Journalism Light in Jerusalem

By Johan F. Krarup

So much has been said about Israel and Palestine — the most hyped conflict in the World — that I started reading Guy Delisle’s new travelogue, Jerusalem : Chronicles from the Holy City, with some trepidation. Would Delisle’s trademark quotidian, low-key journalism work in Jerusalem, the Gordian knot of Middle East conflict? Would his often lively and entertaining, but just as often predictable and chit-chatty approach offer a interesting perspective on the subject? Surprisingly, the answer is YES!

Guy Delisle reported in comics form from various points of interest around the world. Lately, this has been thanks to his wife who works as a coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. Delisle follows her as a dependent, taking care of the kids and ensuring that family life runs smoothly while his wife is a work. He takes this opportunity to work in his sketchbook as often as possible. He has previously done a book on Burma (2007) in this way, while his two books prior to that, Shenzen (2000) and Pyongyang (2003), were the result of his own travels liaising on international animation projects. The present book, however, works his position as the empathetic family man to significantly greater effect, creating what is without a doubt his best comic so far.

Big K.R.I.T. Interviewed


At the Roskilde Festival I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the up-and-coming stars of Southern hip hop, Big K.R.I.T., who blessed the festival with an awesome concert on Sunday afternoon, closing the show after his country cuzzin Yelawolf had torn up his part of the program. A great afternoon. Check out the interview, filmed and edited by Kenneth Nguyen for Rapspot, above and visit K.R.I.T.’s website where you can download several of his mixtapes for free.

And keep checking for him. It’s great hip hop music, going places.

The Week


The week in review

The drive for new Caravaggios continues unabated, it seems, with the hard to believe recent attribution of about a 100 drawings and ten oil paintings from the Castello Sforza in Milan that once belonged to Caravaggio’s master Simone Peterzano. They were just published on the web by Art historians Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz and Adriana Conconi Fedrigolli as having been executed by the baroque master. Needless to say, this would be sensational of true — no drawings by Caravaggio are known.

However, Caravaggio is rivaled perhaps only by Leonardo among artists who attract frivolous claims of sensational discovery, which come at a clip of about one a year or so. This, however, is unusually aspirational. Although Caravaggio is described in the sources as an artist who didn’t draw, working exclusively “after nature,” he is likely to have drawn at least a little, but it is still hard to believe that so many of his youthful drawings should have been in the possession of his master and have been hiding in plain sight for the better part of a century.

As Stefano Boeri from the Milan Culture Center says in this clip, the collection has been known to scholars since the collection was acquired by the municipality in 1924. Although there have been speculation about certain individual pieces, no one before has given this large a section to the master.

I haven’t studied this collection, but merely from looking at the few drawings filmed in the clip and in the promotional video at the site launched in support of the claim, it strikes me as highly unlikely that even those are by the same hand and none of the eclectic selection shown looks remotely to be of the quality of the early paintings used for comparison.

I suppose every proposal deserves a hearing, but this looks aspirational to say the least.

Links!

  • Remembering KMG. Excellent short appreciation by Brandon Soderbergh of the recently deceased Above The Law MCs writing, delivery and role in the group.
  • “Le manga en France.” Xavier Guilbert delivers another of his exemplary comics market analyses. Must-read for anything with this particular interest.
  • “I Used to Love Her, But I Had to Flee Her: On Leaving New York.” A little too clever in its writing for its own good perhaps, but this essay by Cord Jefferson on living in New York is still pretty spot on about certain aspects of the experience.
  • Dream Hampton on Frank Ocean coming out. This has been linked everywhere, but on the off-chance that you haven’t seen it, it’s a good if somewhat overblown piece of writing on this potential landmark event in hip hop culture.
  • Wrapping Roskilde 2012


    Right, it was a great festival, as usual. A little unusual for me though, in that I was commuting from Copenhagen every day and didn’t spend nearly as much time in Roskilde as I normally do on account of my family. This means I’ll forego my usual analysis of the festival as a whole this year (here’s the last one I did) and be content to direct you to the coverage I contributed at Rapspot.

    I reviewed Blitz the Ambassador, The Abyssinians, Sage Francis, Dominique Young Unique, Yelawolf, and Big K.R.I.T.

    Soon enough a video interview with K.R.I.T., conducted by yours truly, will also be available. I’ll let you know here and via Twitter.

    And the rest of the crew delivered the goods more promptly than ever, so hop over to Rapspot and check it out. It’s all in Danish, but foreven for those who don’t read our guttural there are plenty of images, as well as a few select videos — including one of the stagediving incident during Yelawolf’s unhinged concert.

    Photo of Yelawolf by KenYen.

    Fuck Peace, I’m Outta Here.


    A word about the passing of KMG the Illustrator of Pomona CA. Born Kevin M. Gulley he co-founded the now mostly forgotten, massively underrated hip hop group Above the Law with Gregory F. Hutchison aka. Big Hutch aka. Cold 187um, Go-Mack and DJ Total K-OSS in the mid-eighties. Released on NWA co-founder Eazy-E’s label Ruthless Records in 1989, their debut album Livin’ Like Hustlers is a classic not only of West Coast gangsta rap, but hip hop more broadly. It remains the group’s most innovative effort, not just because of its musical qualities — 1994’s Uncle Sam’s Curse is arguably as good a record in those terms — but also for its pioneer status.

    Roskilde


    Yes, I haven’t been posting a whole lot here for some time, and it will be a while longer because this weekend I’m at the Roskilde Festival reporting for Rapspot, as I have for a number of years. Last night featured Janelle Monae’s showstopper of a performance from which the above image by my man Klaus Køhl is taken. Myself and the rest of the Rapspot team are reporting on that and much more over at the place where we dwell.

    Normal programming to resume presently.

    Hype: OCX 2012

    Joost Swarte's festival poster


    Next weekend I’ll be visiting Oslo to attend its Comics Expo (OCX) for the third time. I can’t wait — they seem really to have upped the ante this year, with an ambitious program and an impressive roster of guests that includes such luminaries as Joost Swarte (who did the festival poster, above), Chris Ware, and Seth.

    I will be participating in two day-long seminars: one held on the Thursday run-up to the festival proper on the aesthetics of modern comics, where I will be debating my long-time internet interlocutor on comics Domingos Isabelinho live for the first time; and one — held on the Friday — on cultural lobbying for comics, focusing on the establishment in Norway of a national center for comics.

    In addition to this, I will be presenting the Nordic comics anthology that I edited, Kolor Klimax (recently published by Fantagraphics) in the swell company of two of its fine contributors, Bendik Kaltenborn and Amanda Vähämäki. And to cap things off, I will be interviewing the festival’s headlining guest Joost Swarte on stage. Really psyched about that!

    Will I see you there?

    A Good Ache?

    Sean Bean, looking vulnerable.


    Look, I’ve really been trying. Not only was I prepared to like Game of Thrones when first I sat down to watch the opening episode of HBO’s series last year, I’ve come back to it several times, figuring I might have missed something, since so many people of generally discerning taste have been raving about it. But sorry, despite the best efforts of the producers to put on a good-looking, big budget production, it is hard for me to see where it differs from a Live Action Role-Playing Game writ large. Lot of overpaid actors running around in the woods with styrofoam swords, throwing flour at each other. Plus lots of tits.

    I’ve also tried going to the source, figuring that the show might have got it all wrong. People have been singing the praises of this guy, George R. R. Martin, calling him “the American Tolkien” and stuff, and for all his faults, Tolkien is pretty damn great in my book. So I picked up the first volume in his endless cycle of 800-page novels and gave it a crack.

    Oh gawd. What’s there to like? I mean, really? The world-building is staid, consisting of every fantasy cliché you can imagine (hardened but pure Northerners, decadent big city politicians with worm-tongued advisors, and dark-skinned savages that are awesome in battle as well as in bed, etc.) And everything is named so generically — you’re in trouble when “King’s Landing” is the best you can come up with for a great city, and when “Ice” is your idea of a cool name for a sword.

    But the worst is the prose. I shall refrain from going on at length about it and merely flip through the book a random to give you a sample. This is on page 59. The righteous viking king (played by Sean Bean on TV) is haunted by doubts about a political move while his queen pines after him:

    The wind swirled around him and he stood facing the dark, naked and empty-handed. Catelyn pulled the furs to her chin and watched him. He looked somehow smaller and more vulnerable, like the youth she had wed in the sept at Riverrun, fifteen long years gone. Her loins still ached from the urgency of his lovemaking. It was a good ache. She could feel his seed within her. She prayed that it might quicken there. It had been three years since Rickon. She was not too old. She could give him another son.

    Please.

    Titian in Print Quarterly


    The latest issue of Print Quarterly (vol. XXIX, no. 2) features an article by yours truly on the Titian’s woodcut St. Roch (above). I went full retard on this, getting my fingers dirty in the Venetian State Archive and such. You should check it out.

    Here’s the opening paragraph:

    Titian’s designs for woodcuts of the early decades of the sixteenth century are remarkably varied in terms of subject, composition and purpose. The large St Roch is an interesting case for it was published with the insignia of the Scuola Grande di San Rocco in Venice. The artist is recorded among the chapter brethren of this institution in 1528 and may well already have been a member there when he executed the design. The woodcut was evidently made to help raise funds for the construction of the Scuola’s new headquarters — a rare early surviving example of a devotional print produced for the purpose of institutional promotion. Although its composite design and blend of image and text make it unique in Titian’s graphic oeuvre, it has received less scrutiny than his other woodcuts. This article considers the available evidence in an attempt to elucidate the particulars of its creation and iconography, proposing an earlier date than the traditional one and inserting it into the context of Titian’s engagement with the heroic male figure in his work of the late 1510s.