All posts filed under: Culture

Cross cultural love and friendship stories help creativity

– by William Maddux and Andrew Hafenbranck, INSEAD The stamp in one’s passport doesn’t always define the distance one has travelled. For some professionals, an overseas stint is an opportunity to change not only their surroundings but also themselves – to become more broad-minded and creative people. Previous research suggests that expats who deeply engage with the local culture by mixing with locals and learning their language, for example, tend to become more creative and enjoy greater professional success after returning home than those who stick to expat enclaves. If what matters most for creative growth is the bridges you build between cultures, not the physical borders you cross, perhaps leaving home isn’t absolutely necessary. After all, globalisation has produced an unprecedented mingling of cultures and ethnicities, as is evident on the streets of nearly every major global city (much to the outrage of the far right). The chance to form cross-cultural bonds could be as close as the next street corner, or the next cubicle. Regardless of the surroundings, close personal relationships – including …

The Bill Viola exhibit in Florence and a short video of The Deluge

From 10 March to 23 July 2017 the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi introduces Bill Viola, a significant exhibition celebrating this unchallenged master of video art, presenting works that span his long career, and which resonate with the architecture of Palazzo Strozzi. In order to create a unique experience, the exhibition will also include masterpieces of the Renaissance, such as, Pontormo, Masolino da Panicale, Paolo Uccello and Lukas Cranach.  Born in New York in 1951, Bill Viola is internationally recognised as one of the most important contemporary artists, producing video installations, sound environments and performances that offer the public profound experiences of immersion in space, image and sound. In exploring spirituality, experience and perception, Viola observes mankind itself; people, bodies and faces are the leading players in his works, with their poetic and strongly symbolic style in which man is called on to interact with such forces and opposing energies of nature as water and fire, light and dark, the cycle of life and the cycle of death and rebirth. As the artist has stated: “I am so happy to be returning to my Italian roots and …

Caravaggio and Contemporary Art in London

by Maria Grazia Leonetti-Rodinò di Miglione The aim of the special event taking place on March 15th at the Italian Cultural Institute in London is to re-establish a long lost connection between art and solidarity. It is along the lines traced by an ancient collaboration between the neapolitan charitable Pio Monte della Misericordia of Naples and Caravaggio, the Italian master painter, that the connection is built. The Pio Monte della Misericordia is a charitable institution funded in 1602 with the aim to provide assistance, support and solidarity to the poor. Caravaggio was commissioned an art work, resulting in the stunning, inspiring and touching painting The Seven Acts of Mercy, currently on display in Naples on the Pio Monte della Misericordia’s church altar. 7 Opere PER la Misericordia is a unique project about solidarity and art and involves 33 international artists. Inspired  by Caravaggio’s The Seven Acts of Mercy, artists kindly and generously donated their art works to the Pio Monte della Misericordia: these works are now on display in London. It is the Italian Cultural Institute that …

‘Big, beautiful’ walls don’t stop migrants in the US or Europe

– by Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute Walls have a strong political connotation in post-war Europe. The most tragically famous was the Berlin wall built in 1961 to prevent citizens of the DDR (otherwise known as East Germany) from seeking refuge in the West. The fall of that wall in 1989 signalled the reunification not only of Germany but of the entire European continent, and the end of the Cold War. It also marked a European commitment to providing asylum to people fleeing from persecution. Unfortunately, history often repeats itself and citizens forget. Thus, walls and fences have been proliferating in Europe over the past 12 years as a response to migration flows. The most famous wall of them all. Roland Arhelger, CC BY-SA Fortress Europe It was as early as 1995 when the first project for building fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast started. It was completed in 2000, three-quarters funded by the European Union for a total cost of €48 million. However, the continuing attempts by …

The Greek asylum crisis: moving beyond the blame game to a real solution

– Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute An unusual wave of cold weather in the first week of January 2017 exposed the stark deficiencies of Greece’s asylum seeker policy. Camps housing tens of thousands people seeking refuge from war were hit by snow and freezing rain, with residents exposed to sub-zero temperatures and arctic winds. The winter crisis made headlines worldwide. It left no doubt of the fact that ten months after the EU-Turkey agreement led to a stark decrease in migrant flows to the country, Greece is still struggling to cope with the asylum challenge. Substantial funding has been made available to deal with the migration emergency, both directly to relevant ministries and to international NGOs. According to a recent European Commission report, Greece has received €295 million out of a total of €861 million earmarked for the Europe-wide refugee crisis. Of this €295 million, at least half has been given directly to international organisations. But it’s not working. Greece’s impossible task Greece is currently facing a Sisyphean task. It must first provide appropriate first reception …

Authentic Liaisons: Creating Bridges across Cultures

Flying in to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, Renan Bourdeau looked down at the endless stretches of desert below and wondered how people survived. As a communications company executive who specialised in writing country reports to promote national economies and attract foreign investors, Bourdeau was no stranger to exotic lands. Experienced as he was in working with different cultural approaches to business, he knew nothing of Mauritania, one of Africa’s poorest countries. According to his company’s guide book – a “bible” which contained details of its previous assignments in the region and the insights gained – the country was controlled by the Moors who held office in Nouakchott while their extended families lived a more nomadic way of life in the desert. Social customs to bridge cultural chasms The pace and style of business in the capital was based on Bedouin social courtesies and traditions which Bourdeau was keen to respect. Hospitality was a requirement of a decent Mauritanian and Bourdeau was prepared to indulge in a great deal of tea-drinking during the course of …

M.C. Escher, Writing Hands, Rijksmuseum Collection, Amsterdam

Writing

Today scholars of all disciplines have realized that how their research is presented is at least as important as what is presented. Questions of voice, style and audience – the classic issues of rhetoric – have taken the front scene in matters of writing a report. Writing is intended as a communicative act between author and reader. Thus, when a text is released and goes public,  meanings writers may think they have frozen into certain words, may melt before the eyes of active readers. “Meanings are not permanently embedded by an author in the text at the moment of creation. They are woven from the symbolic capacity of a piece of writing and the social context of its reception. Most crucially, different categories of readers will display systematic differences in their perceptions and interpretations of the same writing”, says Van Maanen in his reflections on writing ethnography. Thus writing combines elements of the real, in a certain world, at a certain time and from a certain position, and reaches out for a meaning in relation …