Category Archives: Arts & Culture

The Star Wars Prequels are the Most Politically Relevant Thing in the Trump Era

By Sam Jaffe Goldstein

In December 2015, with primary season about to begin, all eyes were on Donald Trump’s rise. That same month, Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters worldwide, the first of four new Star Wars-related films in a span of three years. A month after Trump’s win, Rogue One was released, which debuted the prophetic line, “rebellions are built on hope.” The end of Trump’s first year will welcome the release of The Last Jedi, and the end of the second by the 2018 release of the yet-untitled Han Solo film. Future historians will be able to trace a timeline between these new Star Wars movies and the state of the Trump administration. Continue reading

The Pleasures of the Glimpse: On Dirk Braeckman at the Venice Biennale

By Kaya Genc

Inside the Belgian pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, it is the vast whiteness of the space that strikes you first. The interior of the recently renovated pavilion resembles a hospital, a place devoted to purity, a sanctuary for healing. Then the gaze shifts its focus onto images: Dirk Braeckman’s dark canvases feature bodies, natural formations, surfaces of things so dark that they seem indiscernible from their backgrounds. Rarely has the contrast between space and artwork influenced me quite this way, certainly no other pavilion in the world’s leading art event had come close to the experience. Continue reading

Orphan Black Season Five, “Clutch of Greed”: Letting Go, Holding On

By Everett Hamner

This is the second in a series of episode-by-episode reflections on Orphan Black season 5 (see the preview article here and episode 1 response here). These pieces do not recap plots but do include spoilers; they assume readers have already been viewers. I will also use this chance to thank BBC America for advance access, but also to note that upon each essay’s submission, I have not watched beyond the relevant episode (surprises await all of us!). Finally, as before, please don’t hesitate to extend the conversation in the comments or via Twitter. Continue reading

Art Inside: Field Notes #3

By Annie Buckley, for the “Art Inside” series

“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious.”

—Swami Satchitananda

When I entered the bright classroom, women of all ages were gathered around four rectangular tables. Most were dressed in requisite blue uniforms and some wore the optional muumuu, or as my grandmother used to call a similar garment, housedress. The energy was buzzing but each was focused on a bright square of paper in front of her, intently arranging petals in patterns. Strewn down the center of each table was a rainbow of flower petals, leaves, and seeds, both real and artificial. The women were collecting them to layer in colorful patterns on the sheets. They practiced creating their own designs while getting used to the new materials. Two teaching artists, dressed all in black to avoid any of the range of disallowed clothing — from jeans to all red or pink to khaki, anything that might resemble the garb of either inmates or guards from afar — moved around the tables like hummingbirds, shifting from one participant to another then hovering in place to assist or discuss. The atmosphere was more garden party or craft fair than prison. The women and the Community-based Art team collaborated to transform the space. Continue reading

Orphan Black Season Five, “The Few Who Dare”: Penetration, Selection, Sacrifice, Monsters

By Everett Hamner

As promised in my earlier LARB article, this is the first in a series of episode-by-episode reflections on Orphan Black season five. These will not recap plots, nor will they rely on theoretical jargon or track how many times Alison calls people “fudgy fudgers.” There will be regular spoilers, and there will often be references to moments in earlier seasons. With that said, enjoy — and please don’t hesitate to extend the conversation. Continue reading

Shedding the Light — The House in Scardale: A Memoir for the Stage

By Dinah Lenney

“I’ve been trying to write about my family. Our family. Like it’s a mystery, which it is to me. Trying to answer the question of, you know — What happened?
– Dan, in The House in Scarsdale: A Memoir for the Stage

I’m trying to answer a question, too — the question of, you know, why do I love this play as much as I do? What makes this play — now running (in its world premiere) at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center in Pasadena — so moving? So exciting, so engaging, so affirming, so, so, so — so goodContinue reading

Tom Lutz Discusses the Future of Publishing in the Premiere Issue of LALA Magazine

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In the premiere issue of the magazine LALA, available on stands today, our Editor-in-Chief, Tom Lutz, weighs in on the future of publishing in our city and beyond: “Publishing is in the process of decentralizing, like every other culture industry in the digital age, and a lot of new micro-publishers and medium-size publishers have sprung up in Los Angeles. LARB has started a summer publishing workshop with the express Intent to further build the infrastructure for publishing on the West Coast, insuring that more publishing will be happening in L.A. 20 years from now.” For this and more, pick up an issue. Continue reading