I’ve always loved Vincent van Gogh’s paintings. His psychedelic brush strokes instantly struck a cord with me the first time I encountered his work. Like countless others, I also believed I could relate to his struggles as an artist. I fell for the popular image—the iconic figure of the tortured artistic soul—which is no doubt a caricature of the man, a cartoon that has been (re)constructed and (re)presented to render him the poster boy for unrequited love, mental illness, and suicide. As I’ve matured I’ve learned to reject all such stereotypes as bullshit, no matter how romantically appealing they seem.
Several years ago I made a pilgrimage to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to encounter the man’s genius firsthand. Sadly, I departed somewhat underwhelmed by the experience. The magic eluded me. The impact of his artistry got subsumed in the space with so much of its focus on selling reproductions and memorabilia of all kinds—from umbrellas to coffee cups. I don’t expect any museum to be a cathedral of austerity. I recognize it takes funds to keep the doors open, but I felt this was a case where commercialism sucked all of the oxygen out of the exhibit.
My admiration for the artist, however, remains undiminished. Over two decades ago, inspired by his work, I wrote this poem. But that’s not what this is about. Below I have posted a trailer for an amazing new film that brings Van Gogh’s work to life. As you will see, it goes far beyond typical animation to achieve something extraordinary. I’m trying to wait patiently for the release in 2017.
A Short Film by The Nest produced by Sunny Dolat of Chico Leco starring Ajuma Nasanyana Kenyan’s supermodel
Provocative artist Kara Walker will be in conversation with Ava DuVernay, filmmaker and winner of the 2012 Sundance Best Director Award. Two of the most celebrated artists working today, both use narratives drawn from real life experiences to tell important stories from the perspective of African-American women. The recent success of Kara Walker’s Sugar Baby installation at the Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn and Ava DuVernay’s much anticipated film Selma are bringing difficult yet vital American histories to a wide-ranging public. This dialogue will be an opportunity to hear insights on their art making across the disciplines of visual art and filmmaking.
12 Years A Slave, a new film staring Chiwetel Ejiofor, is getting rave reviews and has already triggered serious Oscar buzz in the media.
“Plot Summary: “12 Years a Slave” is based on an incredible true story of one man’s fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender), as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon’s chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) will forever alter his life.”
An excellent review of the film from The Guardian is available here.
The electronic edition of Twelve Years a Slave. Narrative of Solomon Northup a Citizen of New York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841 and Rescued in 1853 from a Cotton Plantation near the Red River in Louisiana is available here.
This brilliant 1986 satire of Australian colonialism is timeless. Running time 29:21. Thanks to the folks over at Africa is a Country for posting it.