08 DEC 17 Culture Digest

Weekend Reading List

Pussy Riot and the commodification of protest, a tale of shakshuka, and books of the mind: what to read this weekend

08 DEC 17 in Culture Digest

Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, 2014. Courtesy: Flickr, Creative Commons; photograph: Greg Chow

  • Howard Amos writes in The Calvert Journal about the reception of feminist protest group Pussy Riot inside and outside of Russia – how their members have responded differently to the pressures of celebrity and notoriety, and the difficulties of Pussy Riot becoming a commercialized cultural commodity abroad. He’s damning about member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova’s new immersive theatre experience in London, Inside Pussy Riot, part of her drive to move Pussy Riot away from its Russian roots and punk origins: ‘when some ideas are taken too far from their context, they become meaningless’.
  • 'Of course I had forgotten about the grey hours.' In the TLS, former British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman writes about going freelance.
  • In frieze, Stefan Kobel debates recent art world outrage over ‘conflicts of interest’ – it may have cost Beatrix Ruf her job at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, but the problem, he suggests, isn’t just a matter of individual ethical conflicts – it’s structural too.
  • Meanwhile, Cody Delistraty takes apart Emmanuel Macron’s recent pledge while in Burkina Faso to return African artefacts currently housed in French museums to their respective nations – on the face of it, the French President’s comments represent progress, but they also hint at a dubious politics, in which art restitution is posited as a stopgap solution to France’s serious postcolonial responsibilities (two days later in Ghana, Macron called the idea of financial reparations for colonialism ‘totally ridiculous’).
  • Etienne Balibar in openDemocracy reflects on the crisis of European construction and more radical prospects for a ‘new foundation’. The French philosopher's warning about the existential crisis for democracy in Europe is bleak: 'It doesn’t lead to a 'revolutionary situation', or a 'coming insurrection', I am afraid, contrary to the sincere hopes of old anarchists and young activists, who dream of a radical break with parliamentary regimes. Rather, it produces a steady decomposition of citizenship.’
  • Over at Wasafiri, don’t miss new fiction from Rowan Hisayo Buchanan: a tale of shakshuka and marriage. (I’m also currently reading Buchanan’s debut 2016 novel Harmless Like You, belatedly recommended).
  • Finally, so glad to see J.M.E. Oliver’s I Love Duck, Krise Plötzliche’s latest in translation and Fernando Sdrigotti’s self-help classic The Situationist Guide to Parenting made it to 3:AM’s 'Books of the Year' list.