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Latest in Culture


South African shop closes as books gather dust

By Jean Liou / AFP South Africa may have produced two Nobel laureates in literature but a famous bookshop in Johannesburg is nevertheless about to close, a victim of the country’s poor reading culture. The Boekehuis, whose Afrikaans name means “book house”, is in an old four-bedroom house a stone’s throw from the city’s two …

DNE

OCI, BESIX Group to begin work on third phase of Grand Egyptian Museum

CAIRO: A joint venture between Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) and the Belgian BESIX Group was awarded the contract for phase three of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), a deal valued at $810 million. OCI said in a statement that the 50/50 joint venture was awarded the project on a turnkey basis and the final …

DNE

Bosnia’s top cultural institutions shutting down

Bosnia’s oldest and most prestigious cultural institutions have begun closing their doors one after another, thanks to long-standing disputes among politicians from its three ethnic groups and dwindling state funding. In 2011, the seven institutions — among them the 125-year-old National Museum whose collection includes the famed 600-year-old Jewish manuscript known as the Sarajevo Haggadah …

DNE

El-Semary perfects art of unraveling layers of history

Last year, the arts were largely not up to par, with a handful of exceptions that only just matched the events ablaze at the time. Concerned with levels of production, most galleries have put on a solid schedule of events that hope to crown this year one of change and progress. As usual, a pioneer …

DNE

Czech dissident writer Josef Skvorecky dies

Czech dissident writer and publisher Josef Skvorecky, who spent much of his life in Canada, died in Toronto on Tuesday, aged 87, CTK news agency reported. Skvorecky, who published the works of many dissident authors from his native Czechoslovakia including books by the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, was the founder of Sixty-Eight Publishers which …

DNE

Hockney takes a swipe at Hirst over work ethic

By AFP British painter David Hockney has criticized controversial fellow artist Damien Hirst for employing other people to help create his works of art, saying it was “insulting”. A poster for a major exhibition of landscapes by the 74-year-old Hockney opening in London this month reads: “All the works here were made by the artist …

DNE

Golden year for Klimt as Austria marks 150th anniversary

By Sim Sim Wissgott / AFP His golden “The Kiss” adorns scarves and coffee mugs worldwide, while his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer sparked a decades-long restitution battle: in 2012, Austria celebrates 150 years since Klimt’s birth. Gustav Klimt, born on July 14, 1862, is one of the best known figures of the Jugendstil art period. In …

DNE

A Cuban African Odyssey with Egypt’s Jihan El-Tahri

By Myriam Ghattas Jihan El-Tahri is a French Egyptian national who had never screened her films in her own country, Egypt, until recently. This unfortunate oversight was thankfully corrected with her invitation to participate in the Fourth Panorama of the European Film, the lone Cairene film festival of the year that wrapped up at the end …

DNE

Viennese Cafe Icon Hawelka dead at 100

Andy Warhol stopped by for a cup of his coffee. So did princes, paupers, playwrights, poets and untold thousands for whom a visit to Vienna was unthinkable without a cup of steaming brew served by the bow-tied little man with the perpetual dancing smile. In this city of more than 1,900 cafes, Leopold Hawelka was …

DNE

Streep can’t save superficial ‘Iron Lady’

By Christy Lemire / AP The same problems that plagued “La Vie en Rose,” starring Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf, exist in “The Iron Lady,” a biopic about Margaret Thatcher starring Meryl Streep as the former British prime minister. While both films feature strong performances from strong actresses playing strong, real-life women, the scripts are weakened …

DNE

Colosseum loses another chunk as restoration looms

The Colosseum lost another piece on Tuesday as Rome’s most famous monument deteriorates further ahead of a long-delayed restoration funded by an Italian billionaire now scheduled to start in March. The chunk of volcanic tuff fell from one of the iconic arches of the nearly 2,000-year-old structure – just two days after a similar incident …

DNE

Best 25 films of 2011

By Joseph Fahim Real-life drama overshadowed everything shown at the movies in 2011. The Arab Spring captivated the attention of the whole world, gluing viewers the world over to their TV screens in anticipation of the history in the making. But while the real-life action provided a hazy picture for an uncertain, trepidatious future, cinema’s …

DNE

Spielberg seeks ‘old-fashioned’ spectacle in war film

Steven Spielberg’s new film "War Horse" is almost deliberately old-fashioned, pitting noble beast against the horrors of war, with sweeping, emotional set pieces — and dividing critics as Hollywood’s awards season looms. The movie, which got a Golden Globe nomination this month ahead of its Christmas Day release in the United States, is even made …

DNE

Nepal’s ‘singing nun’ shares the sound of music

Wrapped in a maroon robe, her head shaven, Ani Choying Dolma treads gingerly into a Kathmandu hotel, exuding the composure and serenity one might expect from a Buddhist nun. But this 40-year-old is no ordinary devotee, for Dolma — better known by her moniker "The Singing Nun" — is the most unlikely of music stars, …

DNE

Culture ministry assigns 2 committees to study Alexandria Opera staff’s demands

CAIRO: The Ministry of Culture assigned Monday two committees to examine the demands of the Alexandria Opera employees, who have ended their 36-day strike. The committees, which were formed after a delegation of the employees met the minister on Dec. 21, would discuss all their demands with one tasked solely with examining the financial demands. …

DNE

A human touch for ancient scripts at Italy’s book hospital

By Ljubomir Milasin / AFP Ancient manuscripts are treated like hospital patients at a famous book restoration institute in Rome that has worked on everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls to one of the oldest Qurans in the world. “Look at this poor man suffering!” exclaimed Marina Bicchieri, head of the chemistry department at the Institute …

DNE

Arts chocked by 2011 intensity, with rare glimpses of hope

By Mariam Hamdy This year has been an emotional roller coaster for Egyptians, and it seems that the ride will continue to thrill and terrify its way into 2012. Our social, political and economic milieu has changed so drastically this year that no one can honestly gauge what will happen next, or what exactly needs to …

DNE

Swiss art prize cancelled after sponsor Lacoste’s objection

By AFP The organizers of a €25,000 ($32,000) art prize said on Wednesday they have cancelled this year’s competition after sponsors Lacoste objected to an entry by a Palestinian photographer. Jerusalem-born artist Larissa Sansour said she was told the luxury clothing brand deemed her photo series “too pro-Palestinian”. The Elysee Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, had …

DNE

Vatican fits sensors to preserve priceless Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel has been fitted with detectors to check for pollution from its millions of visitors every year that could harm priceless frescoes by Michelangelo and Botticelli. Vatican Museums director Antonio Paolucci explained in the Holy See’s official daily, Osservatore Romano, on Thursday that the initiative was in order to update the building’s air …

DNE

Grammys to honor late Steve Jobs for contribution to music

The Grammys will pay special tribute to late Apple founder Steve Jobs, Brazil’s Tom Jobim – of "Girl from Ipanema" fame – and US singer Diana Ross at the upcoming awards show, the organization announced Wednesday. The Apple co-founder and mind behind the wildly popular iPod, iPad and iPhone died in October after battling pancreatic …

DNE

France spotlights short films on winter solstice

France marked the shortest day of the year on Wednesday with the launch of a nationwide short film festival, 30 years after starting a hugely popular music festival on the summer solstice. Dubbed "The shortest day", the festival is a mix of formal events, held in cinemas, museums or train stations around the country, with …

DNE

Famed Myanmar satirist ‘shocked’ by freedom

He kept his quick wit throughout jail terms, torture and solitary confinement, but it seems nothing quite prepared Myanmar’s most famous comedian for his first trip out of the military-dominated state. "When I saw the airplane I got a shock, when I saw the airport I got a shock, when I saw the big building …

DNE

Stone lion resumes post in Spain’s Alhambra

By AFP One of 12 marble lions that stand watch in Spain’s historic Moorish palace, the Alhambra, in Granada returned to its spot Monday after being restored by experts. A miniature crane lowered the 300-kilogram (660-pound) stone beast into place at the foot of a fountain in the Court of the Lions at the heart …

DNE

Five ancient shipwrecks found in central Stockholm

Five shipwrecks dating from the 1500s to the 1700s have been found during renovation work on a quay in central Stockholm, the Swedish Maritime Museum said on Monday. "Five shipwrecks … from the 1500s to 1700s have been found in connection with the renovation of Stroemkajen," the museum said. The location is right outside the …

DNE

’27 Club’ of dead rockers is a myth, says study

By AFP Fame boosts the risk of early death for rock stars but the claim that the peril is greatest at the age of 27 is false, according to a study published on Tuesday by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The theory of the “27 Club” spread earlier this year when Amy Winehouse joined Jim …

DNE

Egyptian film program opens in Frankfurt

Looks can be deceiving — especially with a city like Frankfurt. The fifth largest city in Germany is the financial and transportation center of the country, home to the European Central Bank and the German Federal Bank in addition to some of the largest commercial banks in Europe. The stodgy, serious veneer of Frankfurt makes …

DNE

Ballet keeps Polish seniors on their toes

By Maja Czarnecka / AFP Dressed in white tutus, seven pensioners from a village in southern Poland love to get on their tiptoes to dance ballet classics like Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” All these new found ballerinas are grandmothers — one is even a great-grandmother — and the oldest member of the troupe is 73. “If we …

DNE

‘Extremely Loud’ is incredibly phony

By David Germain / AP It is no surprise that the grief-drenched Sept. 11 drama “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” should turn out incredibly mawkish. A cloying exercise in sentimentality, the film also winds up extremely annoying, even infuriating. Director Stephen Daldry’s film, featuring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, centers on the worst day most Americans …

DNE

Musical diplomacy in Islamic Cairo

On Thursday night, the US Embassy presented a concert featuring collaboration between Nubian Drums, one of the many musical heritage projects of Islamic Cairo mainstay Intissar Abdel-Fattah, and the Bombie Trio, a band from the US advertised as jazz but better described as a blues-rock cover band. The embassy’s forays into cultural programming seldom produce …

DNE

British writer Christopher Hitchens dead at 62

The renowned British writer and polemicist Christopher Hitchens, whose targets ranged from God and Mother Teresa to Henry Kissinger, has died after an 18-month battle against cancer. He was 62. Hitchens began his career in London but he moved to the United States in 1981 and enjoyed great success both as a writer and speaker, …

DNE