Sunday July 22, 2018

Paris Exhibition focuses on post-Civil War America through Art in Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum

The most chilling part of the show deals with the brutal practice of lynchings

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"The Color Line" traces racism and segregation in America from the immediate post-Civil War period until today. (L. Bryant/VOA)
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As record numbers of visitors flock to the new African-American history museum in Washington, another landmark exhibit has opened across the Atlantic, offering a stark and sometimes brutal take on racism in the United States through the lenses of black artists.

Running until mid-January 2017 at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum in Paris, “The Color Line” spans post-Civil War America through a stunning trove of 600 books, posters, paintings and video clips. They document the struggles and gradual empowerment of African-Americans through art.

A hanging-mask artwork by African-American artist David Hammons. (L. Bryant/VOA)
A hanging-mask artwork by African-American artist David Hammons. (L. Bryant/VOA)

“French people know jazz music and some black movie stars and literature. They know words like ‘Ferguson,’ ” said the show’s curator, Daniel Soutif, referring to the 2014 race riots and protests in the U.S. state of Missouri, touched off by the fatal shooting of a black youth by a white police officer. “So one aspect of the show is to complete their culture, to show black people aren’t only those killed on the streets, but also very important artists.”

The show traces the origins of the “color line,” a term referring to racial segregation in America after the abolition of slavery in 1865. It explores how blacks were ridiculed in vaudeville shows and movies, faced discrimination through Jim Crow laws in the southern United States and elsewhere, and fought for their country during the World Wars in a segregated military.

Expressions of brutality

Perhaps the most chilling part of the show deals with the brutal practice of lynchings. One painting shows hooded members of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan erecting a cross, lit up by a bloody moon; another, by Lois Mailou Jones, shows the anguish of a shackled man minutes before his death.

Daniel Soutif, curator of "The Color Line." (L. Bryant/VOA)
Daniel Soutif, curator of “The Color Line.” (L. Bryant/VOA)

The collection, however, also features growing black consciousness, underscored by the artistic expression that exploded in New York’s Harlem section during the 1920s.

The civil rights movement followed. There is a film clip of renowned contralto Marian Anderson singing at Washington’s Lincoln Memorial in 1939, after she was denied the right to sing at the capital’s largest concert hall.

Nearby hangs a giant portrait of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and another showing the 1963 March on Washington, as African-Americans demanded greater civil and economic rights.

“We try to present the context,” Soutif said. “Words like Reconstruction or Jim Crow — they mean nothing to French people.”

In some ways, the exhibit seems a given for the French capital, long a magnet for legions of African-American writers, artists and musicians who found the liberation they were denied at home.

“I would not say race is erased, but race does not provide as much of an impediment, many people would argue, as it does in the U.S.,” Duke University art history professor Richard Powell said of the African-American experience in Paris.

The American Civil War ended slavery in the nation, but not racism. (L. Bryant/VOA)
The American Civil War ended slavery in the nation, but not racism. (L. Bryant/VOA)

Wandering through the show, Ko Bragg of Pennsylvania assessed the exhibit as doing “a fair job” at depicting how black artists responded to segregation, although she said she thought it glossed over some areas.

“What I think is interesting about traveling abroad as an African-American is you’re seen as an American first,” said Bragg, who studies journalism in Paris. “When I’m home, automatically I’m seen as black, and I carry all the weight of what a black American means.”

Universal themes

Yet France has its own troubled history of racial and ethnic tensions, including relations with its large Muslim community.

“French are not in the position to give lessons,” Soutif said.

Paris-area high school teacher Oceane Batman, whose family comes from Martinique, agreed.

The "color line" ran across many aspects of U.S. society, including the movie industry. (L. Bryant/VOA)
The “color line” ran across many aspects of U.S. society, including the movie industry. (L. Bryant/VOA)

“When you think about America, one of the main subjects that comes to mind is racism,” she said. “But it’s the same in France, even if our histories are completely different. That’s one of the reasons I came to the show. I thought it might help me understand what’s going on in France today.”

As much as documenting history, however, the exhibit is about art, Soutif said.

“Look over there,” he said, pointing to an elegant sculpture of hanging African masks by artist David Hammons. “They are moving so gently. When you are a curator, you want to show beautiful works. For me, that’s the main point.” (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)