Little Cultural Gifts 2021

After having concluded our Year of Short Films 2020  the IPA in Culture Committee will now offer you each month a little gift: a small video, a poem, a song, a painting, something that may touch, amuse, puzzle, move, inspire, or surprise you. It’ll take only a few minutes of your time and still may lend a gentle tune to your day. 

December: Louise Glück, The Night Migrations

This is the moment when you see again
the red berries of the mountain ash
and in the dark sky
the birds’ night migrations.

It grieves me to think
the dead won’t see them—
these things we depend on, they disappear.

What will the soul do for solace then?
I tell myself maybe it won’t need
these pleasures anymore;
maybe just not being is simply enough,
hard as that is to imagine.

In: Louise Glück, Averno, 2006 New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, p. 1

September: Maurice Béjart and Michèle Seigneuret - "La Teck" (1960)

This month we present you Maurice Béjart and Michèle Seigneuret dancing “La Teck” around a sculpture by Marta Pan to Chet Baker’s take on Gerry Sullivan's “The Nearness of you”, Tito Puente’s “Tito on Timbales” and Stan Getz’ “Witch Doctor.” In the exhibition “Women in abstraction” in the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Johanna Velt found this marriage of music, dance, and sculpture – tenderness and passion, nostalgia and modernism.

June: Gerhard Richter Painting

In this collage of videos, filmed by Corinna Belz over three years, we see Gerhard Richter at work: by augmenting and abrading layers of paint and continuously responding to the veiling and revealing of prior layers of colours, structures and patterns, the abstract painting emerges from the artist’s creative dialogue with his object.

March: The Romantic Dogs by Roberto Bolaño

On a walk through the French town of Céret near the Spanish border, Rotraut De Clerck, Frankfurt, discovered this poem by Roberto Bolaño on a house wall in the Rue de La Costete: a gift for passers-by.
Back then, I’d reached the age of twenty
and I was crazy.
I’d lost a country
but won a dream.
As long as I had that dream
nothing else mattered.
Not working, not praying
not studying in the morning light
alongside the romantic dogs.
And the dream lived in the void of my spirit.
A wooden bedroom,
cloaked in half-light,
deep in the lungs of the tropics.
And sometimes I’d retreat inside myself
and visit the dream: a statue eternalized
in liquid thoughts,
a white worm writhing
in love.
A runaway love.
A dream within another dream.
And the nightmare telling me: you will grow up.
You’ll leave behind the images of pain and of the
labyrinth and you’ll forget.
But back then, growing up would have been a crime.
I’m here, I said, with the romantic dogs
and here I’m going to stay.
Roberto Bolaño, THE ROMANTIC DOGS, Poems. Translated by Laura Healy. 2008, New Directions Books, New York.

November: Kurosawa's Dreams, The Blizzard

A dream -- a wakeup call -- a wish fulfilment: The Blizzard, breathtaking and haunting in its depiction of man's struggle to survive, is one of eight episodes in Akira Kurosawa's movie DREAMS, for which he transformed his own actual dream experience into magical realist film episodes.

Judith Scott (1943 - 2005)

Following up Siri Hustvedt’s IPA Congress presentation “Umbilical Phantoms”, we want to present you Judith Scott: Born in 1943 with Down Syndrome (unlike her twin sister Joyce), Judith contracted Scarlet fever in infancy and turned deaf, which remained unknown and led to underestimating and neglecting her learning capacities. At age 7 she was separated from her twin sister and spent the next 35 years in an institution for mentally disabled. In 1985 Joyce became her legal guardian, moved her to California, and enrolled her into the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland. There Judith discovered her passion for fabric and fiber and started to build abstract sculptures from objects she artfully wrapped in colorful yarn, creating a fascinating aesthetics. Judith Scott became an internationally renowned artist, whose abstract fiber sculptures are exhibited in many contemporary art museums around the world. In 2005 she died at age 61 in the home of her sister. This short video shows you in deafening silence Judith Scott at work.

May: Cirque du Soleil : High Wire Act of the show Kooza

The Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil travelled the world with its Kooza show, presenting this spectacular high-wire act with clowns artfully dressed in traditional burlesque costumes - a breathtaking feat of balance!

February: Astrith Baltsan with the Israel Philharmonic

Israel’s most popular classical performer, Dr. Astrith Baltsan, pianist, narrator, and musicologist tells you about Gershwin and how his music came about. Paola Golinelli, Bologna, brought this video to our attention.

October: Pipilotti Rist - Ever is overall (1997)

In her large-scale installation, Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist stuns us with two overlapping videos in which she combines soothing sweetness with grim determination: In one video (which appears only briefly at the end), we see a beautiful field of large tropical flowers; in the other, one of these flower umbels has turned into a baton, breaking the dividing line between reality and fantasy.

July: Stair Dance

Students of Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech, a tuition free Public School for Dance in New York City, perform on stage at the Joyce Theatre; watch excerpts from his 2019 choreography Stair Dance – in pleasant anticipation of the IPA’s 52nd International Congress on The Infantile: Its Multiple Dimensions.

April: Nina Simone

In 1968 Nina Simone presented her famous song “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life” in a powerful live performance in London.

January: A short tender video of Freud

We start our little gift series with a charming video of Sigmund Freud presenting the gift of a flower to his grandson Ernst, sitting on the arm of his mother, Freud’s daughter Sophie. Christina Nadler, New York, brought this video to the attention of the Freudian Society, New York, and the IPA. Anton Kris, Cambridge, tentatively identified Sophie and Ernst Halberstadt. This video is also posted here as an inspiration and invitation to participate in the IPA Video Award on the theme of the 52nd Congress “The Infantile: its multiple dimensions”.