192 Chapters
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20 Brunswick = Fluxus

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Aaron Jaffe

The image of man is always intrinsically chronotopic.

This chapter considers the cultural meaning of “wood” in The Big Lebowski.

There are unusual quantities of wood in the film: paneling, floors, bowling alley lanes, furniture, numerous props, and so on. From the opening sequence of exquisitely shot bowling balls casting down wooden runways to the final encounter between the Dude and the Stranger bellied up to the wooden bowling alley bar, Lebowski makes the uncanny “cultural power of wood” conspicuous, as Harvey Green puts it in his book on this subject (xxii).

In Coen films—and in Lebowski especially—design takes on a degree of agency that moves its significance from the background into the foreground. The role of wood, in particular, underscores a decisive concern in the plot and a cultural innovation the film makes concerning it: the role of genealogy—as in the genealogical tree. The Lebowski family tree (Jeffrey, Bunny, the Dude, Maude, the little Lebowski on the way) is decidedly not arborescent in the sense Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari criticize in A Thousand Plateaus, because it’s hardly unidirectional, patrilinear, patrimonial, or branching ever vertically. Nor is it rhizomatic, the more famous alternative the pair propose to designate the non-hierarchical, heterogeneous, and horizontal. The Lebowski family wood might be more adequately described as lumberescent—cultural wood that functions no longer as a signifier of vertical or horizontal growth but as a plasticized gift and plaything of design.

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3. River Revealed: Cross Timbers and into the Llano Uplift

Margie Crisp Texas A&M University Press ePub


Below the dam at O. H. Ivie, the Colorado River cuts across layers of time, digging into the exposed shelves of millions of years. Alluvial deposits along the bed and banks of the river are recent, but the river has relentlessly carved away at the cover of Cretaceous rocks exposing the tilted stacks of old sedimentary rocks in the broad basin. On a geological map, multiple parallel bands of color stripe north to south. The river slices across in a twisting gold line of alluvial soils, descending from young to old, across pale bands of Permian limestone and shale, pink blobs and squiggles of sediment eroded from the Cretaceous and Permian rocks upriver, and into the dark blue patterns of older, exposed Pennsylvanian sandstones. Curving in a tight arc, the river bounces between the old sandstones and tongues of limestone and shale before snaking down the deep canyons of ancient Ordovician limestones into the heart of the Llano Uplift.

In this length of river, seven or eight counties, depending on how you count them, crowd up to the river, nudge each other’s shoulders, and wiggle their toes in the stream. It is a land of big ranches, white-tailed deer and turkey hunting, a few row crops, and pecan orchards. The river regains its strength, pulls water from creeks and springs, and works its way back into a free-flowing stream for a few miles before running into the dams of the Highland Lakes downstream.

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Medium 9780253007414

4. An Artist’s Notes on the Triangle Workshops, Zambia and South Africa

Edited by Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Indiana University Press ePub

Namubiru Rose Kirumira and Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

African contemporary artists are often portrayed as individuals who are caught up in the dynamics of art formation spaces, sociocultural movements, and forces of globalization—as well as new discourses of artistic experience. Workshops in particular have been significant formative spaces in artists’ endeavors to become versatile in a globalizing environment (Deliss 1995; Kirumira 2008; Sanyal 2002). It is worth observing that several types of workshops that include long-term (three-month) residencies, short-term (two-week) workshops, and symposia have existed in Africa for some time; many were begun by colonial patrons. Publications such as catalogs produced by the Triangle Art Trust, and articles by Court (1992) and Richards (1998) have given varied, if limited, accounts of the status of art workshops in Africa.

Murray, Picton, and Loder (2005) argue that the condition of being an artist in Africa is a condition of continuous transition. In the same vein, for over fifty years, African workshops have presented themselves in a continuous transition from artist’s colonies, communities, and craft villages to international workshops. A revealing example of what has changed in the African workshop scenario since 1985 is the introduction and spread of the so-called Triangle Workshops, originated by the British art collector and entrepreneur Robert Loder and sculptor Sir Anthony Caro in 1982. The initial triangle was the familiar one of the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom; but three years later the first African Triangle Workshop, Thupelo, was organized in South Africa by artists David Koloane and Bill Ainslie.

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Medium 9780253008145

THREE Intertwined Veiling Histories in Nigeria • ELISHA P. RENNE

Edited by Elisha P Renne Indiana University Press ePub

Hijab is my pride”


—Packaged hijab, sold at Oja’ba Market, Ibadan, 31 May 2011



“God instructs us to wear hijab, is it not the Prophet who said we should wear it?”

—Woman interviewed in Zaria City, 25 April 2001

Veiling in Nigeria—a practice which consists of wearing a cloth which may cover the head, body, and at times, the face, feet, and hands—reflects a complex set of social relationships that have religious, political, and historical dimensions. In Nigeria, Muslim women with different ethnic backgrounds wear a range of veiling styles. In the southwest, some Yoruba Muslim women wear the all-encompassing black burqa-like garment worn by women known as ẹlẹẹha (Plate 3) while the majority wears the more common stole-like iborun over gele headties. More recently, some have worn different styles of hijab. In the north, Hausa Muslim women are more likely to wear the hijab worn in a range of styles, including the recent “fashion hijab,” although some still prefer the style of headtie and gyale style similar to those worn in the southwest. In both the north and south, women’s thinking about veiling and their decisions about what types of veils they wear reflect the specific histories of Islam and of Islamic organizations in Yorubaland and Hausaland respectively.

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2 A Once and Future Dude: The Big Lebowski as Medieval Grail-Quest

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Andrew Rabin

Although medieval allegory might seem distant from Lebowski’s “parlance of the times,” references to the Middle Ages—and to the Grail-quest in particular—form a crucial component of the film’s narrative world.1 Like the Old French Queste del Saint Graal, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzifal, or Malory’s Morte Darthur, The Big Lebowski recounts the adventures of three companions seeking to restore a lost fetish-object. This quest leads them through a contemporary wasteland to the castle of a crippled king whose paraplegia marks him as both sexually and politically impotent. Here, the object is found and lost again, and the goal now becomes to restore the king’s potency, as well as to recover the original object of the search. On his journey, the principal Grail knight experiences allegorical visions and confronts the temptations of the flesh. He encounters both Jesus (Quintana) and Arthur (Digby Sellers) and receives dubious aid from an “Irish monk” (the “brother Seamus,” Da Fino). In perhaps the most obvious Grail allusion, the Dude’s second meeting with the “Big” Lebowski takes place in a neo-Gothic great hall with Wagner’s Lohengrin, an opera based on Wolfram’s Parzifal, playing in the background. The adventure finally ends with the death of the most innocent of the questers and the return of his two companions, sadder yet wiser men. However, despite such obvious similarities between the medieval and modern narratives, the inhabitants of the Dude’s world remain as ignorant of their Arthurian analogues as they seem to be of the Iraq War beginning around them. In this film, the voice of history is that of “a Stranger.” Like the child who wanders in in the middle of a movie, they have, as Walter tells Donny, “no frame of reference.”

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6 - The Future of Plein Air Painting

Indiana Plein Air Painters Association Quarry Books ePub

Painting en plein air is certainly not new. However, the recent phenomena of plein air painting groups and events described in chapter 5 indicate a movement of significance as a result of the painting method's popularity and associated revenue. Professional artists who have become established in the national plein air community enjoy sufficient demand for their paintings to command prices as high as $50,000 for the best known,1 as well as income from teaching workshops, producing books or videos, and giving lectures and demonstrations. With the large number of amateur plein air painters, those who make a living from their artwork and related activities have more opportunities to conduct traveling workshops and sell their work to loyal followers.

Although every artist develops his or her own voice, or individual style, most plein air paintings fit into the categories of realism or neo-Impressionism. The paintings reflect the artists' responses to nature, and part of their appeal for viewers is their recognizable atmosphere, mood, and actual physical characteristics of a familiar place. For many artists, the paintings are especially meaningful because they capture an experience. They call up memories of the gentle breezes, trilling birds, burbling brooks, and caring companions that were present during the creation of the work.

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Medium 9780253348920

1. Maa Warriorhood and British Colonial Discourse

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub



If ever the dreams of European colonists are realised in Central Africa it will, without doubt, be on those portions of the Leikipia and Kenia [Kenya] plateau which are between 5,000 and 7,000 feet above the sea-level.

LUDWIG VON HÖHNEL, Discovery of Lakes Rudolf and Stefanie (1894)

The vultures are dropping on the Pinguan to eat one loved by the people of Nairobi.

—Song of Samburu warriors after the Powys murder, quoted in Atieno Odhiambo “‘The Song of the Vultures’: Concepts of Kenyan Nationalism Revisited” (1973)

The Samburu (Lokop)1 are Maa-speaking pastoralists who herd cattle, sheep, goats, and sometimes camels in the remote mountain fastnesses, temperate highlands, and hot dry lowlands of the Great Rift Valley corridor and its surrounding ranges south and east of Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.2 Their social relations are structured and mediated by an age-grade system in which formal warriorhood occupies an extended period of up to fourteen years between the major life-cycle transitions of circumcision and marriage.3 It is a stage of life that is not only ritually marked but sharply focused on body arts and weaponry as highly visible and volatile metaphors for virility and bravery. Admired by their girlfriends and indulged by their mothers, these young moran4 exist in a state of tension and rivalry with both the warriors of unallied Samburu sections and the older age-sets of men who have left warrior status for a more sober and powerful (but considerably less glamorous) elderhood.

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Medium 9780253014092

1 Indigenous Fashion: Embroidery and Innovation in Mali

Victoria L. Rovine Indiana University Press ePub

You come from afar, you have brought lots of clothes, everyone sings your praises, the best clothes come from Accra, and the person who wears them is the best.

—Dogon song, documented by Isaie Dougnon

A tilbi is more than a boubou.

—Baba Djitteye, embroiderer, Timbuktu, 23 July 2008

In a single region in Mali, two styles of men’s dress embody diverse forms of social status, attitudes toward innovation and perpetuation of past practices, and sources of stylistic inspiration. These styles, known as “Ghana boy” and “tilbi,” have in common a reliance on embroidery as a means of embodying messages, histories, and identities. Yet, these embroidered garments represent quite distinct approaches to style change, the hallmark of fashion. Neither of these sartorial innovations participates in the global fashion system, which is rooted in Western styles and methods. Instead, they offer insights into different fashion worlds, with their own histories, economies, and precedents from which they draw inspiration. Furthermore, these styles contain traces of local as well as global networks of commodities and cultures, literally made legible in the embroidered patterns and figures that adorn the garments.

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2. Idoma Warriorhood and the Pax Britannica

Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Indiana University Press ePub



Ichahoho olébè òche (Ichahoho eats [the meat of] human beings)!

—War cry formerly sung by the Ichahoho mask, Ekpari clan, Akpa District

By contrast with that of the East African pastoralists, Idoma warriorhood in central Nigeria was inscribed within a much more widespread and formulaic colonizing discourse: barbarism that had to be eradicated in order to bring civilization in Africa. David Livingstone, the nineteenth century’s most popular explorer-missionary, summed up the more benign representation of this civilizing mission: “We come upon them as members of a superior race and servants of a God that desires to elevate the more degraded portions of the human family” (Jeal 1973, 382).1 Frederick Lugard, the great architect of British colonial policy, justified colonization much more graphically fifty years later:

The South [in Nigeria] was, for the most part, held in thrall by Fetish worship and the hideous ordeals of witchcraft, human sacrifice, and twin murder. The great Ibo race to the East of the Niger … and their cognate tribes [e.g., Idoma] had not developed beyond the stage of primitive savagery. In the West, the Kingdom of Benin—like its counterpart in Dahomey—had up to 1897 groaned under a despotism which revelled in holocausts of human victims for its Fetish rites. (Lugard 1919/1968, 56)

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5 - The Current Plein Air Painting Phenomenon

Indiana Plein Air Painters Association Quarry Books ePub

Amateur artists as well as professionals, in the twentieth century, found challenge and enjoyment in attempting to capture scenes on canvas or paper outdoors. One of the most famous amateur artists in the 1940s was the prime minister of England, Sir Winston Churchill. To relieve stress from strategizing during World War II, Churchill applied brush to canvas for the first time at age forty-one. He created more than 500 oil paintings over the next forty-five years, receiving positive criticism in the press.

The plein air painting movement has burgeoned in the past three decades, not only in Indiana but also throughout the country. Many state and local organizations have been established, including Arizona, Bay of Fundy, Blue Ridge, California, California of the North, Charlotte, Chicago, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Four Corners, Genesee Valley, Georgia, Great Lakes, Hawaii, Iowa, Laguna, Michigan, Mid-Atlantic, Missouri, Monterey Bay, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Niagara Frontier, North Woods, Ocala (Florida), Oregon, Pikes Peak, Rancocas Valley, Rocky Mountain, Sacramento, Snake River, Southeast, the North, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West, Western North Carolina, Western Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

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1: Small in Stature, Large in Spirit 1854–1881

Rachel Berenson Perry Indiana University Press ePub


THE OHIO RIVER REFLECTED SEASONALLY BRILLIANT yellow and orange leaves of shoreline hardwoods when William Jefferson Forsyth emerged into the world on October 15, 1854. He was to be the first of seven children born to Elijah John Forsyth Jr. (1820–95) and his bride of less than one year, Mary Minerva Hackett (1830–1910).

Elijah John Jr.'s grandfather, Alexander Forsyth (born 1740), emigrated with his wife, Rachel O'Neal, from the north of Ireland. Settling in Baltimore, Alexander was listed in the first American census in 1790 as a tavern keeper.

Alexander and Rachel had three sons and three daughters. The third son, Elijah John, married Mary, the daughter of Bernhard Zell of Baltimore. The couple had seven children. Elijah John drowned while hunting, and in the late 1820s his wife succumbed to the first cholera epidemic in the United States. The children, including Elijah John Jr., were scattered among relatives and orphanages.

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4: The Beginnings of a Teacher Fall 1888–Fall 1897

Rachel Berenson Perry Indiana University Press ePub

Fall 1888–Fall 1897

AFTER DOCKING IN NEW YORK, WILLIAM FORSYTH spent a few days visiting old comrades in the city and “inquiring about the chances for artists at home.”1 He moved back to his family's rented Indianapolis south side house at 213 Fletcher Ave. in mid-October, 1888. Unfortunately, his valise containing clothes and art supplies was stolen by a hack driver in New York. Although the driver was caught, the valise never reappeared, and Forsyth spent considerable effort trying to get compensation for his loss. The company claimed they were only responsible for clothing and refused to pay for painting supplies.

Bolstering his credentials, Forsyth sent a snow scene titled March to Fred Hetherington to be entered in the 1889 National Academy of Design spring exhibition in New York. He also entered three paintings in the 6th Annual Art Association of Indianapolis exhibit in Masonic Hall. His concern about immediate income was somewhat relieved when he took over Adams’ weekend art class in Ft. Wayne.

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Medium 9780253349118

8. Shopping along the Vishvanath Gali

Pravina Shukla Indiana University Press ePub

READYMADE CLOTHING, including salwar suits, is sold in the garment district on Dashaswamedh Road, while saris are available in shops south of Godaulia along Madanpura Road. Silver and gold ornaments can be purchased from small shops in Chauk and Godaulia or from one of the big Kanhaiya Lal stores. The last need women have in the creation of their body art consists of daily items such as toiletries, nail polish, henna and hair products, bindis, sindur, bangles, and “artificial jewelry.”

Women buy these everyday essentials with frequency, for personal pleasure and with little concern for cost, since they are inexpensive and ephemeral; they will be used immediately and not kept for posterity. As women browse through the markets, their choices are spontaneous and casually considered, being inspired by whim or late-breaking fashion. They plan little in advance and do not seek the advice of their husbands or girlfriends, as they do when purchasing expensive jewelry or saris. Shopping for bindis, bangles, and imitation jewelry, women are on their own. They engage directly with the salesmen, listening closely as the merchants provide no end of expert guidance.

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6 The Big Lebowski and Paul de Man: Historicizing Irony and Ironizing Historicism

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

Joshua Kates

Let me begin by historicizing, not irony, but the Dude, though these two options may turn out to be closer than one suspects. The link between the Dude, the hero of the Coen brothers’ 1998 film The Big Lebowski, and the era of the 1960s has seemed to many incontestable. I propose, however, not the 1960s themselves, but a certain reception and interpretation of this era in the 1970s as Jeff’s actual socio-cultural reference point.

Indeed, at issue in the character and way of life of Jeff—as his homonym, the Big Lebowski, points out—is the fate of the already failed revolutionary hopes of the 1960s, as these have been taken up and “processed” by the 1970s. Jeff as we are shown him, in fact, has no living contact with that earlier era. The Dude cannot even be imagined actually doing any of the earlier deeds attributed to him, or to his supposed archetype Jeff “the Dude” Dowd: taking over campus buildings, writing the Port Huron Statement, etc. So, too, from the beginning of Lebowski, Lebowski little and big are distinguished along the axis of activity and quiescence, laziness and achievement (suited to the reference of the 1970s), not in terms of politics or political commitment (as would befit the 1960s). Big Lebowski is credited with being an achiever at least five times after the film’s opening, and even the doting cowboy narrator calls the Dude the laziest man in L.A. (Of course, by the end of the film, the attribute of achievement having been stripped from the putatively “larger” Lebowski, and Jeff having fathered a still smaller Lebowski, it is not clear who really is the big Lebowski: perhaps the larger-than-life, and about to become large with child, Maude Lebowski?)

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Medium 9780253005984

5 Diasporic Values in Contemporary Art: R. B. Kitaj, Ben Katchor, Vera Frenkel

Carol Zemel Indiana University Press ePub

The Diasporist feels uneasy, alert to his new freedom, groundless, even foreign—until or unless he feels very much at home.

—R. B. Kitaj, First Diasporist Manifesto

Exile is always the beginning of narrative—and Diaspora is the place where people talk.

—Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Booking Passage

I begin this chapter and conclude this book with a challenge posed in these epigraphs on Jewish life and art in diaspora. In his First Diasporist Manifesto (1989), the painter R. B. Kitaj declares diaspora’s fundamental ambivalence. It encompasses both the exhilaration and anxiety of being unfettered—free of convention and proscriptive ties—as well as uneasiness in that “groundless” state. The discomfort passes, Kitaj suggests, when the Diasporist recognizes that this state can also be “home.” Aphoristic in style, the Manifesto proclaims displacement as a central condition of modernity and modern art. “Diasporist painting, which I just made up,” Kitaj wrote, “is enacted under peculiar historical and personal freedoms, stresses, dislocation, rupture and momentum. The Diasporist lives and paints in two or more societies at once.”1 Diasporism, then, is deemed a characteristic of modern artists generally. “In my time,” he states, “half the painters of the great schools of Paris, New York and London were not born in their host countries.”2 Kitaj saw a real advantage to this condition for the artist. “As a painter, I’ve come to detect something like moral power or destiny, living in more than one society, wrapped about in art, in its histories and antitheses.”3 But however broad the Manifesto’s claims, and however eager the artist was to see it as a modern condition, Kitaj’s Diasporism is clearly Jewish. “Diasporic painting,” he wrote, “is unfolding commentary on its life-source, the contemplation of a transience, a Midrash . . . in paint. . . . These circumstantial allusions form themselves into secular Responsa or reactions to one’s transient restlessness, un-at-homeness, groundlessness.”4

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