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March 17, 1999 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-03-17

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JUnot Diaz to read at Rackham Amphitheater. As part of the
English department's series, Diaz will read from her short story
collection "Drown." 4th floor, Rackham. 5 p.m. Free admission.
Wednesday
- March 17, 1999

~Ie tc i S&tl

* Weekend, etc. Magazine presents its first-ever Oscar issue,
dedicated to the glories and triumphs (and losses) of the
Academy Awards.

1

Politics? In Hollywood? On
Oscar night? Get outta here!

Quartet to accent Bart6k Dvor'k

4

What makes an artist an artist?
Dqes it come down to talent? Or is it
simply what the public deems worthy
of being called "art?" What defines an
artist as a supreme re-creator of life?
Or a creator,-for that matter... An
attWfi's defined by his passion. He
wild bare the burdens of all evils so
that he may continue to live to create.

He will die for his
passion, or with
it, to see that his
art will live on. I
beieve Elia
Kazan to be such
a man. But he's
just a man ...
This Sunday, as
most of you will
try' t catch as
much-glimpse of
celcbrity skin as
is proffered by
censors, I'll be
looking for more
con trove r si a l
crowd pleasers.
As Joan Rivers

Christopher
Tkaczyk
State of
the Arts

mumbles on about who's schtuping
who, and encumbered guests wrinkle
the royal red carpet, I'll find my scan-
dal elsewhere.
The 71st Annual Academy Awards,
which will air for the first time on the
Christian Sabbath (Sunday), will
bring. to limelight one of the oldest
(and, highly argued) Hollywood con-
troversies. Along with admiration, the
presentation of Elia Kazan's Lifetime
Achievement Award brings a certain
sense of trepidation.
In-March of 1952, Kazan appeared
before the House Un-American
Activities Committee to admit his for-
mer involvement in the American
Communist Party. One month later,
after 'being influenced by friends,
including producer Darryl Zanuck of
20th~ Century Fox, Kazan returned
befofe McCarthy and Company to
voluntarily provide the names of other
communist conspirators - an event
he had dreaded and refused upon his
first round of questioning. In his 1988
autobiography "A Life," Kazan
recalled Zanuck's urgings: "Name the
names, for chrissake," Zanuck said, as
Kazan wrote. "Who the hell are you
going to jail for? You'll be sitting there
and someone else will sure as hell
name those people. Who are you sav-
ing?"
In all, Kazan ratted on eight confi-
dantes, most of whom were his
friends, including writer Clifford
Odetts. While the Hollywood
Blacklisting mostly denied creative
license to writers, Kazan's trigger fin-
ger ended the careers of seven actors,
many of whom never again worked in
Hollywood. Who knows? They coulda
been contenders ...
Before Off-Broadway, the only
chance live theater had at garnering
attention was the Great White Way.
When Kazan began his directorial
career, he worked in the Group
Theater, which produced lower budget
plays that were not considered "big-
tim&' It was at the Group Theater that
he "'prouted his Communist roots. It
wa$ also there that Kazan met and

befriended Arthur Miller.
Kazan made his first big success as
the original director of "Death of a
Salesman." He built a strong career as
an interpreter of Tennessee Williams'
drama "A Streetcar Named Desire,"
which he later transferred to the big
screen. He has won two Oscars for
Best Director, for 1947's
"Gentleman's Agreement" and 1954's
"On the Waterfront."
Numerous Hollywood activists are
planning to protest the awards cere-
mony, keeping that Kazan betrayed
his art and prevented many others
from establishing successful careers.
The Writer's Guild has asked that
those in attendance on Sunday should
refrain from applause when Kazan
stands to receive his award.
Blacklisted writer Bernard Gordon,
who plans to protest the ceremony,
recently told The Baltimore Sun "I
could not forgive this man ever
because of the damage he did to his
country.
It's hard to believe that the normal-
ly leftist community that is
'Hollywood - one that strongly sup-
ported Clinton throughout the
impeachment proceedings - would
still hold an infantile grudge against a
man whose nationalism doesn't even
compare to the setbacks caused by our
current leader.
In a 1972 interview, Kazan
explained himself: "I knew that I'd
lose Arthur Miller's plays. I knew a lot
of guys would turn against me. But in
some ways the whole experience
made a man out of me because it
changed me from being a guy who
was everybody's darling and always
living for people's approval to a fellow
who could stand on his own. It tough-
ened me up a lot."
The Academy has come a long way.
After prohibiting Communists from
receiving award nominations in 1957,
it's now honoring one of the most
infamous instigators from the indus-
try's darkest chapter.
But it's an Academy Award given
for artistic merit. He's not receiving
the Nobel Freakin' Peace Prize, for
Criminy's sake. Kazan did what he
had to do in order to keep at what he
does best - at what he loves best. I
admire him for his dedication, but I
don't admire him for selling out his
integrity to a right-wing bandwagon.
He discovered Marlon Brando, a
legend in his own right. He helped
bring Warren Beatty to the silver
screen.
It's a battle that can never be won;
until art can be defined, no one will
truly know if Kazan deserves the
recognition. But I believe so. He's just
a man ... he's not a saint. He's capable
of faults and regret.
Where there's politics, they're con-
spiracy.
"To forgive or forget?" That is the
question. Whether 'tis nobler in the
mind or the heart ...
-- Chris will be admiring Kazan on
Sun dav, even though he 's still a bit
miffed at the Academy over Lauren
Bacall ... the "Yentl" curse lives on.
He can be reached over e-mail at
tkaczykc@nieh.edu.

By Anna KOVa1SZM
Fine and Performing Arts Editor
The Takics Quartet has existed
since 1993 without the member whose
name it bears. Instead, it has become
an Anglo-Hungarian group, with
Andras Fejer (cello) and Kiroly
Schranz (violin) remaining, and new
additions Edward Dusinberre (violin)
and Roger Tapping (viola).
When asked whether this has
changed their music, Fejer replied,
"Not really, it has just added a fresh
flow of different ideas, in general. We
still ask (each other) what we play and
why we play this or that piece the way

The
Takaacs
Quartet
Rackham Aud.
Tomorrow at 8 p.m.

we do."
W i t h
rehearsals six
days a week,
and even more
often on tour,
the Takacs
Quartet begins
playing a piece
with "an open
mind and open
cars," Fejer
said. "When a
piece has risen
above a certain
level, we listen

cycles in 1998 winning the
Gramophone "Chamber Music
Recording of the Year"'Award, but also
landed them performances at Carnegie
Hall and Lincoln Center..
This year alone, the quartet will per-
form more than 50 concerts, and teach
at the University of Colorado at
Boulder, a permanent faculty appoint-
ment the group has had since 1986.
Thursday evening's program will
include three pieces. Fejer spoke of the
mood and character of each.
Haydn's "String Quartet, Op. 77,
No. 1" is the second to the last quartet
he completed. It is therefore, "mature,
full of ideas, down to earth, witty,
humorous. The rich phrases he created
show his genius in using one simple
material to create a full movement,"
Fejer commented.
Bart6k's "String Quartet No. 3" is
part of the quartet's award-winning
cycle. According to Fejer, "it is not one
of the most easily accessible Bart6k
pieces. It is the only quartet with no
breaks between movements, and there-
fore continues for 17 minutes, non-
stop. The music is extremely driven,
not romantic like the first and second
Bart6k Quartets."
"It contains a human expressive
voice mainly in the slower sections,
with immense amounts of energy
incorporated in the faster ones, (as well
as) certain shrill sounds. There is also a
folk atmosphere, using contrasting col-
ors," Fejer said.
Dvorak's "String Quartet in E-flat
Major, Op. 51" indicates he played the

4

Courtesyof0ICM Artists
The Takacs Quartet returns tomorrow for a performance at Rackham Auditorium.

to other performances and recordings."
This emphasis on finding its own
way of playing has certainly helped the
quartet not only win numerous awards,
including First and Critics' Prize at the
1977 International String Quartet
Competition in Evian, France, and
their recording of the complete Bartok

organ in "the way he orchestrates the
four instruments," Fej6r said.
"Gorgeously free-flowing, mellow and
expressive, highly romantic music,"
characterizes this piece. The move-
ments express different ideas, from
"elegiac, longing, nostalgic music in
the second movement, to the romance
and textural richness of the third, and
sparky, jolly atmosphere of the finale,"
Fejer said.
The group's 1984 UMS Ann Arbor
debut featured the four original mem-
bers, with, essentially, the same caliber
of talent as the current quartet.

via ;*NRH

Fifteen years later, the Takics
Quartet returns, to share again what
audiences so admired. As Fejdr noted,
"College towns, in general, are a very
cultural, learned, open-minded audi-
ence. Because students can be active
players even if they don't major in clas-
sical music, it is fascinating (to play to
these audiences)"
Tickets for the quartet are $12-$24,
and can be purchased at the UMS
Box Office, or by calling 764-2538.;
$10 student rush tickets will be avail-,ti
able tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the
Michigan Union Ticket Office.

Skoglund exhibit weds beau lbizarre

V

By Steve Gertz
Daily Arts Writer
Large groups of neon-green cats, scar-
let foxes and oversized mutant goldfish
have recently invaded nearby Toledo.
No, it's not the premise of a campy,
low-budget science fiction movie, but a
grandiose exhibit at the Toledo Museum
ofArt of the work of contemporary artist
Sandy Skoglund.
In the past two decades, Skoglund has
emerged as one of the country's and, by
extension, the world's premiere new
artists. Her trademark hybridization of
post-modern sculpture and installation
art is widely recognized and acclaimed.
Also an accomplished photographer, she
has graced museum walls, art history
textbook pages
- -- - and T-shirts alike
with the photo-
and graphic reinter-
Sandy pretations of her
Skoglund installations.
Toledo Museum The recent
of Art exhibit in Toledo,
Through May 2, 1999 appropriately
titled "Reality
'' Under Siege" for
' Wits bizarre content,
is one of the
proudest and most
extensive show-
casings of her
work to have been assembled. While
most of her "scenes" have been stationed
individually in museums and private col-
lections, the Toledo show has gathered
four of these pieces, all of which are siz-
able enough to fill a moderately large
room by themselves. In addition, an
entire career retrospective of Skoglund's
photographs and early paintings is also
featured.

Courtesy of The Toldeo Museum of Art
Featuring "Revenge of the Goldfish," Sandy Skoglund's exhibit runs through May 2.

Skoglund's work is notable for its car-
toonish surrealism. Ordinarily mundane
subject matter, such as interior kitchen,
bedroom and bathroom scenes are trans-
formed into otherworldly dreamscapes
by her utilization of bi- and monochro-
matic color schemes.
These settings are further embellished
by the repetitive placement of seemingly
random objects - food items such as
cheese doodles, raisins and half-chewed
bubble gum. Similarly, boldly colored
paper mache animals weave and dance
around some of her landscapes, illumi-
nating them as fireflies would a hot July
evening.
Featured at the show, "Revenge of the
Goldfish;' is a perfect example of her
surrealism. Quite possibly Skoglund's
most famous piece, it boasts foot-long
goldfish that intermittently "swim" -
they are actually hung from the ceiling
by transparent plastic string -through a
children's bedroom setting that has been

painted floor to ceiling, bedsheets, wall-
hangings and all, in an oceanic blue hue.
In addition to "Revenge of the
Goldfish;' three more of Skoglund's
full-room installations are featured, the
two most notable of which are "The
Cocktail Party" and "Walking on
Eggshells."
"Walking on Eggshells,' Skoglund's
most recent assemblage, is the show's
centerpiece. Within its expansive bath-
room setting, meticulously configured
eggshells cover the entire floor. Myriad
sculptures of rattlesnakes and rabbits are
frozen in various states of action
throughout the room, finding residence
everywhere, even on top of the toilets
and sinks. Painted sandy brown and
illustrated throughout with hieroglyphic-
esque text, the scene is ultimately a dras-
tically surreal take on ancient Egyptian
decor.
"The Cocktail Party" is another of
Skoglund's most well4nown images.
Every square inch of it is orange -
not plain orange, but an orange of the
blinding, radioactive variety - an
orange is not merely painted or pasted
on. It comes from a series of intricate-
ly tessellated cheese-doodles that
cover every conceivable square inch its
generous surface area, obscuring even
the life-size sculptures of mingling
party-goers that dance about the floor.
The minglers are situated in perfect

social poses, some even holding matt-
nis and cigarettes, and are animated by
rotating motorized arms and necks.
While it is a treat to witness first-hand
Skoglund's "scenes," she is more well-
known for her large color photographs
them, many of which are also featured i
the exhibit. Popular images such as
"Radioactive Cats" and "Atomic Love;
with their appropriation of food and ani-
mals, are very akin in subject matter to
the installations.
Like "pop" artists of the '60s, such as
Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein,
Skoglund makes potent use of the artis-
tic re-analysis of common object;.
Where Warhol had soup cans ar*
Lichtenstein had comic book frames,
Skoglund has scenes of everyday domes-
tic life.
But while the "pop" artists achieved
their aims primarily through the enlarge-
ment of their subject matter, Skoglhnd's
impact stems from her utilization of
color and the repetition of shapes.
Skoglund's color schemes may be sim-
ple, but they are boldly striking and .an
be both captivatingly beautiful and'dia-
bolically creepy. Her work is richly me
merizing in its presentation but also con-
tains the power to evoke childhood
nightmares of, say, being attacked by
hundreds of freakish goldfish.
Similarly, Skoglund's work is renark-
able for its biting criticism of modern
consumer culture. By re-evaluating
everyday objects and situations and pre-
senting them in such a peculiar and
somewhat disturbing manner, she h
allowed them to be reinvented in a co
text that causes us to re-analyze even the
most seemingly "normal" facets of our
daily lives.
Surely, it is quite a privilege to have
such a vital and impressive collection at
the unlikely venue of the Toledo
Museum of Art. For those who are fortu-
nate enough to have access to a vehicle,
the 45-minute drive down I-23 is a small
price to pay for the memorable experi-
ence of witnessing a top-notch exhibit Q
the work of one of the truly great arti
of our time
For more information call The Toledo
Art Museum at (419) 243-7000.

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