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November 29, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-11-29

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8 - Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

MUSIC COLUMN
Disco is stayin alive in
today's pop music scene

FILE PHOTO/Daily

Mark di Suvero's 'Tabletops' exhibit complements his sculpture Orion, located outside of UMMA.

UMMAs tiny tables

Mark di Suvero's an interview with The Michi-
gan Daily. "That's not to say the
'Tabletops' explores medium is not vital to the work,
but for me, the artistic thought
size and art translates from steel to pen, from
giant landscapes to canvas."
By JONATHAN ODDEN That is why the show brings
For the Daily together tabletops - his smaller
sculptures - in the gallery, paint-
Dwarfing students as they ings on the walls and his larger
pass, two prodigious, almost landscaped sculptures outside.
alien frames tower over the lawn The tabletops are small, no larg-
of the Univer- er than several feet tall, and are
sity of Michigan Tabletops made of cut stainless steel and
Museum of Art. other materials that rotate, swing
The gigantic Through Feb. and pivot around on axes.
orange arms of 26,2012 "One of the main ideas is to
Orion stretch study the tabletops, which are
immensely UMA lesser known and very beautiful,
toward the sky, Free and to relate the intuitive forms
and the huge of these smaller sculptures to the
welded bucket of Shang swings giant structures on the lawn,"
with ease above the concrete. Rosa said.
These sculptures are not only The relationships between
iconic to campus, but they epito- the tabletops and di Suvero's
mize the fusion of abstracted steel larger works not only speak to
and public space that has become the breadth of his talent and
synonymous with abstract- scales of his sculpted form, but
expressionist Mark di Suvero. they also express the aesthetic
Like many artists, di Suvero considerations that drive di
is known for one particular style Suvero artistically.
but not necessarily his consid- "Literally, these tabletops
erable work in other mediums give Shang and Orion a history,"
and scales, as UMMA director Rosa said. "In many instances
Joseph Rosa explained. "Table- you will see a piece of art you
tops," the newest show to open like and you just see the object,
in the Irving Stern Jr. Gallery but then when you see the other
at UMMA, brings out the depth pieces the artist has made, it
of di Suvero's aesthetics and his brings the person to life who
diverse imprint on the art world made that piece. You understand
for more than 50 years. the family of gestures that one
"Art is driven by idea, cre- makes as an artist."
ativity, aesthetics and not by These gestures even translate
a medium," di Suvero said in into the most rare di Suvero piec-

es - his three murals that sur-
round the gallery. Rosa explai'ned
that the pieces are distinct in the
cues they take from di SuveroW
interest in calligraphy, which is
rarely seen in the construction of
pieces like Shang or Orion.
"I'd become fascinated with
calligraphy from a young age,
which in part stemmed from my
childhood in China," di Suvero
said. "There is a fluidity in callig-
raphy, regardless of which scrip
which I began trying to capture
in my painting."
Equally intriguing is the lay-
out of the exhibition, which,
though numbered chronologi-
cally, fights against the museum-
goer walking a simple timeline
through the show.
"When you install, you never
install in the chronology of the
art, especially with sculptural
pieces," Rosa said. "When you
look at art three-dimensionally,
or even two-dimensionally, you
want people to feel moved by the
pieces, by forms and not by time."
Moving through the gallery,
the sculptures eventually lead
to a final project called Cumon,
under which is written, "touch
this piece." Gently spinning the
work, one becomes aware of the
intriguing power of these little
tabletops. More than just flesh-
ing out di Suvero's works with the
artist's aesthetics or highlighting
the diverse mediums of a great
artist, "Tabletops" actually allows
visitors to take the place of Shang
or Orion and tower over Mark di
Suvero's dynamic forms.

According to the Bill-
board Hot 100, Rihan-
na's "We Found Love"
currently holds the number
one spot and has held it, uncon-
tested, for
nine weeks.
It's Rihanna's
11th number
one single,
the first
from another
number one
album (she's JOE
put out six in DIMUZIO
the last six
years) and
another swipe at keeping us
from forgetting her name (oh
na na) for more than a couple
weeks - a very necessary tenet
for a modern pop star.
I'm not sure it's anywhere
near her best singles ("Umbrel-
la," "Rude Boy") or somewhere
far above them. Produced by
Calvin Harris (of whose "I
Created Disco" I admire for
cockiness and nothing else),
it's simple, stupid and huge in
all the right ways. Deploying
Rihanna's vocals like an after-
thought, the song's two-note
melody progresses like a seven-
year-old's annoyance tactic -
turninga volume knob down for
a bit (verse) and then blasting it
all the way up (chorus).
This style of big-dumb-club
music now dominating top-40
pop thumps like the attention-
deficit descendant of disco - at
its best and worst.
And at its best, disco was an
alternative reality. In its origin,
disco was a liberation for the
disenfranchised - the intoxi-
cated soundtrack to queerdom's
incessant struggle becoming

public.'
is revel
rhythm
ing ecst
relentle
able abo
music.
Once
out ever
disco, A
choreog
inhibite
fice and
be subst
childrer
jungle..
Butt]
tion ofd
in songs
howeve
and fun
LoN
In th
nomic d
for man
from th
global e
social h
of a mot
positing
now, in
period,
ing, esc
free of r
being bl
ever.
But"
its man
cally su
is beaut

The best disco music vague. The refrain, "We found
atory - worshiping love in a hopeless place," makes
, occasionally achiev- nothing clear. Is this reminis-
atic release and being cence or a new discovery? Are
ssly, deliberately dance- we allowed to sing along?
ve all else. It is moving And in its gorgeously stupid
indefinity, "We Found Love"
white culture washed defies codification. A-sensibly,
'ything funky about it creates its own reverie logic,
merica was left with with a few very real signifiers.
;raphed dances (for the We can live in a hopeless place.
d and rhythmless), arti- We can create a hopeless place
cheese; leaving disco to for ourselves. We can be trapped
umed by its innumerable by a hopeless situation beyond
n - house, techno, IDM, our control, beyond us. We found
. the list goes ever on. love, big fat capital-L love. The
he courageous abstrac- idealistic dream-stuff. We may
disco is, to me, very alive not have money or a future, but
s like "We Found Love," for just a moment, we can create
r shorn of contour, color our own reality in which all the
k. big dumb dreams come true. No
amount of drinking, drugs and
sex can bring us closer to it. This
We Found hope, God-free, is its damned,
tragic pop religion. it is faith.
*e'in a dsc And that is very disco.
However obscured, the
dystopia heartbeat tempo of 4/4 - and
my left foot's inability to remain
still upon feeling it - lives
on. I hear it in Ke$ha's "Shots
e midst of the '70s eco- On The Hood Of My Car" in
lepression, disco was, which she imagines the "whole
y, more than an escape world about to end," inviting
e harsh realities of her friends over for a bottle of
conomy, politics and "the finest scotch there ever
atred - it was a vision was" and watching it "blow into
re accepting society, . oblivion." Ihear it in Britney's
g a whole new truth. And "Til The World Ends," where
an even worse economic dancing hurtles us straight into
our pop stars like party- apocalypse. I-hear it all over pop
aping and being fucked these days. And my heart, head
esponsibility (or at least and feet are going to keep tap-
lunt about it) more than ping to it, no matter how hope-
less things get.

4
4

We Found Love," with
tric chorus, practi-
rrendered by Rihanna,
ifully, surrealistically

Dimuzio is dancing 'til dawn.
To give-him a rest, e-mail
shonenjo@umich.edu.

FILM REVIEW
Cultivating beauty in unsettling
'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

ALBUM REVIEW
Cornell back to basics

By ELLIOT ALPERN
Daily Arts Writer
Picture the scene: Tendrils
of smoke drift idly up to a hot
spotlight, which concentrates
its beam on
a single man *
perched upon
his stool. The Chris COmell
small crowd,
hidden by the Songbook
darkness of the Unoersal
venue, is anx-
ious but hushed
in restraint. In the silence a note
rings out, followed by another
and another until they blend
together into pure acoustic
enlightenment. But this isn't
Clapton picking away the first
strums of "Tears In Heaven" or
Bob Dylan getting ready to ren-
der the audience stunned. No,
this is Chris Cornell, his raw
voice building a sultry monu-
ment to Soundgarden's "Fell On
Black Days."
For a man who's done so
much, it's surprising to see that
Cornell has anything new to
offer - after all, his last three
solo albums commercially
flopped (and each garnered
more negative criticism than the
last). But Songbook is different:
The album consists of acoustic
covers that span Cornell's entire
career, from the grunge pioneer
Soundgarden to the supergroup
Audioslave and everywhere in
between. Songbook seems to
have found exactly the target to
which it must pander - the nos-
talgia of longtime fans filtered
through a fresh acoustic lens.
The end product - a smat-
tering of 16 live-recorded tracks
from nine different shows - is

quite easily Cornell's best solo
work since 1999's Euphoria
Morning. The divine rock idol
pushes an already impressive
vocal range early and often. In
"Call Me A Dog," a cover from
Cornell's early'90s tribute band
Temple of the Dog, the man's
emotive howl treads ever so
softly on the toes of modern
blues masters. His guitar melo-
dies reach comparable levels of
emotion and are all but eclipsed
by the singer's powerful vocal

belting
dent to
like Au
Highw,

G
be
'

tioned
Yet a
venue,t
the aud
is occas
the s
betwee
point tr
change
one hap
for a w
crowd
and cot
"And th
you're 1
then yo
Change
cheers,
what m
sioned t

- listeners would be pru- one that'sbeen colored with some
pay attention on tracks context by Cornell's vague yet
dioslave cover "I Am The revealing anecdote.
ay" and the aforemen- Songbook isn't just a summa-
tion of Cornell's body of work,
even if its title suggests other-
wise. In addition to one lonely
runge god new studio track tacked onto
the record's end ("The Keeper"),
'its it out on Cornell tackles Led Zeppelin's
"Thank You" and John Len-
5ongbook.' non's "Imagine." The former
seems like it's always been beg-
ging to be re-done by a true-to-
heart rock'n'roller, and Cornell
"Fell On Black Days." knocks it out of the park. How-
imid the many changes of ever, while the latter is well exe-
Cornell's connection with cuted, the change of style is a bit
Bence is well preserved and too abrasive.
sionally depicted through Ultimately, Songbook allows
inger's various asides Chris Cornell to do what he does
n songs. "You at some best: scream sometimes, lilt
y to be a better person and softly at others and altogether
your ways to make every- flex his vocal muscles. Every
ppy, and then that goes on cover is carefully reinterpreted
hile," Cornell says to the or redefined, and the transition
before one performance, from the expanse of instruments
ntinues to the punch line: of his booming power rock to a
en you get to a point where single acoustic guitar is magnifi-
ike, 'Fuck it, I'm me!' and cently smooth. Cornell's latest
u write a song called 'Can't shows that the man who used to
Me.' " Over the crowd's lead entire arenas in choruses of
the rocker launches into his hits can just as easily bear his
tight be the most impas- heart from a wooden stool - and
tune on the record - and possibly even do it better.
A 4

By PHILIP CONKLIN
Daily Arts Writer
"Do you ever have that feel-
ing where you can't tell if
something's a memory or it's
something you
dreamed?"
Posed by the
film's titular maltfi
main charac-
ter (newcom -MaMy MaY
er Elizabeth g g
Olsen), this is
one of the cen- At the State
tral questions FoxSearchlight
behind "Mar-
tha Marcy May
Marlene," the excellent feature
debut from director Sean Dur-
kin. In this elusive psychological
drama, nothing is ever certain -
the audience drifts through time
and space isolated from the out-
side world, piecing together the
lives of the characters - and it's
entirely captivating.
The film opens with a mon-
tage of wide, grainy and static
shots of an unidentified rural
landscape, where anonymous
youths languidly work the field.
From this agrarian existence,
Martha (here called Marcy
May) escapes and is rescued
by her older sister Lucy (Sarah
Paulson, "Serenity"). Here the
narrative splits, telling the story
of Martha's readjustment into
normal life with Lucy and her
husband (Hugh Dancy, "Adam"),
a young couple trying to start a
family, in parallel with Martha's
time in a sinister, bohemian cult
in the wilderness.
While Martha tries to assimi-
late herself into her sister's life,
her behavior becomes progres-
sively stranger. She reveals socio-
pathic tendencies in her reticence
and detachment, as well as her
inability to behave and interact
appropriately with people. These
scenes are seen alongside the
story of Martha's involvement in
a cult led by the rugged, creepy
Patrick, played brilliantly by John
Hawkes ("Winter's Bone"), a mes-
merizing man who rules over his
cult's members (mostly young
women) completely - physically,
emotionally and sexually.

I'l show you, Mary-Kate!
As the title suggests, Martha
is an enigmatic, almost unknow-
able character. But thanks to a
powerful, nuanced performance
by Olsen, Martha comes beauti-
fully alive onscreen. Yet hers is a
complicated beauty - as the pas-
sive camera shows Martha mat-
ter-of-factly skinny-dipping in
broad daylight, or almost being
raped by Patrick, her sexuality
is a constant source of tension,
alternately alluring and disturb-
ing. Martha herself seems con-
fused by it, and this confusion
results in some of the film's most
compelling scenes.
Late in the movie, when Mar-
tha is becoming disillusioned
with the cult and wary of its
brutality, one of her fellow cult
members says, "There's no such
thing as dead or alive; we just
exist." It's a principle that the
movie mimics. Martha's past is
hazy, and her future uncertain
- she only exists in the present
moment. She and the rest of the
film's characters inhabit a time-
less, placeless isolation. As the
movie progresses, a crushing
loneliness bears down, guided
by the sure directorial hand of
Durkin, whose probing camera
never reveals a complete picture,
forcing Martha's feelings of iso-
lation on the audience.
"Martha" forces the viewer

to think, to engage with the
film intellectually and emotion-
ally. And though it's confusing
at points, the characters and
their relationships are fascinat-
ing. Durkin, for such a young
director, has complete control
over his film and an already fully
developed visual style.
Who even
knew there's
a third Olsen
sister?
As the film goes on, the lines
between Martha's life in the
cult and her time with her sis-
ter begin to blur. The transi-
tions between her memories and
the present become more fluid, E
so that sometimes it's unclear
which we're seeing. The events,
too, begin to mirror each other,
Lucy's behavior toward Martha
becoming eerily similar to her
treatment by Patrick and the
cult. It's a poignant comparison, '
but one that is at times heavy-
handed. However, it's a small
flaw in an otherwise perfect
film.

A

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