The Artifice Wed, 08 Apr 2020 16:22:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Isao Takahata doesn’t get enough respect Wed, 08 Apr 2020 08:18:55 +0000 Because Hayao Miyazaki has been the most well known renowned figure of studio Ghibli, many people sometimes forget that he’s not the only ingenious individual at work. Isao Takahata the co-founder of studio Ghibli has also made many good films amongst them some are on a par with Hayao Miyazakis work and some of them even greater than Miyazaki features. Don’t you think?

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The Simpsons predicted Covid-19: and other real life coincidences from the television show Wed, 08 Apr 2020 02:09:45 +0000 Many people have been circulating a meme that a 1993 episode of The Simpsons predicted a worldwide pandemic like the novel Coronavirus. There are plenty of other interesting coincidences that overlap in real life and “The Simpsons”

Indian Folk-art: An Expression of Cultural Diversity Tue, 07 Apr 2020 13:45:57 +0000 Indian folk art

India is a religious and ethnically diverse country. Indian culture is characterized by distinct languages, and rich traditions among various ethnic and religious groups. Despite hosting a Hindu-majority it is difficult to attach a singular and unifying notion of identity to Indian culture. This is in part due to the flexible nature of the Hindu religion which allows for the aggregation of numerous regional cultures, and ethnic practices to grow and flourish. The folk and tribal arts of India express the cultural diversity of the nation and provide a window through which one can explore the rich heritage of Indian culture. 1

What is Folk-art?

Folk-art as a visual medium does not have a unique definition but generally consists of all forms of visual art delivered in the context of an existent society within a particular geographical and cultural niche. In this manner, folk-art caters to local tastes and needs, is reflective of the way of life and culture in a community, and provides tangible and intangible forms of art with distinctive styles and objects that stand removed from other cultural developments of their time. 2 3

Indian folk art

Intangible folk-art forms include music, dance, and narrative structures, while tangible folk-art forms refer to objects that are crafted by hand or other means within the traditional practices of a community. The purpose of folk-art is to serve as a medium through which a community’s traditions, beliefs, and attitudes can be transmitted and passed from one generation to another. This is often achieved within families and community via practical demonstrations, conversation, and daily practice. 4

Folk-art was developed to address the very real needs, and desires of a community. Once that need is removed, the relevant folk-art may gradually vanish within the annals of history thanks to decreased transmission and communication of its existence within the community. 5

Indian Folk-Art

Folk-art in India manifests in various forms including pottery, painting, paper-art, weaving, sculpting, metallurgy, and object design involving jewelry and toys. Relevant objects can include masks that are used in religious rituals and ceremonies, paintings, textiles, baskets, kitchen utensils, arms and weapons, religious sculptures (idols) etc. It is also common to have the human body serve as a platform for folk-art via the practices of piercings and tattoos during festivals and religious celebrations.

Indian folk art

Folk-art products each have a symbolic meaning that is attached to them as well as the materials and techniques used to fabricate them. Easily recognizable forms of Indian folk-art include the dazzling sculptures and paintings of puranic gods and mythological figures of Hinduism often sold and displayed in temples, fairs, festivals, and city districts as well as in local households.

The Indian folk-arts have also served as a medium of expression for the cultures of nomadic tribes and ethnic groups within the country. The relevant art forms express the transient and dynamic patterns of lifestyles said communities have experienced while traveling across India. 6

Over the course of Indian history, the various folk-art forms of the nation have been protected and survived under the umbrella of religious and ethnic traditions revolving around familial beliefs, and daily practices. Unfortunately, globalization has resulted in the development of a synthetic macro-culture that has led to the gradual attrition of Indian folk-art. Thus, tremendous efforts have been undertaken by the government of India alongside various NGOs to preserve and protect these arts and to promote them. 7 8

In this article, we will consider five of the most popular and widely recognizable folk-art forms of India that have survived the passage of time.

Thanjavur Art

Thanjavur Art

Tanjore or Thanjavur paintings originate from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, in the city of Thanjavur, about 300 km from the state’s capital city of Chennai. These paintings are essentially “religious paintings with a royal heritage” and are among the greatest traditional art forms noted worldwide. 9

The subject matter of these paintings largely revolve around mythological themes from Hinduism and demonstrate spirituality within the essence of creative art. Once adorning the royal dwelling of the Hindu rulers of Vijayanagar Rayas and Thanjavur Nayaks in the 16th century, these paintings can now be commonly found in every household with figures of Lord Krishna in various poses and depictions of his life being the most popular.

Thanjavur paintings are characterized by remarkable gold leaf work, brilliant color schemes, decorative jewelry with stones and cut glass. The paintings used to be adorned with rubies, diamonds and other precious gemstones, but nowadays, semi-precious stones are used in their place while the practice of using gold foil hasn’t been altered. The paintings are made such that the shine and glean of the gold leaves used last forever. 10

Madhubani Painting

Madhubani Painting

Also referred to as the art of Mithila, Madhubani paintings are said to originate from the kingdom of Janaka, who was the father of Sita in the much beloved Hindu epic Ramayana, in Nepal and in present-day Bihar. 11

The paintings are produced using mineral pigments prepared by the artists and were traditionally drawn on freshly plastered mud walls. For commercial purposes, the same has now been achieved on paper, cloth, canvas, and other media.

Madhubani Painting

The method involves using cotton wrapped around a bamboo stick as the brush. Black color is obtained by mixing soot with cow dung, yellow from turmeric or pollen or lime and the milk of banyan leaves, blue from indigo, red from the kusum flower juice (from the Ceylon Oak tree) or red sandalwood, green from the leaves of apple trees, white from rice powder, and orange from palasha flowers.

The art form is characterized by geometric patterns and mostly depict scenes gods, weddings, flora, and fauna. Madhubani paintings are widely practiced by women as a means to cultivate their spirituality and yearning to be one with God. In fact, the All India Handicrafts Board and the Government of India have encouraged female artists to produce said paintings on handmade paper for commercial sale. In this manner, the Madhubani paintings have become a primary source of income for many families. The paintings now serve as a tribute to the original women of Mithila who first developed the techniques of said wall paintings. 12

Warli Painting

Warli Painting

Warli is one of the oldest art forms of India and originates from the Warli tribe found on the northern outskirts of Mumbai in Western India. Despite their close proximity to one of the largest metropolitan cities in India, Warli culture is distinct in shunning all influences of modern urbanization. 13

Warli tribal art is representative of this attitude and mainly uses geometric structures such as circles, triangles, and squares to depict daily and social events of the Warli tribe. Compared to the Madhubani paintings, Warli art is quite simple. The paintings are often done on a red ochre or dark background, while the shapes are white in color. This color is obtained from the grounding of rice into white powder. 14

Warli Painting

Humans are represented by a circle and two triangles, and through the paintings the Warli believe they can invoke the powers of their gods of worship. Altogether, the paintings are reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings in execution and depict human figures engaged in hunting, dancing, sowing, and harvesting. The paintings are traditionally done in the homes of the Warlis and have served as a means of transmitting stories and traditions to a populace not acquainted with the written word. Warli paintings on paper have now become very popular and are sold all over India. 15

Pattachitra Painting

Pattachitra Painting

An east-Indian counterpart to the Warli as one of the oldest and most popular art forms of India, we find Pattachitra paintings from Odisha. The word Pattachitra is a combination of the Sanskrit words patta (canvas), and chitra (picture), and is basically a canvas painting.

The preparation of the canvas is among the most important aspects of a pattachitra painting. The painters, also called chitrakars, achieve this by preparing tamarind paste (by soaking tamarind seeds in water for three days). The seeds are crushed, and heated in an earthen pot to turn into a paste or niryas kalpa. The paste is used to hold two pieces of cloth together with it, and coated with a soft clay stone powder to keep it firm.

Pattachitra Painting

Once the cloth has become dry, it is polished with a rough stone and the surface is made smooth to become a canvas upon which the painting is made. The paints for the pattachitra originate from the gum of the kaitha tree which serves as the primary base for the various pigments to be generated. Powdered conch shells are used to make white pigments while lamp soot is used for black pigments. The root of the keya plant serves as a course brush, while mouse hair attached to wooden handles serve as finer brushes.

Pattachitra paintings are popular sources of representation of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, the Krishna Lila – where Vishnu’s avatar Krishna displayed his powers, and the depiction of Lord Ganesh as a five-headed deity. Nowadays, pattachitra paintings have also been made on other media including tussar silk and palm leaves, and are frequently used as wall hangings and showpieces. 16



Last, but not least, the Kalamezhuthu comprises a form of folk-art that is among the most recognizable of Indian folk art. Popular variants or counterparts to the Kalamezhuthu include the Rangoli and Kolam or mandalas observed in the domestic routines of Hindu and Indian households in general to draw patterns at the doorstep and courtyard to welcome a deity into the house. 17

Kalamezhuthu specifically comprise of the tradition of drawings found at the entrances of homes and temples. This folk-art form is unique to the south Indian state of Kerala and is practiced in temples and sacred groves where the representations of Hindu deities are made on the floor. The drawings are made using natural pigments and powders of five colors (white, black, yellow, red, and green) and are done with bare hands without the use of tools.

The beautiful patterns are drawn from the center and grow outwards. Lighted oil lamps are often utilized at strategic positions of the patterns to brighten the colors. The patterns themselves are decided in observance with strict religious rules and unlike in rangoli and kolam are rarely made by the choice of artist.

The completion of the Kalam is accompanied by the singing of ritual songs in worship of the deity that is being celebrated. The songs themselves are part of an oral tradition with the rituals being performed by the artists themselves in a folk-art form that combines tangible and intangible media. Upon completion of the rituals, the “kalam” is immediately erased. 18

Indian Artists

Indian folk-art abounds in expression of the country’s rich heritage. Indian art forms are diverse and exquisite in nature but also explicit in their use as a media of communicating ancient oral traditions. With 29 states and 7 union territories, each with their own distinct cultural and traditional identities, India boasts a collage of folk art forms that speak volumes about the country’s diverse cultural identity that is rooted in the daily lives of its people.

Works Cited

  1. “Folk and Tribal Art”. Know India. Culture and Heritage. Visual Arts and Literature. National Informatics Centre, Government of India. 2005.
  3. Wertkin, Gerard C. (2004). “Introduction”. In Wertkin, Gerald C. (ed.). Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. New York, London: Routledge. pp. xxvii–xxxiii.
  4. Wertkin, Gerard C. (2004). “Introduction”. In Wertkin, Gerald C. (ed.). Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. New York, London: Routledge. pp. xxvii–xxxiii.
  5. Wertkin, Gerard C. (2004). “Introduction”. In Wertkin, Gerald C. (ed.). Encyclopedia of American Folk Art. New York, London: Routledge. pp. xxvii–xxxiii.
  7. GVSS, Gramin Vikas Seva Sanshtha (12 June 2011). “Evaluation Study of Tribal/Folk Arts and Culture in West Bengal, Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Bihar” (PDF). Planning Commission. Socio-Economic Research (SER) Division, Planning Commission, Govt. of India New Delhi. p. 53. Retrieved 2 March 2015. … globalization has triggered the emergence of a synthetic macro-culture…is gaining popularity day by day and silently engineering the gradual attrition of tribal/folk art and culture.
  8. “Decline of tribal and folk arts lamented”. Deccan Herald. Gudibanda, Karnataka, India. 3 July 2008. Archived from the original on 2 March 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015. In the wave of electronic media, our … ancient culture and tribal art have been declining, …, said folklore researcher J Srinivasaiah.
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Life Under Lockdown on Screen Sat, 04 Apr 2020 11:40:56 +0000 With many countries all over the world experiencing lockdowns and other imposed ways of living – what films have shown this life best? Contagion? 28 Days Later?

Buffy as a role model for us all Sat, 04 Apr 2020 09:59:19 +0000 Link the narrative arcs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) to the #metoo movement. Buffy manages to be the one who saves the world (with the Scooby gang) whilst working her way through a number of relationships with the ‘wrong’ man. These included the bad boy who can’t be saved, the stalked, the good guy who finished last and ‘beer goggles’. in the context of metoo – how is Buffy conceptualised in present day through this lens?

Jojo Rabbit – The Nazi Comedy That Struck A Chord by Sidestepping Modern Racism Fri, 03 Apr 2020 13:18:56 +0000

When asked why he chose to play Adolf Hitler in his WW2 comedy, Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi’s response was documented far and wide in a multitude of media outlets – “what better fuck you to that guy?” Referring to how he self-identifies as a “Polynesian Jew”.

And he’s not wrong. That is a great way to tarnish one of the evillest men to come out of Europe. But that sentence in itself brings up another point. He already is one of the most abhorrent characters in history, and that’s generally accepted around the world. Which leads you to ask the question – is another film revealing the severe inhumanity of the Nazi party really what we need in modern society? Especially when there are so many more prescient issues also being discussed.

This article will delve into how a film like Jojo Rabbit portrays race issues and the disparity between that and other examples of nuanced modern racism.

Taika Waititi as Adolf Hitler

The Overt and the Nuanced

Leaving larger examples of racial tensions, like the Unite to Right rally in Charlottesville, to one side, many matters of racism in modern life are much more nuanced than the overtness of the Nazi doctrine of ethnic cleansing.

The violence of the American Civil Rights Movement, the despicable actions of the Klu Klax Klan, the widespread hate crimes committed by the National Front in the UK – these are all easily condemnable acts of racial hatred that don’t need great analysis for people to be on the same page. But, the discourse is different now. Acts like these still happen, albeit on a smaller scale, but it’s when seemingly “subtler” race issues are highlighted that the divide of our current culture becomes most apparent.

A large number of white people feel like after, for want of a better word, “solving” these overt acts of racism – the battle is over. To this group of white people, the fact that any minorities could possibly complain about things as trivial as the Oscars having a 92% white membership when just 30 years ago they were being attacked on the streets – is completely baffling. But in a way, that’s exactly why we can see these more nuanced takes on hatred. Now, the large swathes of racial attacks have mostly subsided – we’re left to see more subtle examples that were previously ignored.

Many people call these acts ‘everyday racism’ – views and actions that are institutionalised or deeply ingrained in our cultural psyche. Think of Donald Trump using the phrase “go back where you came from.” A line which has endless amounts of emotional baggage for any person of colour who has migrated to another country.

The US President, Donald Trump

The line itself stems from the longer version of the phrase – “if you don’t like it here, then why don’t you go back where you came from?” Defenders of this sentiment label it purely as patriotic and/or nationalistic, stating it’s more of a comment on how their country runs rather than any comment on migrants living in that very same country. But this language isn’t that anymore, it’s been weaponised.

This phrase, and many others like it, have been used in conjunction with numerous acts of racism and hate crimes, thus changing its impact. And for a person in the public eye, let alone in the highest office of the “free world”, to use it so casually – it basically sanctions his followers to do the same.

Even though it’s quite a broad version of it, Trump using this language is highly codified. He doesn’t actually say anything racist, but it’s implied because of the history of both his views and the phrase.

Stepping away from codified language for a second, another complicated part of modern racism is humour.

Many people still defend certain views or attitudes under the premise of comedy. Think of Boris Johnson referring to Muslim women as letterboxes, with thousands of people rushing to protect his right to make a “joke”.

The British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson

One such person being Rowan Atkinson, the actor behind Mr Bean. Atkinson said.

“As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson’s joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one. All jokes about religion cause offence, so it’s pointless apologising for them. You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required.”

Without taking any approach of dissecting what he actually said, the sentiment of his response basically translates to “if it’s funny, it’s fine”. But isn’t comedy subjective? And shouldn’t the people who the joke is aimed at be the ones to decide whether it’s funny?

Words are a much harder thing to overtly persecute than actions. They’re slippery, people can wriggle out of them, and as Kendall Roy proclaims on Succession, “words are nothing, just complicated airflow.”

Culture of Division

As recent elections, referendums, and re-elections have shown us – modern society is an incredibly divided one. Just look at another recent release, The Hunt, for more evidence. And that division in modern life is best represented when it comes to matters of racism, and indeed, what is even deemed as racist.

Racism hasn’t gone away in the 21st century, it’s simply shifted gears. It’s much less obvious in modern society, for every person of colour calling out racial micro-aggressions and highlighting the hypocrisy of white privilege, there are an equal amount of alt-right commentators illustrating the increasingly hazardous plight of the white person.

A perfect recent example of this centres on the recent issue of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle leaving the UK for Canada.

A cultural touchstone for modern race issues in the UK – Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

The popular UK breakfast show, This Morning, ran a feature entitled “Is Racism At the Heart of Meghan and Harry’s Departure?” In the segment, Women’s Rights Activist Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu explained that the treatment of Meghan stemmed from “a culture of racism in the United Kingdom”.

At this point, one of the presenters, Philip Schofield, asks the question “what examples do you have?”

To which, Dr Mos-Shogbamimu responds “where have you been the past two years?”

The UK breakfast show, This Morning

This brief exchange perfectly shows how far apart the two perceived sides of culture are from one another – with neither of them willing to see the other’s point of view. One of them is completely oblivious to what they’re talking about, while the other is so dumbfounded they can’t even muster the energy to list the events.

Is it All Just a Joke?

Danny Baker’s racially insensitive “joke”

One incident that Dr Mos-Shogbamimu could have referenced was when British TV personality Danny Baker tweeted a picture of a chimpanzee and claimed it was Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby son.

Multiple people from either side of the debate leapt into the discussion of this joke, some to defend, some to condemn. But regardless of your opinion on whether this was a legitimate joke to make, the fact remains, he wasn’t making a similar comparison to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s child.

So, how does Jojo Rabbit fit into all this?

Nominated for six Academy Awards this year, a total which is exactly six times more than any of Waititi’s previous feature films – that all share a light-hearted tone and whimsical humour. It’s this same climate of a divided society that makes Jojo Rabbit’s success unsurprising.

Regardless of what side of the fence you sit on, everyone can agree that overt racism and bigotry is bad – and that’s why everyone can get behind a film like Jojo Rabbit. The views shared in the movie are so outrageous and demonic that no one in their right mind could even start to defend them.

Through A Child’s Eyes

Not content with purely portraying adult Nazis with these wildly outrageous views, the movie actually has the lead character of Jojo, a 10-year-old in the Hitler Youth, share some of the most abhorrent views. Mentioning that Jews have horns, drawing them as fantastical creatures, and referring to them as non-human.

Hearing these outlandish words from a child does two things simultaneously, firstly, it makes them sound even more ridiculous. And secondly, it exposes a key way of how people attain views in the first place – being taught them.

When it comes to these outdated views on race, Jojo’s opinions in the movie are completely sculpted by those around him. Firstly, by the Nazis he so idolises. And then secondly, by the Jewish girl his mother is harbouring in their house.

Jojo and his new Jewish friend

His default views are based completely on the words of others, believing everything he’s told – as many students with no contrasting evidence would do. But as he actually accrues some life experience for himself, namely spending time with a Jewish person, he breaks the shackles of his previously held ‘blind fanaticism’, as Stephen Merchant’s character refers to it in the movie.

Jojo’s journey into tolerance is one that generally works on most people. The more personal experience and connections one makes with people from different walks of life, the more they see them as human, and the less they believe in generalising or assumptive stories that aren’t based on fact.

So, watching a child go on this journey is obviously quite cathartic – showing that people’s extreme opinions can be changed. But despite this, simply watching a film that has this type of story doesn’t actually replicate it for the audience. Especially, when you consider how much more stubborn adults can be too.

Culture Caricature

Looping back around to Taika Waititi himself, he claimed that he did next to no research for his portrayal of Adolf Hitler, stating that he didn’t need to “because he was such a fucking cunt, and everyone knows that as well.” While this fits into his objective of further besmirching his legacy, it also undercuts the effectiveness of a plot point later on in the movie.

Writer-director, Taika Waititi

Throughout the first part of the movie, Waititi’s Hitler is the butt of the jokes. Yes, Jojo idolises him, but the audience laughs at his outlandish claims and clearly transparent lies. Whether that’s because we all know about his eventual demise, or just that it’s so surprising to hear this sort of racist discourse in the context of a big-budget comedy, seeing Hitler portrayed like this is very different. But, he is still Hitler. And when you think about the ideas behind the words being used for punchlines, they’re filled with an unbelievable amount of hate.

As Jojo is finally coming around to losing his stereotypical views of non-Aryan people, a final exchange with Hitler really brings it home. Losing his temper for the very first time, we see him for what he truly is – helping Jojo sever all ties with his Nazi identity. But, that doesn’t happen for the audience. Well, not the majority of them anyway.

Most viewers already know these ideas are outlandish. And taking the specific example of Nazis vs Jewish people out of the equation, this example of stereotypical caricatures being broken down isn’t particularly useful or applicable in the context of modern race issues.

Waititi’s comedic portrayal of Hitler can’t cover up his evil

Most people in modern society know that not all women are bad drivers, and expressing the opposite means you’re sharing a sexist opinion. The same for countless stereotypes across gender, race, and social lines. And seeing a rebuttal of these types of views on the big screen in 2020, as Jojo Rabbit does here, is something which feels a little out of sync for the younger generations. Like closing the stable door after the horse has already bolted.

And all of this isn’t to say the film isn’t good or enjoyable, it’s both! But it’s worrying that a movie that portrays racism as out and out evil, and as something that is so completely devoid of nuance is one of the only major Hollywood movies speaking about race right now. Especially in a time where there is so much more complexity out there.

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Folk arts of India: production of cultural expressiveness Fri, 03 Apr 2020 09:59:18 +0000 Through a study of different tangible folk art forms, this article will examine how it preserves and showcases the cultural diversity of India

Kitana From Princess to Empress of Outworld: Women’s clothing in video games Wed, 01 Apr 2020 17:00:06 +0000 In the past many video games generally targeted at males, like fighting and racing games feature women characters “scantily clad” clothing. However, when Mortal Kombat 11 released last year, most of the female characters had stronger personalities and covered up a lot more of their skin than they had in previous games.

One example is Kitana the former princess of Outworld. In previous games, she often wore blue string-like clothing with high boots. As the new Empress of Outworld, however, Kitana not only has power, but is covered from collar bone to ankles.

The power of fashion in social progress Wed, 01 Apr 2020 13:47:58 +0000 While the fashion industry has been historically known for promoting unhealthy beauty standards and gender norms, it is shifting towards a more diverse representation which breaks down gender norms. The article would analyze the shifts in fashion media and trends overtime and how it pertains to gender norms, body image and more. Additionally, it will detail the areas in which the industry still lacks.

Is shelter-in-place helping to define “dress for yourself” Tue, 31 Mar 2020 02:56:49 +0000 During these uncertain times, it seems that the things we do for ourselves– without any exterior motivations– are becoming clearer. The phrase “dress for yourself” has gained a lot of momentum amongst those who actively appreciate fashion as well as those who do not give it much thought. Without the complicating factors of social validation (whether that is conformity or aiming to stand out), this article will analyze whether or not quarantine is allowing people to truly dress for themselves.