Tag Archives: books

The French art of war

“About time such a book was brought to the forefront!” I have not read it (yet) but that’s the first thing that came to my mind when I read this about Alex Jenni’s “reflection on France’s colonial history in Indochina and Algeria”. Now I need to dig it! 

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Decolonisation in school books

In relation to my post about Paris’ Museum for Immigration, I would like to mention a young comedian I discovered last weekend on a French comedy show. “Rire Contre le Racisme” (Laughing Against Racism) is a stand-up show with various comedians supposed to make people aware of racism and fight against it. Most of the comedians were boring – if not racist themselves – but fourteen year-old Stephane Bak stuck out and made some smart points about contemporary problems that young people from migrant backgrounds are sometimes faced with; for example he pointed out that the teenage black boy he is could not relate to his school history books as he could not find his own history inside them. I quote him: “the only time I see a black person he is wearing underpants and is being whipped!”. History books would therefore only depict the indigenous populations of the former colonies as “Exotic” figures subjected to the Frenchman.

This reminded me of how French school books are very backwards in how they explain colonisation and decolonisation. I myself remember studying decolonisation as a list: 1956 independence of Tunisia and Morocco, 1958 independence of Guinea etc. Algeria got a little more attention but only because the FLN (Front de Libération Nationale, the Algerian independence movement) was deemed violent enough to be mentioned as it led a series of attacks in France. No mention was made of what France did to Algerians and of its illegitimate presence in Algeria. This approach to France’s recent history goes back to 2005 (43 years after the independence of Algeria!) and I doubt the contents of school books have changed much today…

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DJ who? DJ Spooky

This summer a friend of mine introduced me to DJ Spooky. He was giving a talk nearby. The name in itself is fun; a spooky DJ? I was up for it and off I went! NY-based musician and professor Paul D. Miller is one of those who can talk about almost anything and make it interesting. He could have talked about trash cans and made them fascinating. As it was, he talked about how he collected sounds in Antarctica and used them in mixes. Here is an ice-cold track! Both the concept and the beats are just awesome.

Miller is also the author of Book of Ice which includes the following excerpt:

When you think of the term “ice” there are so many connotations that
come to mind: surface tension, temperature, the opacity of the material,
the basic sense that it can transform between liquid and solid. It’s elusive
because it can become so many things. People use ice for almost every
purpose—they make houses out of it, use it in their drinks, land airplanes
on it, and if you happen to be in Finland, they make musical instruments
out of it.

What I have done with this book is unpack some of the issues that drive
my artwork and its relationship to the constantly changing facets of
contemporary life in our information-economy dominated, post-everything
twenty-first century. Looking back over the last several centuries, an
intense amount of energy has been expended all over the world exploring
and unraveling the meaning of humanity’s condition on the planet.

Whether in the book or with his music, Miller shares his idea of a free space: as the only uninhabited continent of the world, Antarctica has no government and belongs to no country. We are free to experiment music and art in Antarctica, and even imagine flags and logos for the “Republic of Antarctica” as Miller does in his book. Here is a “PDF sample” of Book of Ice.

DJ Spooky is n-ice!

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