weekend links: holiday history, Mitchell F. Chan, Betelhem Makonnen

Mitchell F. Chan
Mitchell F. Chan

Mitchell F. Chan, Something Something National Conversation (In 2 Characters Or Less) (2016).Image courtesy Hyperallergic.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol embodies much of the Christmas we know today: Christmas trees, parties, dinners and children at the center. It may seem staid, but at the time it was revolutionary: Christmas was banned in England by Oliver Cromwell in 1644 and had never really returned. Dickens’ story represented a revival that continues to this day. [Lit Hub]

In other disquieting holiday news: donning blackface at Christmas is still a beloved tradition in Dutch culture, despite urges from the UN and human rights activists to end the practice. Performance artist and activist Quinsy Gario leads the struggle to discuss racism and colonialism in the Netherlands, while political science professor Dan Cassino compares defenders of the tradition to Americans who complain about the “War on Christmas.” [VICE]

In an interview with The Paris Review, novelist and poet Fanny Howe speaks about hanging out with Samuel Beckett as a child, art as theology, and making intense films against the Hollywood aesthetic. [The Paris Review]

New Yorkers have found a colorful way to express their post-election feelings and thoughts by using Post-It notes in one of the city's heavily frequented subway stations. The sticky notes state many sentiments that range from comforting to angry to hopeful, such as "the future is still female," "I hate Donald Trump," and "Love each other. Fight back. Make art." The project, originally started by artist Matthew Chavez, will be preserved thanks to the efforts of The New York Historical Society. [Huffington Post]

Mitchell F. Chan’s new installation Something Something National Conversation (In 2 Characters Or Less) takes headlines from The New York Times, fragments them, and sets them to a monotonous tone with classical instruments, creating the effect of scrolling through news feeds—“a massive representation of discourse as spectacle without substance.” [Hyperallergic]

Obama has been the coolest President: he referenced Jay-Z verses, partied with Prince, hosted “South by South Lawn” and had Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé perform at his inauguration. Trump’s cultural legacy looks a little less inspiring. Check out this fabulous line-up for his inauguration ball: DJ Freedom, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and the Radio City Rockettes, performing against their will. [Flavorwire]

Glasstire has released its list of 2016 favorites, and it’s good to see a healthy dose of Austin art shows and performances on the list. Look back at some of the year’s most exciting exhibits and catch up on what you may have missed. [Glasstire]

Speaking of art shows, make sure to catch Betelhem Makonnen’s ኣለማየሁ : I saw the world, on display at pump project through January 28. Tackling issues of identity and cultural theft through the story of the abducted Ethopian Prince Alemayehu Tewodros, Makonnen’s exhibit pushes viewers to reconsider historical narratives and their own participation in these practices. [Austin Chronicle]

—Katie Lauren Bruton, Sean Redmond, and Catherine Trevino

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