Friday, November 25, 2011

A new prize for creativity in Catalunya


The Exile Memorial Museum (MUME), in collaboration with the Democratic Memorial of Catalonia, is holding the Walter Benjamin Memorial International Prize. The prize, based on the cross-disciplinary nature of the German-Jewish author’s intellectual work, has two main objectives.

On the one hand, given Walter Benjamin’s consideration of the creative act in general, the aim is to foster artistic practice in the fields of the visual and audiovisual arts. On the other, it is to support the theoretical task undertaken by professionals associated with the study of art, photography, architecture, city planning, cinema, philosophy, history, literature and sociology. In both cases, priority will be given to projects that incorporate questions concerning the history and memory of the 20th century. The prize will be held every two years.

Read more here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

"The skin of a bull" by Salvador Espriu

Sometimes it is necessary and right
for a man to die for a people.
But a whole people must never die
for a single man:
remember this, Sepharad.

Keep the bridge of dialogue secured
and try to understand and love
the different minds and tongues of all your children.
Let the rain fall drop by drop on the fields
and the air cross the ample fields
like a soft, benevolent hand.

Let Sepharad live forever
in order and in peace, in work,
and in difficult, hard-won

"La pell de brau" by Salvador Espriu (1913 - 1985)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Three thousand "thank you's!"

Today this blog just had its 3,000th viewing (this time, by someone in Russia, a special Спасибо or "Spasiba" to you) and last month alone had more than 500 hits!

Since its beginning in May 2009, about 30% of visitors to the site have been (surprisingly to me) from the United States, then Spain, Australia, Germany, Russia and Britain.

Also, somewhat unexpected was finding that there are plenty of readers of this blog sitting in South Korea, France, the Ukraine, the Netherlands and the Ukraine.

Up to this point in time, the most-read blog entry (285 pageviews) was this one I wrote about Islam and Sharia law (in Catalonia) from December 2009.

Again, I want to say that I greatly appreciate all visitors to this humble blog and invite you to comment and/or “come back again ‘real soon!”

Friday, November 18, 2011

2011 is becoming 1968

With the Spanish national election tomorrow almost certain to throw up a government from the right-wing of politics, we can only brace ourselves for greater social unrest.

Mainly because of 20% unemployment and extreme budget cuts to vital public services, we are seeing increasing numbers of protests with increasing numbers of protesters.

Yesterday, one of Barcelona’s main boulevards (Diagonal) was occupied by about 10,000 students. The road I use to get to work (B-30) was also cut off by a different group of students from the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB).

Other student protests included throwing coins at the entrance to the stock exchange students and a short sit-in at the headquarters of the Santander bank branch at Plaza Catalunya.

Personally, I am very happy to witness students getting involved in public issues. (In the last 20 years in Australia, almost the only thing university students ever got animated about was the issue of student higher education fees.)

A Rajoy government will cause more people to get out in the streets and some of it will certainly get violent.

The institution called the extended family has been the glue holding society here together but this cannot stick tight for all seasons.

1968 was a high-point of student activism in the USA, France, and even Japan. Co-incidentally, it was the year I was born in.

It may prove better to have been born then. At least better than having children in this coming decade of discontent.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When the Hendrix-loving, French born Cornellá-raised half-Gypsy comes to town

She is Ginesa Ortega and she is doing her musical thing in Vilafranca del Penedès next Saturday night (19 November) at the Auditori Municipal. We will be there to enjoy this hybrid of flamenco, jazz, Billie Holliday and Dulce Pontes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Japan in Barcelona

The Japan Photo Project is launching its new book, simply titled “Japan” at an exhibition at the Private Space tomorrow night (Thursday, the 10th of November) at 7.30.

(Excellent follow-up reports here and here.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another interview with Australian national radio

The other day I was interviewed again by ABC radio for their Overnights program and, amongst other subjects that I have blogged on, I talked about:

How Barcelona and dozens of cities united in world-wide protest

The stealing of children in Spain (compared to Australia's Aboriginal
"stolen generation")

Doctors at a Barcelona hospital offering to perform free operations on
cancer patients

"Catalan Footprints" exhibition in Australia recently

The economic crisis in general here (ie. More than one in five people
in Spain now live below the poverty line.)

Link to MP3 recording of the interview here.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Taking the time to live well

Just in-land from the Costa Brava, Catalunya officially has two towns, Begur and the friendly-sounding Pals, in the extraordinary world-wide Slow Cities movement.

Slow cities are characterised by a way of life that supports people to live slow. Traditions and traditional ways of doing things are valued. These cities stand up against the fast-lane, homogenised world so often seen in other cities throughout the world. Slow cities have less traffic, less noise, fewer crowds.