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Macron, Scholz, Draghi In Kyiv - EU Membership On The Table

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi made a joint visit to Ukraine on Thursday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the country’s EU membership aspirations and further arms supplies to repel Russia’s invasion.

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The trio of European leaders arrived in Kyiv on an overnight train, joined by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. Upon arriving, Macron highlighted the symbolic importance of the trip, stating: “It's an important moment. It's a message of unity we're sending to the Ukrainians, of support, to talk both about the present and the future, since the coming weeks, as we know, will be very difficult.”

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Icons Of Ukraine: Street Art Marks World's Support For A People And A Cause

In the last 100 days, street art murals supporting Ukrainian resistance have appeared everywhere from Kyiv to Syria. Here's a look at the most moving and powerful murals.

KYIV — "Art is our weapon. Culture is a form of resistance"

These words belong to Shirin Neshat, an Iranian political refugee, photo artist and film director living and working in exile in the United States.

Art forms the context and culture that decides how society will perceive certain historical events, and, as a result, which society will be the winner of the war. So, this statement brings us to the Ukrainian art of the last 100 days. This is the art of information resistance.

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Films, books and paintings based on the events after February 24 are just appearing in the authors’ minds. The CHESNO movement (from the Ukrainian word "honestly") decided to make a selection of street art about the war as part of the exhibition "Information Front: Boards, Murals, Graffiti." They want to preserve these cultural and artistic voices.

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Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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Cancel Russia? The Risk Of Targeting Culture In Times Of War

From Tolstoy and the Bolshoi Ballet to Russia Today, the West is banishing Russian composers, artists and media. But is banishment of culture the right move in times of war?

BERLIN — Last week German TV channel RTL Nitro changed its schedule: instead of showing the classic James Bond film From Russia with Love, it ran with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But wasn’t Vladimir Putin part of the secret service, and didn’t he say, “Once KGB, always KGB?” So maybe Goldfinger would have been a more appropriate choice? Or even Quantum of Solace?

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Of course, it’s important for programming to be tactful, especially during a crisis. But there are more important things at stake than tact. Almost the entire cultural sector seems to be scrutinizing itself, asking what links orchestras, museums or institutions have to Russia, whether they need to cut ties with them and how they can justify these decisions.

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Ideas
Cecilia Noce*

Beyond The Artists, Days Are Numbered For The Cuban Regime

The Cuban government has once again jailed dissenting artists or forced them to flee. But anger at the 60-year dictatorship has spread far beyond artistic circles and the regime no longer has the power to silence people.

-OpEd-

It was just over a year ago, on Jan. 27, 2021, when Cuba's Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso slapped a protester in the face at a demonstration at the Ministry of Culture. Other demonstrators were then arrested.

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Society
Maximilian Kalkhof

How The Top Collector Of Chinese Art Evades Censors In New Hong Kong Museum

Swiss businessman Uli Sigg is the most important collector of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he gave away most of his collection to the M+ in Hong Kong. Now the museum has opened as the Communist Party is cracking down hard on freedom of expression. So how do you run a museum in the face of widespread censorship from Beijing?

The first test has been passed, Uli Sigg thinks. So far, everything has gone well. His new exhibition has opened, visitors like to come, and — this is the most important thing for the Swiss businessman — everything is on display. He has not had to take an exhibit off the list of works.

The M+ in Hong Kong is a new museum that wants to compete with the established ones. It wants to surpass the MoMa in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sigg, a rather down-to-earth man, says: “There is no better museum in the whole world.” That is very much self-praise, since Sigg’s own collection is central to the museum.

The only problem is: great art is often political; it questions the rulers. Since the Chinese Communist Party has been cracking down on critics and freedom in Hong Kong, the metropolis is a bad place for politics and art. So how did the collection get there?

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Society

The Barber Of Amsterdam? Dutch Culture Sector's Hair-Razing COVID Protest

Theaters, museums and cinemas welcomed "essential services" on their stage floors to make a point about the industry's struggles during the latest COVID lockdown.

It’s an unusual sight even in these unusual times: in the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam's prestigious concert hall, a man sits on stage getting his hair cut. Behind him, an orchestra plays Charles Ives' Symphony no. 2. In front of him, dozens of people are watching — both the orchestra, and to see when it's their turn for the next haircut.

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Coronavirus
Andrea Matallana

Why U.S. Vaccine Diplomacy In Latin America Makes "Good" Sense

Echoing its cultural diplomacy of the early 20th century, the United States is gifting vaccines to Latin America as part of a renewed "good neighbor'' policy.

-Analysis-

BUENOS AIRES — Just before and during World War II, the United States' Good Neighbor policy proved a very effective strategy to improve ties with Latin America. Initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the policy's main goal was non-interference and non-intervention. The U.S. would instead focus on reciprocal exchanges with their southern neighbors, including through art and cultural diplomacy.

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LGBTQ Plus
Haseeb Asif

Meet Muhammad Moiz, Pakistan's Very Political Answer To Ru Paul

Turning identity and language on its head, this unique drag queen performer and activist is challenging preconceptions — even within the LGBTQ

LAHORE — Muhammad Moiz has multiple personas: a brash, outspoken woman behind Snapchat filters called Shumaila Bhatti, ruminating on family, Rishta Aunties, lip fillers, wedding seasons and gossip; a drag queen who does dirty comedy all about sex and sexuality called Miss Phudina Chatni; and a podcast where Moiz and a friend are just being their introspective, irreverent selves.

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Economy
Béatrice Brasseur

Blockchain Uncorked, Champagne And Fine Wine Hit The NFT Market

In just a few months, NFTs, the digital equivalent of collectables, have generated over $10 billion. Now, luxury champagne and wine brands are moving into the world of digital assets. But as investors and vineyards toast to the future, will the concept pop or fizzle?

PARIS — What's new in champagne? Tokenized bubbles!

In October, Dom Pérignon demonstrated it perpetual creative effervescence by launching limited edition boxes of its 2010 vintage and its 2006 rosé, which were "designed" in collaboration with the megastar Lady Gaga (available only on the French market). The 100 bottles — a few drops in the ocean of bubbles produced by Dom Pérignon — and their digital versions were offered for sale in a 100% virtual space. In search of new fans and eager to "create rarity within rarity," the champagne brand has thus become the very first in its sector to take the plunge into NFTs, the digital answer to collectibles.

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Weird

When Public Statues Go Very Wrong

This giant chicken will attract tourists! Let's honor a heroine of our history with a see-through dress! And other very visible bad ideas around the world...

From Mount Rushmore to Lenin's statue at Saint Petersburg’s Finland Station, political legacies have long been carved into stone, literally. But sometimes the vanity or silliness driving such projects turns them into monumental WTFs. That was undoubtedly the case last month in the U.S. state of Georgia, where a local mayor was ousted from office after pushing through a project to build a giant chicken as a way to attract tourists to this town.

But the list of grandiose ideas that fell flat, or worse, is long: from the racy likeness of an Italian heroine to the immortalizing of a corrupt African leader who isn't even from your country.

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Society
Eva Eusterhus

Why An Iconic Pharmacy Is Turning Into A Sex Toy Museum

The "New Pharmacy" was famous throughout the St. Pauli district of Hamburg thanks to its industrious owner. Now, her daughter is transforming it into a museum dedicated to the history of sex toys, linking it with the past "curing" purpose of the shop.

The story begins in autumn 2018, when 83-year-old Regis Genger stood at the counter of her pharmacy and realized that the time had come for her to retire. At least that is the first thing her daughter Anna Genger tells us when we meet, describing the turning point that has also shaped her life and that of her business partner Bianca Müllner, who is sitting next to her at the table. Genger and Müllner are surrounded by heavy wooden drawers and antique glass vessels labelled with the Latin names of their contents, as is often found in old pharmacies.

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