What do skateboards and Apple watches have in common? The current exhibition at London’s Design Museum California: Designing Freedom has the answer: they were all conceived in the sunny West Coast state. Yet the show goes beyond merely collecting products linked by proximity, instead it begs the question: did the radical free-wheeling lefties of the 1960s spawn the Silicon Valley start-ups of today? Told through some 300 items from film footage to music, prints, pamphlets, posters and products the exhibition ekes out a narrative that ignores the boxy modernist houses and playful space-age inspired Google architecture for which California is already known. Although the moustachioed long-hairs rocking out at Altamont or erecting a geodesic dome in which to communally subsist in a desert weren’t the same fastidious kids cooped up with their computers, there’s a sense of chaos and an anti-establishment feeling that touches both. The exhibition runs until 15 October; the question of how radical Silicon Valley is will likely linger.
Nick Broomfield is a documentary-maker who’s pursued the truth down streets from Haditha to Hollywood in his trademark white T-shirt, wielding that famous boom mic. While Broomfield’s rich, self-referential style has been taken up by the likes of Jon Ronson and Louis Theroux and the equipment’s become smaller, his desire to chase a story is undimmed. The life and legacy of Whitney Houston is Broomfield’s latest quarry in Whitney: Can I Be Me, in which he asks friends, family and Houston’s champion (of sorts) Clive Davis of Arista Records “What went wrong when it looked so right?” While the film’s a little unevenly stacked in the “drugs are bad” direction, footage of the star at her best is uplifting and this is the film to launch a million freshly compiled playlists. It seems success is fine; it’s the fame that kills you.
During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 thousands of writers battling with pen and sword against fascism were forced to flee the country. Some remained in the limelight from abroad but most were forgotten until this week when a team of 102 academics from the Study Group of Literature in Exile completed The Biobibliographical Dictionary. The four-volume work revives the lost biographies and careers of 1,191 exiled Spanish writers and journalists, such as Victoria Kent and Pedro Garfias. The opus took 20 years to complete and was presented to the government of Seville, where the book’s independent publisher Editorial Renacimiento is based. The next step, says lead academic Manuel Aznar Soler, is recuperating the lost works themselves and getting them back into print.
A museum dedicated to one of Finland’s best soft-power assets opens today in the city of Tampere. Found in Tampere Hall, the largest congress and concert centre in Finland, the new Moomin Museum designed by architect Taina Väisänen showcases more than 1,000 illustrations by Moomin author and illustrator, the late Tove Jansson, as well as models and figurines of the characters created by Jansson’s partner, graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä. It also encompasses a library stocked with the entire Moomin series in more than 20 translations. The newly opened museum is the only one in the world that’s devoted to the quirky creatures who were born out of the rubble of the Second World War.
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