Simple, elegant, and with wonderfully curated color. What more could we ask for?
Martiros Saryan (1880-1972) was an Armenian painter regarded for his masterful selection and use of color. Inspired by the likes of Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse and Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin, Saryan captured a sentimental slice of Armenian life in his minimal landscapes, meticulous still lifes, and bold, honest portraiture.
Saryan studied at the Moscow School of Arts and traveled throughout the neighboring region before returning to live in Armenia in 1921. After spending the second half of the 1920s in Paris, Saryan returned to the Soviet Union, tragically losing most of his work from that period at the fault of a fire on board his homeward bound vessel.
With the election season finally behind us — and Mitt Romney thankfully defeated — we can’t help but find ourselves left with a certain white, multimillion-dollar, Mormon-shaped hole in our lives. Looking back with fondness at all the gaffs, the absurdities, and the warmly nihilistic compulsion for straight faced lying, there’s quite a lot to reflect on with the Romney campaign.
Mormonism, a little-known offshoot of Zoroastrianism, has become, perhaps, the only major religion that can be called truly American. So, with a newfound fascination unencumbered by political dread, we embark on a journey to the Mormon homeworld to learn more. To get there, we sat down with Dr. Ammon Allred, a professor of philosophy who also happens to have grown up Mormon, and ask him to tell us what he knows about Kolob, a gated resort community tucked away in the night sky where, rumor has it, god built his gilded estate.
Dr. Ammon Allred:
So far as I know, the only way to get to Kolob if you don’t have a temple recommend (ask a Mormon friend) is to go to Tulum, on the Yucatecan coast. It was here, after all, that Cortez (I think it was) first alit in North America, and declared: “This is the place.” What you do is you ascend the Temple of The Descending God, tap on the back wall and ask for Lamoni.
Important: This only works on April 6.
Anyway, if you do this right what will happen is that you’ll see the light shift as though there’s a heat wave. It looks a lot like a scene from Zelda to be honest. (This is actually where they got the idea for Zelda). And before you know it, you will have hied to Kolob.
Actually, you won’t be in Kolob because Kolob is a star, dumbass. You’ll be on Planet Kolob-6, as we affectionately call it. (It’s official name is also Kolob 6 but without the affectionate inflection). For my people it’s a home away from home.
My actual home was Utah, and I was always surprised that folks would travel there from all around the world. “I mean, it’s a nice enough place,” I’d tell anyone who told me they wanted to visit, “but watch out for the people.” Kolob, though: that’s another story.
Here are some misconceptions that people have about Kolob 6:
1) There are no Thetans on Kolob-6. Thetans are not real. Duh.
2) You are expected to bring your own sunscreen when visiting Kolob-6.
3) Kolob 6 is not the dwelling place of God. It’s more like His vacation home.
In fact, last time I was there, you could hardly see His mansion, because Mittens had just bought some primo real estate right next to God’s — right on the sapphire encrusted beach (whose cliffs sparkle like Marie Osmond’s eyes). Anyway, wouldn’t you know it, he starts complaining about the size of the mansion allotted to him and before you know it there’s such a ruckus from all the work he’s getting done, it’s all you can do to hear your own harp playing.
I never did learn for sure, but rumor is that God couldn’t handle the noise and hied himself to some other nameless star so he could get some peace and quiet. Mitt’s youngest son, Trink, then moved into God’s old place and turned it into Kolob-6’s most exclusive club for Bronies. (Even though Bronies are actually native to Kolob-2).
One night, after I’d done too many Jello-shots up the nose, I threw up all over Gladys Knight’s pet iguana. And that’s how I got ejected from Kolob.
Maybe if you’re lucky after you die you’ll be baptized and then you can visit Kolob. But I’d really urge you to try and visit during this life.
It really is a beautiful place. Just watch out for the Thetans.
We had the chance to catch producers Javier Bardem and Lilly Hartley, along with director Alvaro Longoria and Kerry Kennedy from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights present their compelling new documentary, Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony this week at the IFC Center.
The film elucidates the negligence and brutality suffered by the Sahrawi people of the Western Sahara following in the wake of Spanish decolonization. The ongoing conflict resulting from Morocco’s annexation of the Western Sahara by purportedly nonviolent occupation has resulted in a humanitarian crisis for the Sahrawi living in both the occupied territory and as exiled refugees. After participating in a film festival benefiting a Sahrawi refugee camp, actor Javier Bardem took up the cause of petitioning for UN aid and recognition from the Spanish government to persuade Morocco to enact a democratic referendum determining the status of the region.
What we found most interesting was the documentary’s nuanced exploration of several intersecting layers in the complicated geopolitical milieu of northern Africa: the endurance of diverse cultural identities, the colonial partitioning of the African continent by Europe, the eventual withdrawal of European colonial power, and the bifurcation of alliances which persist even after the end of the Cold War.
Sign the petition to help Bardem & co. encourage political leaders to demand a human rights mandate for the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Western Sahara.
The Brazilian national flag is striking in its contrasts: the colorful, orderly geometry centered against a constellational smattering of stars, the straightforward sans-serif typography against its subtle contoured encasing, suggestive of a sphere.
It’s impossible to escape the elegance of the Brazilian flag. Even Wikipedia’s cut and dried caption takes on the aesthetic quality of a Haiku:
A blue disc depicting a starry sky spanned by a curved band inscribed with the national motto, within a yellow rhombus, on a green field.
The composition of stars immortalizes the night sky as seen from Rio on November 15, 1889, when the flag was first adopted. We think it’s one of the best uses of stars in flag design, with the former USSR coming in at a close second, both of which overshadow the current US flag, with its garish militaristic arrangement.
For a more thorough, technical explanation of the dimensions and assembly of this flag consult the official government style guide.
Relentlessly cool, brazenly domineering, the heroism of unapologetic masculinity found a renaissance in the West during the Cold War years. America reveled in cunning, heavily-armed heroes who could thwart those Commie baddies, keep their wits against the seductive wiles of a buxom double-agent, and champion the American Way. So, with the influx of Western pop culture during the Soviet collapse—including campy ’80s American action movies and James Bond spy thrillers—a uniquely comparative and critical space opened up in Russia, as much for art as for entertainment.
Captain Pronin, a short-lived series from the early ’90s created by cartoonist Mikhail Zaytsev, explores this space through riotous satirization of Western action hero culture. The übermacho Captain Pronin (rivaling even Russia’s most darling alpa male all-rounder, Putin) is imagined as the grandson of the fictional Soviet hero Major Pronin. His adventures are full of screwball absurdity and ironic takedowns of misaligned pop culture tropes. With its reflexive outlandishness and poorly translated subtitles, Pronin easily captures the spirit of the era immediately following the Cold War and at the same time wouldn’t seem all that out of place in an Adult Swim line-up.
We find the aesthetic of Zaytsev’s work fascinating, with a playfully amateurish style and an attention to detail that illuminates the complex relationship of cultural differences and similarities between Russia and the West.
“Day and night, for you and me, his unseen fight keeps us free!”