Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Demystifying nudity in art

The nude in art has been a consistent theme throughout the history of fine art and has remained a critical focal point of Western Art since the Renaissance or ‘the rebirth’.

Be it sacred art or the art of portraiture, the unclothed human figure has always captivated mankind and has been one of the lasting subjects of interest in art.

It is a daunting task sometimes to lead a tour in a gallery or museum and help visitors intelligently understand and appreciate art. However, nudity can be discussed in terms of the reasons artists choose to portray the human body without clothing.

To begin with, the human body is beautiful and that makes it a perfect subject of art. It contains variations of all geometric shapes such as the cone and cylinder making it the best focus in exploring art concepts and forms.

The human body is also extremely communicative and therefore can be used to explain a variety of emotions which the viewer can understand. 
Because of people’s familiarity with the nude form, artists can use this form to symbolize and express human values and norms for example a nursing mother or a pregnant woman.

The human form is part of the commonality that binds humanity together and is familiar to all people regardless of upbringing, education, gender, customs or ancestral identity.

Morden attitudes to nude art are varied, not only in style but also in the meanings that the art attempts to express. 

In ancient Greece, though mythological stories tell of powerful women, the nude male figure was the focus of art for many years.

Society was based around men since women were subservient and primarily home-bound. The Greek were the first people to determine how to practically depict and still ‘perfect’ the human body in art, giving it skilfully balanced organs, a well-shaped physic and perfect outlines.

The Greek society accepted nudity because their athletes practiced and competed in the nude to show their perfect natural form. 

Even though some cultures saw nudity as being equated to submissiveness, disgrace and downfall, the Greek took this image and glorified it; the male nude became the center of splendour and approval.

Even in Africa today, artists are incorporating nudity in their art. In Zimbabwe, there are a few nude pieces made by artists including Rebirth by Misheck Masamvu which depicts a female figure whose upper torso is exposed whilst the head and lower trunk are covered.

Rebirth by Misheck Masamvu 

Closer home in South Africa, there are a couple of artists who do nude art. Largely, the nudes they do are a female from, expressing the life and sensuality of women.

South Africa’s Amanda Adams seems to be fascinated by the female rear end as in two of her oil paintings, Second Skin and Sunbather; she depicts a woman’s exposed derriere.

There are also various South African paintings and sculptures of standing or sitting nude characters including Waiting by Harriet Jameson Pellizzari, a watercolour painting depicting a semi-nude woman saddened by her thoughts and impatience whilst she waits for someone (presumably a man).

Karl Lilje’s Le Luxe Du Temps (The Luxury of Time), is an interesting mixed media art piece with a nude raven haired young woman sitting haughtily on what looks like a throne with flowers at her feet.

The key reason why people are fascinated with nude art may be found in the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve where it is said that nudity was an inherent element of the enjoyment of Paradise prior to the Fall.

The portrayal of the nude in fine art then can be viewed as part of the redemptive attempt of mankind to salvage his virtue and return to the presence of God and take pleasure from the status of purity that Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.

The nude in art reminds one that in being human, he is also an animal, imperfect and separated from God. It reminds one that he is in a continuum, that his naked body is somehow superior or inferior to that of the nude upon which he looks and also somehow enhanced or poorer than the naked bodies of all those with whom he shares the world.

It reminds one that he criticizes his body because others are constantly comparing it too and that in turn, he criticizes and compares the bodies of others.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My day at work (Oh well, part of it)

Well, being an “artsy-tech” person (meaning I love arts and technology so much), the idea of attending the ‘AMH Conversations’ event did not seem really appealing to me especially when I knew it had something to do with Finance, business and  or the economy.

As part of my job though, I had to be there, doing the live tweeting and everything a person who works in the company’s ‘Online Office’ has to do.

I had to be at the Celebration Centre by 730 am, so we could start at 8 am. When my alarm went off at 530, I groaned...Daaamn; I did not want to wake up. But I had to, or I was going to be late.

On my way to the ‘Centre’, I envisaged a room full of serious men in dark business suits having serious talks and throwing in words like GDP, Economic Boom, Fiscal Deficit, Syndicated loans and all the other words I learnt from my Reuters Financial Reporting course. I groaned again.

I told myself I was going to stick out in the whole serious looking crowd (had tried to put on some formal wear there, black through-out, to blend in).

Stepping into the lobby, I saw people by the balcony, sipping their teas, waiting for the event to start. I skipped the tea part (even though I so love coffee and would have grabbed a cup to jerk me out of my semi-trance) and went straight into the auditorium.

People trickled into the room and in less than 40 minutes, it was full (yes, with dark-suited people) but not as intimidating and serious as I had feared.

ZIFm Stereo’s Supa Mandiwanzira was the moderator, and I say he really knows how to break the ice, with witty banter.

Minutes into the event, I realised it was not that bad, infact it was interesting (I had feared I was going to doze in the event).

Charles Robertson’s (lead author of The Fastest Billion) presentation caught everybody’s attention and the examples he gave were those I could relate to. Big words were probably thrown around there, but I totally understood it all.

Summing it all, in layman’s terms, he was saying Africa has so much potential for growth and that governments had to make their countries investor friendly etc…

Questions were asked and responses were given and the hour went by, I would say, rather too quickly. I wanted the event to go on and on now, but hey the whole idea was to KISS (KeepItShotandSimple).

Monday, 11 March 2013

My letter from Miss Gaddafi

I just laughed when I opened my Gmail spam box to find a message from ‘Aisha Gaddafi’. Now I am not going to say a lot in this post, I am just going to let Miss Gaddafi do the talking.

Good Day,

Am Aisha  Gaddafi  daughter  of late Colonel Gaddafi the Libyan leader. I am contacting you to assist me in removing the sum of sixty five million USA dollars being deposited with a security company in UAE Dubai.

The funds was deposited with a security company in my name and as a matter of fact me, my only son and the entire family of my father in-law were trapped in a bunker here in Tripoli I manage to sneak out with my son with the help of a security guard on duty that faithful day, i manage to crossed the border and I am presently into hiding in Senegal without any other means of communication unless my laptop hoping to arrange for my traveling out possible to Europe to safe guard my life because I know that the regime of my father in-law has collapse after his death Please for your kind assistance I will offer you 30% of the total sum, all the legal documentation concerning the deposit are with me, I will only write power of attorney making you the new beneficiary of the deposit so that the security company can release the consignment to you.

Bear in mind that the funds was deposited with the security firm as household effect, therefore they do not know the real content, so you are going to collect the consignment as house effect from the security company whereas only you and me know the real content.

Once you successfully collect the consignment from the security company you will send me with some money so that I can arrange for my traveling where we can meet ourselves for disbursement.

May Allah grant you the heart to assist me and my only son in this our trial period, please never you abandon me with my son just because we are Arabs, but I want to assure you that I am of a clean heart that was brought up under western

Get back with your details so that we can proceed without delay because l am here without help from no one. I look forward hearing from you.

Best Regards,
Aisha Gaddafi

Fraudsters pleeeease, do I look that dull, huh, huh , huh?

And then we are all Keeking!!

In the past couple of days, my twitter TL has been ablaze with tweets about Keek and it seemed like everyone was in some kind of frenzy over this.

Not to be left behind, I decided to jump onto the Keek band wagon. I signed up but did not put up anything yet. I had to observe how it was all going down.

Watching some ‘Keeks’, scales fell off my eyes. The person some represented on Twitter was the opposite of who they were on Keek (some avis really lie).

Some Keeks were downright amusing though; I would play them over and over again; bursting into laughter and everyone in the office giving me surprised looks like   'I love it when they call me big poppa'  , 'For those people telling me to go to sleep...liff me eeeeelone', ANNOUNCEMENT:CHIZIVISO, Introducing, the "Gorilla Dance" to name just a few.

Some Keekers had really nice voices, which Twitter sadly did not bring to light, some seemed to have warmer personalities than the ones they portrayed on Twitter (Or is it clever play- acting for the camera?)

“So what really is this Keek and how different is it from the other social media platforms?” That is the question I asked myself.

Google and Techy guys I talked  did not disappoint with the answers and here is what I got from my ‘research’:

Keek, founded by Isaac Raichyk, is a free online social networking service that enables users to upload video status updates, which are called "keeks".

The word "Keek" comes from Middle English and means a look, especially a quick one.

Keek Inc. which is based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and has around 30 employees launched in early 2011 to "create a social network that was more authentic and personal.”

Keek has been described as "the Twitter for video", "Instagram of video" and a "micro version of YouTube".
The Keek BlackBerry app is compatible with BlackBerry 10 smartphones whilst the Keek Android app is compatible with various Android devices including smartphones and tablets.

The current version of the Keek iPhone app is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch running iOS 4.3 or later.

I am yet to upload my own Keek yet, I am still having loads of fun watching yours!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

How much do artists benefit from HIFA?

There have been concerns over the criteria used to select artists who perform during the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) and how these artists would then benefit from the whole festival.

These concerns were raised by journalists during the second HIFA press Conference held on Tuesday, March 05, 2013 at Rainbow Towers, Harare.

“What criteria are you using to select these artists, as we have seen that there have been recycling of artists who perform during HIFA whilst some artists fail to make it in?” asked Anthony Mutambira, a film-maker.

Responding to this question, Tafadzwa Simba, HIFA’s Head of Media and Community Liaison said that they chose artists who presented good quality art work and who were professional.

“Some artists are even recommended to perform again at HIFA by their peers”, said Simba.

Another journalist went on to state that even though it was apparent that HIFA and its supporters benefited from the festival, it was not really clear how artists benefitted from the festival.

Responding to this, Executive Director of HIFA, Maria Wilson said HIFA was not an agent for artists but a platform for them to showcase their talent.

“We give artists a platform to showcase their talent without paying anything,” said Wilson.

“This is a festival where we gorge ourselves with good things…it is not always about money.”

HIFA 2013 which runs under the theme What’s Next… kicks off on the 30th of April and will run till the 5th of May 2013.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Clippings.me goes mobile

Clippings.me, the world's largest journalism portfolio site, with writers from Wall Street Journal, BBC, Financial Times, Huffington Post, La Stampa and more has launched a major upgrade to make all writers’ profiles look as great on mobile as they do everywhere else.


This makes the site the first journalism portfolio service to offer a full mobile experience for users and visitors, with beautiful full-width images and a design optimized for smaller devices.

In his mail, Clippings.me founder Nicholas Holmes said they had added minor tweaks to profiles including a new option to upload an image of oneself and clearer fonts throughout the site.

“We need your help in deciding what should go into our forthcoming clippings.me PRO package, which will be available for a low monthly fee.” read part of the mail.

“Simply click one of the options below to tell us what you'd consider buying from clippings.me - and as a reward, there's a fantastic guide to social media branding for journalists waiting on the next page.”

Miriam Makeba's birthday commemorated in Google doodle

Google celebrates the 81st birthday of Grammy Award-winning South African singer and civil rights activist Miriam 'Mama Africa' Makeba with a Google Doodle.

Born Zenzile Miriam Makeba in Johannesburg on 4 March 1932, she was the first South African artist to popularize African music in the U.S. and around the world and is the first African to be honoured with her own Google doodle.

In 1963 she testified about apartheid before the United Nations, as a result the South African government revoked her citizenship and right of return.

She stayed in the U.S. , marrying Stokely Carmichael, a Black Panther leader.

She is best known for the song "Pata Pata", first recorded in 1957 and released in the U.S. in 1967.

Makeba returned to world fame when she performed with Paul Simon on the Graceland tour. Finally in the late 1980's she returned to her homeland as a free South African.

She died of a heart attack on November9, 2008 after performing in a concert in Italy.

The Google Doodle is an artistic version of the Google logo and represents events like holidays and anniversaries.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Culture Shift: Marrying cultural and digital communities

The British Council Zimbabwe,  in collaboration with I-Way Africa, Jump Start Zimbabwe, and Alliance Francaise have come up with Culture Shift, a program of events seeking to come up with ‘solutions’ for Zimbabwe’s creative sector.

The events, which kick off at Alliance Francaise, with two days of idea generation from the 21st to the 22nd of February 2013, will bring together talented techies, passionate about art, culture and creativity as well as talented artists and cultural professionals or organizations who are interested in digital technology and what it can do for the growth of the sector.

The Ideation would be followed by the Culture Shift Hack from March 5 to 7, 2013 with those whose ideas the judges saw to be worthy of investment being invited and standing a chance to secure a contract worth $3,500 to develop the prototype further.

Kudzayi Ngwerume, British Council’s Arts Manager said this was the first technology  challenge in Zimbabwe to focus entirely on finding solutions for the Creative Economy. 
She went on to point out that the relationship between arts and technology in Zimbabwe has largely been unexplored.
“There is a synergy between innovation and creativity. If you look at companies like Apple, Samsung etc- you have a combination of your programmer/developer and your creative person. Hopefully by running this program we can start to initiate the possibility of this kind of collaboration.”
Also expected to be in attendance are the key stakeholders from the Ministries of SMEs and Education, Sports, Arts and Culture and the private sector to help shed light on topics such as: Start-up financing options, the creative economy in Zimbabwe, IT now and the near future  and fundable ideas.