“Nanook of the North was not initially intended as a documentary, a genre which had not even been defined at the time of the film’s production. As Flaherty’s widow Frances affirms in the interview featured on this disc, the film was made with an eye for commercial distribution and exhibition, and for audiences accustomed to narrative fiction films. Flaherty was not an ethnographer, but he was building his story out of the materials of real life. In this he was blazing cinematic trails, and even though the tenets of anthropological filmmaking were not nearly in place, it is remarkable how much he still managed to get right. Initiating a practice that would later become fundamental ethnographic etiquette, Flaherty developed each day’s footage and screened it for the participants, who were encouraged to make suggestions. Since the Inuit were the authorities on their own lives, many of these suggestions were incorporated into the film. Consistent with this substantial artistic collaboration, and contrary to a narrative and stylistic impulse that would prevail elsewhere for many more years, Flaherty does not intrude on his subject. He is not the star of his film, and though his effaced presence causes a few unsightly wrinkles (contrivances—like Nanook’s biting of the phonograph record—are presented as actual and natural), for the most part it means that the credit for the film’s feats of courage and grace goes precisely where it belongs: to the Inuit.” – Dean W. Duncan, Nanook of the North
Words by Leah Thomas
“Throughout my studies, I became startled by the facts that it was indeed harder for black, brown, and low-income communities to have access to clean air, water, and natural spaces. Even worse, minority and low-income communities were statistically more likely to live in neighborhoods exposed to toxic waste, landfills, highways, and other environmental hazards. As my textbooks encouraged me to protect public lands so they could be preserved and enjoyed, I couldn’t help but wonder, “for whom?”
I wanted to protect the natural environment, but I also wanted to protect vulnerable communities like mine back home. I wasn’t able to separate my identity from my environmentalism and this is when I discovered environmental justice. Environmental justice is the intersection of both social justice and environmentalism, where the inequity in environmental degradation is also considered. With the outrage from The Flint Water Crisis, The Environmental Protection Agency has included environmental justice and advocating for overburdened communities to their 2020 goals.”
Bashford Dean in 1900 wearing Japanese armor; the Japanese Edo period armor now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)
“The museums of New York City sprung out of wealth and curiosity, but few of their turn-of-the-century boosters were quite so eccentric or prolific as Bashford Dean. The expert in both fish and armor — and armored fish — was the major proponent and collector behind the Arms and Armor Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
To celebrate both the centennial of the department and its adventurous founder, the museum opened Bashford Dean and the Creation of the Arms and Armor Department in 2012. It was originally only planned to go until last fall but has been extended through this year, and it’s worth stopping by the small show tucked in a gallery just outside the main armament displays. Not that any one artifact is going to compete with any on permanent display, except the character that was Bashford Dean.
Dean started collecting armor as a child, but his first academic love was fishes. At Columbia University he studied both paleontology and zoology, especially intrigued by those ancient fishes with flesh that seemed born for battle. He soon became a professor at the university and started to travel, and while that would be achievement enough he branched out into a full obsession with Japan, especially its military history. Soon he had the most impressive Japanese armor collection outside of Asia, and this transitioned into an extensive delve into the whole history of military protection that entailed the building of a whole display hall at his home of Wave Hill. Eventually in 1912 he became the first curator of arms and armor at the Metropolitan Museum, in addition to already being a curator of fishes at the American Museum of Natural History. He’s still the only person to have held curatorial positions at both places simultaneously.”
Read the full article here.
“Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has declared a state of emergency after 20,000 tonnes of diesel oil leaked into a river within the Arctic Circle.
The spill happened when a fuel tank at a power plant near the Siberian city of Norilsk collapsed last Friday.
The power plant’s director Vyacheslav Starostin has been taken into custody until 31 July, but not yet charged.
The plant is owned by a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel, which is the world’s leading nickel and palladium producer.
The Russian Investigative Committee (SK) has launched a criminal case over the pollution and alleged negligence, as there was reportedly a two-day delay in informing the Moscow authorities about the spill.
Ground subsidence beneath the fuel storage tanks is believed to have caused the spill. Arctic permafrost has been melting in exceptionally warm weather for this time of year.
President Putin expressed anger after discovering officials only learnt about the incident on Sunday.” – BBC, Read the full article here.
“Stand up for each other. That also means rejecting scapegoating and fearmongering.”
“There is nobody in the world who is excused from feeling some sort of fear or uncertainty with regards to COVID-19. Don’t add to that terrible feeling that we are all feeling by making other people feel unwelcome, uncared for, scapegoated.”
REPORT DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT WITH https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/index.page
“Set in the snow-capped Urals, this multi-genre anthology reveals the lives and traditions of Russia’s indigenous Mari people through stories of 23 women.
The Mari, a Finno-Ugric people that live along the northern bank of the river Volga, are considered to be Europe’s last pagans. Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari, the award-winning ethnofiction film by director Aleksei Fedorchenko, paints a beguiling picture of a culture driven by the ritualistic appreciation of female beauty. The script, written by Denis Osokin, is divided into 23 novellas, each focused on a woman whose name starts with the letter “O”. Through these short chapters, each different in terms of tone and visuals, Fedorchenko creates a vivid portrait of the diversity of Mari people and the idiosyncrasies of their culture.
Shot in their native language, the film features local Mari people as actors. However, the film is by no means an anthropological study, as fantasy and witchery interweave with local traditions in a colourful interplay between magic and reality. Described as a “Mari Decameron”, Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari is a captivating example of a local female reality that transcends language barriers and cultural borders, and proves to be universally relatable.”
Text: Maria Muzdybaeva