Electra Street 01 Debuts

Electra Street 01 Debuts

CoverWe’re out of beta!

Last night, after the “Abu Dhabi Reads Animal Farm” event that we co-sponsored with the NYUAD Institute, we unveiled Electra Street 01, the inaugural print issue of this journal.

The first issue features articles by:

  • Yasser Alwan and Shamoon Zamir
  • Nathalie Peutz
  • Kevin Riordan and Michael Littig
  • Matthew Silverstein
  • Justin Stearns
  • Kate Stimpson
  • Ankhi Thakurta

It also contains short fiction by Jennifer Acker and Joanne P. D. Bui, and poems by Sachi Leith.

Intended for general readers interested in cutting-edge work in the arts and humanities, the journal features a design created by the NYUAD Design Collective. The issue is illustrated with art and photographs by Shakhbout Al Kaabi, Sarah Bushra, Lan Duong, Caroline Gobena, James Hunt,
Anna Ivanovna Kurkova, Justin Nestor, Kimberly Rodriguez, Rasha Shraim, Liza Tait-Bailey, and Agustina Zegers.

Bonus content is available via the page dedicated to the issue. You can also download a PDF copy of the Introduction to the issue.

Electra Street 01 is printed in the UAE by Professional Advertising and Publicatins, LLC, and is being distributed there and at NYU’s global sites. Later this summer, it will be available in a variety of e-reader and print-on-demand formats. If you’d like to have a copy of the inaugural issue, please send an inquiry to us at info@electrastreet.net.

 

 

 

Electra Street in Print

stearns.mapWe are pleased to announce that the first print issue of Electra Street will make its debut at the “Abu Dhabi Reads: Animal Farm” event that will be held at NYUAD’s Downtown Campus on April 10 at 6:30 p.m.

The first issue features articles by:

  • Yasser Alwan and Shamoon Zamir
  • Nathalie Peutz
  • Kevin Riordan and Michael Littig
  • Matthew Silverstein
  • Justin Stearns
  • Kate Stimpson
  • Ankhi Thakurta

It also contains short fiction by Jennifer Acker and Joanne P. D. Bui, and poems by Sachi Leith.

Intended for general readers interested in cutting-edge work in the arts and humanities, the journal features a design created by the NYUAD Design Collective. The issue is illustrated with art and photographs by Shakhbout Al Kaabi, Sarah Bushra, Lan Duong, Caroline Gobena, James Hunt,
Anna Ivanovna Kurkova, Justin Nestor, Kimberly Rodriguez, Rasha Shraim, Liza Tait-Bailey, and Agustina Zegers.

Electra Street 01 is being printed in the UAE and being distributed there and at NYU’s global sites and will shortly be available in a variety of e-reader and print-on-demand formats. If you’d like to have a copy of the inaugural issue, please send an inquiry to us at info@electrastreet.net.

[Image: Asya as-Sughra [Asia Minor] qabla al-Milad [before the birth of Christ] from the book Jughrafiya-i Osmani (published 1332/1914). From Justin Stearns’s article “Arab Crossroads Studies at NYU Abu Dhabi: A Regional Perspective.”]

On Writing “Las Flores del Encino”

On Writing “Las Flores del Encino”

electra--street-performing-las-flores

The conceptualization of “Las Flores del Encino” was a mix of artistic experimentation and my personal life. I was going through some hard times after a break-up and my mother recited “Si por haber estado enamorado” by Argentinian poet Francisco Ruiz Bernárdez to me. The impact was such that I still know the poem by heart and I wanted pay tribute to Bernárdez’s words.

electra-street-cristobal-and-teacherThe aesthetic choices, both in terms of harmonics and in terms of the score, came from artistic experimentation motivated by Dimitris Andrikopolous (my teacher and coach at the time). I had a limited amount of time to write the piece and I needed something simple but effective. Instead of imposing a rhythm and melody extracted by the words in the poetry, which would be the usual thing to do, I divided the poem into eight fragments and then came up with eight chords. Each chord would belong to one of the eight fragments of the poem, and the players, including the singers, would be free to choose which note of the chord to play and how to play it in each event. The conductor would freely choose when to move from event one to event two and so forth. Because there was no melody to the piece, it was important to look for something that would make the chords in each section more interesting in terms of “timbre color.” My teacher suggested that I experiment with harmonics, which produce very light, pure sounds. I followed his recommendation and included that element in the piece.

To drive the piece forward to a climax, I used dynamics and created a very basic arch that builds on a continuous crescendo to an apex and then slowly goes down to a resolution. Rather than trying to control all aspects of the piece, I provided the musicians with the necessary elements and allowed the piece to develop organically in performance.

As I reflect on it now, the piece was about letting go more than anything else. I had to let go of rhythm, harmony and melody, which are elements that I usually employ to impose my ideas into the music, and relinquish control over aspects of the piece. The piece became a lesson on how love should be treated: we can’t control its development or impose ourselves on it but must allow it to develop organically as well.

 

A recording of “Las Flores del Encino:”

 

“Las Flores del Encino” is the third piece of three-piece set titled “Three Miniatures of Love” or “Tres miniaturas de amor” in Spanish. The other two pieces will be recorded next year.

Cristóbal Martínez Yanes is a junior at NYU Abu Dhabi.

[Photos: Top: performing “Las Flores del Encino”; bottom: Cristobal and Dimitris Andrikopolous.]

PHILTERLESS PHONE PHOTOGRAPHS: CONTEST WINNERS!

PHILTERLESS PHONE PHOTOGRAPHS: CONTEST WINNERS!

In December, we challenged NYU Abu Dhabi students to use their phones for photography – without using any filters of any sort.  We had so many submissions that it was difficult to filter out three winning photographs, but filter we did and here are the results! Stay tuned for upcoming contests and remember that all submissions will be considered for possible inclusion in the first-ever print publication of student creative work, which will feature work from students at NYUAD and the GNU.

Congratulations to the winners!

Caroline Cobena, “Yorkney’s Knob, Australia”

Cobena_YorkneysKnob

 

Tom Taylor, “On Break”

Taylor_OnBreak

 

 

Agustina Zegers, untitled

Zegers 2

 

Art and Activism with Sue Coe

Art and Activism with Sue Coe

Sue Coe is an artist-activist. Her paintings are striking, haunting, and incredibly powerful. Coe sneaks into slaughterhouses, and documents the horrors she sees there through her brushstrokes. In her work, bleeding lambs collapse beneath the bold title ‘CRUEL’, their slit throats bleeding into a corporate’s open money bag. Pigs scream in agony, encased in gas chambers, collapsing on top of one another in a slew of twisted bodies. Cold machines grind hopeless living bodies into a sick concoction of limbs and parts. Coe leaves nothing to the imagination, each image imbued with a meaning that goes far beyond aesthetic beauty; her work makes a pointed statement about corporate corruption. These works force the viewer to confront their meat consumption in a very real way.

Coe grew up next to a slaughterhouse and in a recent lecture at NYU Abu Dhabi, sponsored by the NYUAD Institute and the NYUAD Film/Media program, Coe credited her career to the horrors contained within the walls of that slaughterhouse. As she speaks her words rush; she sounds as if she’s constantly on the verge of tears. Seemingly without noticing, she flits from point to point in a way that often is not entirely harmonious. It is as if the horror of her subject material has detached her from the room and its occupants, as if her connection with living beings is tainted. Every so often during the presentation she hits us with a fact that is as shocking as a physical blow: the living conditions of sheep when they are shipped from country to country, the horrific way in which pigs are gassed to death simply to save manpower and therefore money, and the heavy metal music that factory workers play in the slaughterhouses to drown out the screams of the dying animals and prevent the workers from going insane within the nightmare that is their daily existence.

Coe uses only a pencil and sketchbook, saying that anything more than that gets her too involved in the technical side of things. As long as you have a pencil and paper, she says, you can take things down – there’s an immediacy to the act. Technique is a test of sincerity in the sense that before art becomes a weapon, it has to be art. There is no content without form, even content as powerful and self-sufficient as hers. So she learned how to create the form, fast.

“[The maiming, the meat industry, the killing] goes on whether I’m there or not, “ she says, “and I prefer it if I’m there.” What is the interplay between empathy and disconnect? How does she balance her own sense of humanity with the resistance to the plight of others? Making her living from observing and documenting death, there must surely be a danger of getting too involved, a danger of succumbing to insanity, just like the subjects of her art. Coe seems to have lost faith in a lot of things already; she’s politically disillusioned, casually mentioning that “all politicians become corrupt eventually.” At one point Coe asks us whether we prioritize life or profit; and when we scoff that of course life matters more, she points out that prioritizing life over profit is exactly what the meat industry does NOT do.

Coe’s presentation encouraged the audience to consider this contradiction between disconnect and empathy that her work often embodies. On one hand, I cannot help but think of Coe as completely disengaged; she’s disengaged from the audience, as if she has a set number of words she’s trying to get through and can’t wait to be finished with her talk. She’s disengaged, too, from the galleries that purchase and exhibit her work; “they hate me,” she says casually, “but I win them awards.” She must be disengaged from the slaughtered animals she works next to; it would be otherwise impossible to stay sane in the living hell of the meat industry. On the other hand, it was empathy that initiated her career and her identity as an artist, and it is empathy that drives her work. It is by creating a sense of (sometimes painful) empathy that she hopes to facilitate social change.

Coe classes her work as “graphic journalism,” and somehow her artistic representation packs more of an emotional punch than the factuality of photojournalism. We cannot hide from the brutality of Coe’s images: pigs being gassed, machines grinding twisted bodies, endless streams of blood. And yet her images are not always precisely “true” in that they are not necessarily mimetic. The painting of lambs bleeding into corporate money bags, for instance, does not capture something that has actually happened but nevertheless captures a truth about the meat industry: its corruption and its insistence on profit at the expense of everything else.The medium of art, and its inherent ability to be fictional, digs at the viewer’s conscience in a way that photojournalism cannot. At the same time, however, because Coe does not romanticize or aestheticize her images, the work has a gritty realism that we frequently associate with reportage or journalism.

Coe’s art emerges from fact but her representations of fact are imbued with her own disillusionment, her sorrow and hopelessness in the face of capitalist greed and the impossible power of the corporation and lure of the profit motive. Coe makes it clear that she will continue fighting, despite her sense that nothing she is working towards will be achieved in her lifetime. She concluded her talk with a gut-wrenching final fact, any semblance of hope long buried within layers of this clearly evident disillusionment: “We don’t see our victories because the bad is so overwhelming.”

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