Cultureteca 21.05.17

Best-Preserved Nodosaur Goes on Display in Alberta

This week the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada unveiled what has been described as the world’s best-preserved armoured dinosaur. A newfound species of nodosaur, with thorny armour to deter predators, it would have stretched 18-feet long and weighed almost 3,000 pounds during its lifetime between 110 million and 112 million years ago, and owes its remarkable level of preservation – even fossilized remnants of its skin remain intact – to a rapid burial after being swept out by the sea. The nodosaur has undergone 7,000 hours of reconstruction work since it was discovered in 2011, and serves as the centrepiece for the new exhibition Grounds for Discovery.

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Picasso’s Femme Assise, Robe Bleu Sells for $ 45 Million

Picasso’s Femme Assise, Robe Bleu (Seated Woman in Blue Dress), a famous portrait of his lover Dora Maar which the artist painted in 1939, has been sold at auction in New York for $45 million. The portrait is one of numerous seated women painted by Picasso: last year, his Femme Assise from the summer of 1909 sold in London for $63.7 million, a record for a Cubist painting sold at auction.

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Maria Sharapova Denied Wildcard for French Open

After returning from a 15-month drugs ban, Maria Sharapova has been granted wildcards for the Women’s Stuttgart Open, the Madrid Open, and the Italian Open, but though her ranking has risen quickly to 211, it is not enough to make the cut even for the qualifying tournament at Roland Garros. And this week the French Open confirmed that it will not be offering her a wildcard for the event, which will commence in a couple of weeks.

French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said on Tuesday ‘While there can be a wild card for return from injury, there can’t be a wild card for return from doping’, adding ‘It’s my responsibility, it’s my mission, to protect the game and protect the high standards of the game’. Sharapova won the French Open in 2012 and 2014. While she won’t be in Paris this year to add to her five Grand Slam titles, her ranking is sufficient to earn a qualifying spot for Wimbledon next month.

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George RR Martin Elucidates Reports Around Game of Thrones Spinoffs

Seeking to clarify earlier reports, George RR Martin took to his blog this week to explain that he is currently working with five writers on five possible prequels to HBO’s Game of Thrones. Noting that five pilot scripts have been ordered by the network, Martin added that the prequels will not cover the time-frame of Robert Baratheon’s rebellion. The author also confirmed that he is continuing work on the sixth novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, the long-awaited The Winds of Winter.

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Arrested Development to Return for a Fifth Season

 On Wednesday Netflix confirmed that Arrested Development will return for a fifth season in 2018. Unlike the character-specific episodes of season four, the upcoming season will find the regular cast of the Bluth family properly reunited.

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Cannes Film Festival 2017

The 70th annual Cannes Film Festival got underway on Wednesday, with Pedro Almodóvar selected as the president of the main competition jury, which will also take input from Jessica Chastain, Will Smith, Fan Bingbing, Paolo Sorrentino, Maren Ade, Agnès Jaoui, Park Chan-wook, and Gabriel Yared. Monica Bellucci will host the opening and closing ceremonies, book-ending eleven days of screenings, with nineteen films competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or. A screening of Ismael’s Ghosts commenced the festival, starring Mathieu Amalric and Marion Cotillard, and directed by Arnaud Desplechin.

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Deputy Attorney General Appoints Special Counsel to Investigate Trump/Russia

As Donald Trump continues to contradict the rest of the White House while implicating himself amid the furore over the firing of James Comey and the ongoing Russia investigation, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein on Wednesday decided to appoint Robert Mueller – FBI Director between 2001 and 2013 – as special counsel. Different from the independent counsels of old in so far as the special counsel will remain answerable to the deputy attorney general, the appointment still gives Mueller significant autonomy to run his investigation.

He will be authorised to investigate ‘any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump’, as well as other matters which ‘may arise directly from the investigation’, and he is empowered to request additional resources and even press criminal charges. Rosenstein’s move apparently took the White House by surprise, with Trump tweeting that the ordeal represents ‘the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history’.

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Weekly Ferry Connects Russia and North Korea in the Name of Chinese Tourism

Despite mounting international pressure as North Korea continues its ballistic missile tests, on Thursday a regular ferry service docked for the first time in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, connecting Russia’s far east with the North Korean port of Rajin in Rason.

The Man Gyong Bong ferry, which previously carried passengers and cargo between North Korea and Japan, is owned by the Russian company InvestStroyTrest, which says it is pitching its service at Chinese tourists. Vladivostok – whose name means ‘ruler of the East’ – remains popular among the Chinese, who continue to refer to the city by its old name of Haishenwai, ‘sea cucumber bay’ or less idiomatically ‘small seaside village’. The ferry boasts forty cabins, a restaurant, two bars, a karaoke club, and sauna facilities, and will run weekly, the overnight journey taking nine hours.

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Dana Lixenberg Wins Deutsche Börse Photography Prize

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, established in 1996 and offering £30,000 to the winner, is one of the biggest photography awards in Europe. At a ceremony in London on Thursday evening the twentieth iteration of the prize went to the Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg for her publication Imperial Courts, the product of a twenty-two year engagement with the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts, Los Angeles.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Untitled Becomes Most Expensive Painting Sold by an American Artist

On Thursday night Jean-Michel Basquiat’s 1982 painting Untitled sold for $110.5 million at auction, a record sum for a work produced by an American artist. The painting has been in private hands since 1984, but its new owner, the Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa, says he wants to loan the piece to institutions and exhibitions around the world.

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New Yorkshire Museum Exhibition Shows the Vikings in Virtual Reality

In collaboration with the British Museum and drawing on groundbreaking research by archaeologists from the universities of York and Sheffield, a new exhibition, Viking: Rediscover the Legend, opened at the Yorkshire Museum on Friday. The exhibition brings together for the first time the Anglo-Saxon and Viking collections of the British Museum and Yorkshire Museum, and allows visitors to explore via innovative virtual reality helmets the realities of Viking life based on research carried out on the river Trent at Torksey, Lincolnshire.

According to Professor Dawn Hadley, a co-director of the project, the work carried out at the site – which dates from the winter of 872-3 – suggests that the Viking armies were much bigger than previously considered. She said ‘Our work at Torksey has revealed a camp 55 hectares in area, the size of some 75 football pitches. This reflects an army which, along with women, children, and crafts workers and traders, must have been several thousand strong, larger than most towns of the period’.

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Foam x African Artists’ Foundation

In collaboration with the African Artists’ Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Nigeria and dedicated to the promotion and development of contemporary African art, three young photographers from Kenya and Nigeria this week opened an exhibition of their work at Foam. The artists are Mũchiri Njenga (born 1985), Osborne Macharia (1986), and Kadara Enyeasi (1994), and their work – which covers short films, portraits, and collages – will show at Foam 3h until 27 August.

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Rouhani Wins Second Term in Iranian Presidential Elections

Iran held presidential elections on Friday, with the incumbent and moderate Hassan Rouhani winning re-election for a second term. With a high turnout of 73.07%, Rouhani received 23.5 million votes, while his closest rival, the conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi, managed just 15.7 million.

The campaign was marked by fierce conservative criticism of Rouhani, who supports the nuclear deal reached in 2015 and has sought to improve his country’s diplomatic relations. Despite the easing of international sanctions, unemployment in Iran remains high, and Rouhani has struggled to implement social reforms in the face of a conservative Principlist Guardian Council, and an Islamic Consultative Assembly and Assembly of Experts which remained conservative until elections last year.

The result of Friday’s presidential election is especially important given the age and recent health issues of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s 78-year-old Supreme Leader, who retains the final say on everything from economic and military matters to the transparency of elections and the running of state television. Khamenei hailed the turnout via Twitter as showing the ‘increasing progress of the Iranian nation’.

Rouhani meanwhile responded to his victory saying, ‘With more than 41 million of your votes, you have pulled out the history of our country away from inertia and doubt’, adding ‘The Iranian nation has chosen the path of interaction with the world, a path which is distant from extremism and violence. The election is now over. I am the president of the nation and need assistance from every single Iranian, even those who oppose me and my policies’.

Rouhani was re-elected for a second term. According to results announced by the Interior Ministry, Rouhani received 23.5 of 41 million votes counted. Ali Asghar Ahmadi, head of the election committee, was Saturday’s announcer on state TV. Rouhani’s closest rival, Ebrahim Raisi, received 15.7 million votesIran elections (19 May)

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Piero Pizzi Cannella at the Hermitage

An exhibition showing thirty paintings from across the career of the Italian artist Piero Pizzi Cannella opened on Saturday at the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. Working in mixed media, Cannella’s abstract compositions often conjure ghostly cities and old maps. The exhibition will include a series of paintings entitled Salon de musique, inspired by some of the chandeliers hanging in the Hermitage.

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Jumana Emil Abboud and Roger Metto at Bildmuseet

Two new exhibitions opened at Bildmuseet in Umeå over the weekend. Jumana Emil Abboud, a Jerusalem-based artist, presents delicate paintings, poetic cinematography, and oral performances inspired by Palestinian folklore, in an exhibit entitled The Horse, the Bird, the Tree and the Stone. And with Cryosphere the Swedish painter Roger Metto showcases some of his abstract landscapes, most of them completed in 2017. Both exhibitions will run until 17 September.

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Eighty-Two Chibok Girls Reunite with Their Families

The eighty-two ‘Chibok girls’ released two weeks ago in an exchange with Boko Haram militants were on Saturday finally reunited with their families in Nigeria. More than 100 of the 276 originally taken from the town of Chibok are still being held by the group.

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Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends at MoMA

Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends opened on Sunday at MoMA, the first 21st-century retrospective of the multidisciplinary artist, whose early works prefigured pop art and featured Combines which bound apparently mundane objects with the painted canvas. Among Friends will comprise more than 250 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, and sound and video recordings, and will show Rauschenberg in conversation with fellow artists including John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Sari Dienes, Jasper Johns, Billy Klüver, Yvonne Rainer, Paul Taylor, David Tudor, Cy Twombly, and Susan Weil. The retrospective will run until 17 September.

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No Change at the Top as the European Football Season Draws to a Close

The final weekend of football across many of Europe’s biggest leagues brought precious few surprises. In England, with the Premier League title and relegation places already confirmed, Arsenal beat Everton 3-1 despite an early red card for Laurent Koscielny, but comfortable victories for Manchester City and Liverpool kept the Gunners outside of the top four and next season’s Champions League. In Spain Real Madrid’s relatively straightforward 0-2 win away at Málaga clinched their first La Liga title since 2012. And in France Monaco had already ousted Paris Saint-Germain to capture the Ligue 1 crown, but their 3-2 result over Rennes allowed them to finish the season with a record twelfth consecutive victory.

In Italy Juventus secured a sixth successive Serie A title with a game to spare after a 3-0 win over Crotone – despite the Turin giants having lost 3-1 to title challengers Roma last week. With a domestic league and cup double in the bag, Juventus can look to complete a historic treble come the final of the Champions League. And a note too for Celtic in Scotland, who are strong favourites to achieve a domestic treble after completing an unbeaten season in the Scottish Premiership.

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Svitolina and Zverev Triumph at the Italian Open

The Italian Open, one of the grandest clay court tournaments in the tennis calendar, reached its conclusion over the weekend. Despite losing the first set, Elina Svitolina eventually triumphed 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 over Simona Halep in the final of the women’s Premier 5 event. And the men’s Masters 1000 final saw Alexander Zverev overcome Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3.

Zverev – at just 20 years old – became in the process the youngest Masters event champion since Djokovic himself won the Miami Open way back in 2007. After the final, Djokovic announced that he will work with Andre Agassi for the duration of the French Open, on a provisional basis after the Serb parted with his longtime coaching team earlier in May.