Gaudete

Gaudete Sunday is the third Sunday in advent and the time when the reflections on sin, longing and exile are replaced by a moment of hope. It’s symbolised by a change from deep purple vestments to pink in the Catholic Church, and is a moment of excitement for all children who know that Christmas itself isn’t far off now.

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Pink is a colour that for centuries in the West was a “male” one, being viewed as a faded version of martial red, but in the early 20th century it changed and baceme associated with women. The Museum at FIT have a show exploring how this colour can be powerful, punk and provocative as well as pretty and I’m sorry I won’t have a chance to see it before it closes on January 5th. If you’re back in the area, do see it – their 2016 shows on uniformity and on Proust’s muse are two of the most thought provoking shows I’ve seen.

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The food of both depends on memory

“Jewish food and black food crisscross each other through history. They are both cuisines where homeland and exile interplay. Ideas and emotions are ingredients – satire, irony, longing, resistance – and you have to eat that food to extract the memories. The food of both diasporas depends on memory….I love that almost the entirety of the Jewish population will sit down for a Seder and discuss and debate the ancient lessons of slavery versus freedom while using an edible Torah to process these lessons in their body – through all the sense available to the eater.

Passover is, thus, my favourite meal. Why not? I am the descendant of enslaved people. I take it personally.”

Michael Twitty, writing in his examination of black Southern cooking, genetic and cultural identities and the enslaved history through food, The Cooking Gene. Here he reflects on how food can be more than just an experience of appetite.

Meera Sethi

Foreign Returned is a term used to describe Indian expats who’ve returned to India. Artist Meera Sethi created a series of portraits drawing on Mughal miniatures and their iconography  to portray some of the foreign Returned – each one holding a visual clue about the multiple identies they spanned.

Moat interesting of all to me was that Meera chose to record these portraits using both the subjects’ legal names (“good names”) and their anglicised abbreviations.

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from top to bottom, Sudhar/Sue; Parminder/Paul; K Swaminatham/Sam; Mariam/Mary. All images via MeeraSethi.com where Meera’s newer projects are also on show and can be bought for very good prices – the Auntie series is going to be a particular hit, I imagine. Meera is also on Instagram @meerasethi

Miss Maidie and Elsie

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Miss Maidie and Elsie Scott. Painted in the First World War when the sisters befriended Wilfred Owen, this portrait is so redolent of the Edwardian Era.

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For the first time I’m in two minds about Remembrance Day. Events in America and across Europe show the importance of not forgetting history, and with this year as the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One and next year as the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two, the next two years are important ones to recall. But my fear is that we’re more comfortable as a society in focusing on a carefully-glossed version of the past than in looking at more recent, veterans and social conflicts.

Travellers

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This could easily be yet-another half-written survey of nazi Germany intended to cash in on our society’s fascination with this period, but it’s actually a well-researched, gripping and often unexpected survey of the times. The opening chapters reflecting on the poverty and hunger of early 20s Germany and the starvation that led many church groups to offer aid are particularly interesting as they often get passed over in a few sentences in history books, but the analysis of the reasons why so many visitors kept their heads in the sand is also far more subtle than the usual they-hoped-to-avoid-war explanations. Highly recommended and a very easy read: I tore through it in a day.

Laura Mvula

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Intrigued by the newest commissions in the National Portrait Gallery. Part of me loves the bold stars and colourfulness of this portrait of Laura Mvula; part of me is a little bored by the imitation of an early Lucien Freud or a Stanley Spencer piece, whilst also thinking that this 50s/60s vine is very on trend right now and therefore still representative of the late 2010s.