Folklife Friday is a new weekly digest of arts and culture articles, podcasts, and videos from across the web curated by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Read on for a selection of the week’s best cultural heritage pieces, and don’t forget to check back next Friday for a new set of weekly picks.
“El Little Príncipe”—Translating Saint-Exupéry’s Classic into Spanglish
In El Little Príncipe, author Ilan Stavan reimagines The Little Prince in “jazzy, syncopated” Spanglish. Stavan’s interest in translating the work, as he explores in this piece, stems from his discovery, only a year ago, of over a dozen Spanish versions of the text. “Spanglish isn’t only about word choice,” Stavan explains in describing the hybrid language. “It is about the intercourse of two syntaxes, two grammars, and, generally, two weltanschauungs.”
Before Asian Americans Could Be “Woke,” They Had to Shed the “Oriental” Label
Roots: Asian American Movement in Los Angeles 1968-80s, a new exhibition at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, brings together photographs, protest literature, and other artwork to explore Asian American activism in a decade of displacement. The collection, supplemented with contemporary artwork, explores how Asian Americans countered “Oriental” stereotypes to define a nuanced, multifaceted identity. “I used to shy away from that part of me—looking, feeling and being Asian,” Jonathan Park, a Koreatown rapper explains. “But that was driven by insecurity and that has gone away lately.”
What Death Threats against My Parents Taught Me about Taking a Stand
It was on a recent trip to the National Museum of African American History and Culture that our own Michael Atwood Mason came face to face with the same questions of bigotry that his parents grappled with in the 1960s. In this op-ed, Michael reflects on his parents’ work to counter racism in Wilmington, Delaware, and how that work informs his own. “These stories are complicated, and messy, and full of contradictions,” Michael writes. “But they are our stories, fundamentally American stories, and they deserve to be told—and heard.”
Four Tet Shares Playlist of Artists from Countries Affected by Immigration Order
Baghdad-born oud player Rahim AlHaj is just one of the artists featured in this Spotify playlist from Kieran Hebden, an electronic producer better known as Four Tet. The list, which spotlights work from artists affected by the recent travel and immigration order, also features Hasan Adan Samatar, a Somali artist who, in 2010, was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the Somali community in Minneapolis.
Private View: El Racó
For Joan Gardy-Artigas, a Catalan ceramicist who worked alongside Picasso, Miró, and Chagall—to name a few—the practice of sculpting is part expression, part escape. In this transfixing video, director Marc Puig takes viewers inside the artist’s studio—itself a work of art. “Profession isn’t the most important thing,” Artigas says. “One’s identity, spirit, and creations are what matters.”
Special thanks to Michael Mason and Betty Belanus for their contributions to this week’s digest.
Photo by Adrian Metasboc