Skip to main content
  • Folklife Friday: Photos from Havana, Chinese Sci-Fi, East African Retro Pop, and More

    Folklife Friday is a weekly digest of arts and culture articles, podcasts, and videos from across the web. 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.

    Intimate Pictures Show Cuba Through the Eyes of Its Youth
    In this photo series, captured at a National Geographic Photo Camp in Havana, the city’s youth pair vivid imagery with rich language to answer the question: what does it mean to be Cuban? On the heels of Fidel Castro’s death, the striking photos portray a city that’s at once uncertain and hopeful. “Even though it has its good things and bad things,” Sandra Delfín de León explains, “in the end it’s my homeland, and I’ll love it just the way it is.”

    ‘People hope my book will be China’s Star Wars’: Liu Cixin on China’s exploding sci-fi scene
    Liu Cixin, an award-winning author whose novel The Three Body Work is currently being adapted into film, came upon science fiction in the most unlikely of settings: the height of the Cultural Revolution. It was only in the 1970s that economic reform took hold in China and, with it, interest in previously unavailable science fiction surged. For Liu, sci-fi is a literary vessel wherein “the human race is perceived as a single entity, undivided.”

    Born In Sudan, Based In Brooklyn. A Singer Remixes Her Identities
    Alsarah, who left her native Sudan as a child, took to ethnomusicology to find her place in the United States. Her studies drew her to musicians and others struggling over the same questions of identity and place. “It’s the trauma of trying to explain yourself to yourself,” Alsarah explains. “I wasn’t from any one place any more.” Now the lead singer in the Brooklyn-based band Alsarah & The Nubatones, she weaves traditional and contemporary influences into her “East African retro pop.”

    Modern art breaks free of the old borders
    The Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art are among a handful of institutions working to broaden their modern collections to include work from Africa, Asia, and beyond. Whether starting from the ground up or integrating new narratives into existing collections, the museums are reviving a model wherein “the geographic and topical breadth was much wider than the clichéd version of our history now presents,” says Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture at the MoMA.

    Instagramps: Long-Distance Grandpa’s Art Carries His Love Across The World
    For Chanjae Lee, a seventy-five-year-old retiree living in South Korea, the idea of starting an Instagram account to capture his drawings didn’t hold much appeal. It was only after Lee’s grandson, Astro, was born that Chanjae agreed to give the platform a try to connect with his family in New York. Lee’s account, @drawings_for_my_grandchildren, now boasts a 110,000-strong following and has inspired others to connect on the photo-sharing platform.

    Photo by Patrick Tomasso


Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.

.