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  • Folklife Friday: Yo-Yo Ma, Multilingual Museums, Cuban Culture, 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.

    Yo-Yo Ma and the beauty of music in a violent world
    For Morgan Neville, whose new documentary The Music of Strangers follows the Silk Road Ensemble, an international collective created by Yo-Yo Ma, classifying the group’s work as “world music” misses the forest for the trees. “Everyone is retaining their own individual identity and figuring out a way to keep their own voice in harmony with other voices.”

    The Challenge of Making US Museums Multilingual
    In deciding what to translate and to what extent, museums see the most success when language and education work in tandem, according to Julie Schwietert Collazo. As Kathryn Potts, director of education at the Whitney Museum of American Art, explains, it’s not fluency alone that makes educators or docents engaging, but their nuanced understanding of the target audience.

    Cuba is a four-letter word to many Americans. But not to its island neighbors.
    In his new book, Island People: The Caribbean and the World, Joshua Jelly-Schapiro explores Cuba’s rich cultural history—one bound up in revolution and innovation. In his examination of the oft-misunderstood nation, Jelly-Schapiro takes a closer look at Cuba’s cultural influence on a global scale, particularly in America. He claims, “we think about rock and roll (‘Louie, Louie!’), bits of this music really came from Cuba.”

    Art’s red pill: An appreciation of critic John Berger
    “What Berger taught me,” Carolina Miranda writes in this reflection on the late art critic John Berger, “is not just how to look at an image—but to look through it and ask why and how.” Berger, who passed away Monday, gained widespread notoreity for Ways of Seeing, a four-part BBC documentary on visual culture and art history. For Miranda, Berger’s strength lied in his ability to tell the stories behind works of art, arriving at their social and political underpinnings.

    What Does It Mean to Acknowledge the Past?
    It was on a writers’ panel in Australia that Angela Flournoy first encountered an “acknowledgement of country,” or a formal announcement that the land once belonged to indigenous people. While some view the practice as lip service, others stress that it sets a precedent for just action. “The tradition is not so much about revisiting a nation’s past sins,” Flournoy explains, “as it is about restoring the oldest of ceremonial gestures to a place.”

    Special thanks to editor Elisa Hough for her contributions to this week’s Folklife Friday Digest.

    Photo by PJ Accetturo

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