Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catalonia, Land of Missegetes

In the 5th century, Hecataeus of Miletus described the part of Iberia now known as Catalonia as a land of missegetes: mixed peoples. Catalonia has always been a crossroads and the Catalans have always been travelers.

The Fall program of the Catalan Center highlights and celebrates these to-and-fros of Catalan culture through a focus on scholarly literature and documentary cinema.

American scholarship: Americans here and abroad and Catalans at U.S. universities are producing original works of scholarship in English about Catalan culture. Stephen Jacobson’s Catalonia’s Advocates: Lawyers,Society, and Politics in Barcelona—1759-1900 reads European social history through the resurgence of Catalan law in the 19th century. Hot off the presses, John Ochsendorf’s Guastavino Vaulting traces the development of this remarkable construction technology from its Mediterranean roots to to the Oyster Bar at Rockefeller Center or the 59th Street Bridge. Finally,Professor Sara Nadal will return to NYU to speak on The Invisible Tradition: Avant-Garde Catalan Cinema Under Late Francoism, the first issue of the venerable Hispanic Review to be devoted to Catalan culture, and a new approach to Pere Portabella, Joaquim Jordà,Jacint Esteva, et al.

Film, form, and genre: Professor Jordi Balló, the founder of the M.A. in Creative Documentaries at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, will join us to explain the origins and influence of the program and kick off the semester-long film series. To quote Gerwin Tamsma of the International Film Festival Rotterdam: “The[se films] represent the cutting edge of arguably the most important trends in cinema: […] the rise of digital technology, and the disappearance of fixed borders between fiction and documentary.” The seven films on view in this series do their part to blur these borders; it is a rare opportunity to see them in the U.S.

Catalan Artists See the World: Under this rubric The Catalan Center presents work by Catalan artists on countries other than Catalonia. This fall we are proud to collaborate with the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center on an exhibition of Catalan artist Mireia Sallarès’s work, Las Muertes Chiquitas/ Little Deaths. Her exhibition/film/documentary archive reflects three years of interviews with Mexican women who, invited to talk about orgasm, proceeded to discuss life, death, gender, sexuality, violence, politics, and family. This gripping portrayal of the contemporary life and thought of Mexican women, part of a long, ongoing conversation between Catalonia and Mexico, will be shown at the CSV Center from October 16-28.

Missegetes one and all, please join us on these fascinating journeys!

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