Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘spain’

Photo: John Stone
While researching Scots economist Adam Smith, a Canadian academic found an edition of Shakespeare’s last play in a Scottish Catholic college in Spain!

Sometimes when scientists are doing basic research with no practical application in sight they land on the missing piece to understanding a rare disease. And when conservationists preserve some creature no one else cares about, the world may later find that the creature is essential to a whole ecosystem. Unexpected discoveries are often the best kind.

Meanwhile, in the department of Treasures Found While Seeking Something Else, there’s a delightful report at the BBC on the unsought discovery of a rare copy of Shakespeare’s last play. No one would have found it if they were looking for it.

Reevel Alderson from BBC Scotland writes, “The Two Noble Kinsmen, written by Shakespeare with John Fletcher, was found by a researcher investigating the work of the Scots economist Adam Smith. …

“In the 17th Century, the seminary in Madrid was an important source of English literature for Spanish intellectuals. The Two Noble Kinsmen was included in a volume made up of several English plays printed from 1630 to 1635.

“Dr John Stone, of the University of Barcelona, said he found it among old books in the library of the Real Colegio de Escoceses — Royal Scots College (RSC) — which is now in Salamanca.

” ‘Friendship turns to rivalry in this study of the intoxication and strangeness of love,’ is how the Royal Shakespeare Company described the play, which is based on Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale.

“It was probably written around 1613-14 by Shakespeare and John Fletcher, one of the house playwrights in the Bard’s theatre company the King’s Men. …

“Described as a ‘tragicomedy,’ the play features best friends, who are knights captured in a battle. From the window of their prison they see a beautiful woman with whom they each fall in love. Within a moment they have turned from intimate friends to jealous rivals in a strange love story which features absurd adventures and confusions.

“Dr Stone, who has worked in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, said: ‘It is likely these plays arrived as part of some student’s personal library or at the request of the rector of the Royal Scots College, Hugh Semple, who was friends with the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega and had more plays in his personal library. …

” ‘In the 17th and 18th Centuries, collections of books in English were rare in Spain because of ecclesiastical censorship, but the Scots college had special authorisation to import whatever they wanted.’ …

“The rector of the Scots College, Father Tom Kilbride, said the college was proud such an important work had been discovered in its library.

“He said: ‘It says a lot about the kind of education the trainee priests were getting from the foundation of the college in Madrid in 1627, a rounded education in which the culture of the period played an important part. To think that plays would have been read, and possibly performed at that time is quite exciting. There was clearly a great interest in Spain at that time in English literature.’

“The RSC no longer trains men for the priesthood in Scotland, but offers preparatory six-month courses for those expressing a vocation, and holds regular retreats and conferences for the Scottish Catholic community.” More at the BBC, here.

Hat tip: ArtsJournal.com.

Read Full Post »

110570490_earthsandwich

Photo: Etienne Naude
“I felt that I was making something bigger than me,” said Angel Sierra (right) after he and Etienne Naude made the Earth into a sandwich with pieces of bread 8,000 miles apart.

I love any attention-getting gag meant to show we are all part of one world. This story describes a feat that seems silly on the surface, but draws attention to something deep. Eight thousand miles deep.

As Owen Amos reported at the BBC in January, “Two men in New Zealand and Spain have created an ‘Earth sandwich’ — by placing bread on precise points, either side of the planet, at the same time.

“The man behind the sandwich, Etienne Naude from Auckland, told the BBC he wanted to make one for ‘years,’ but had struggled to find someone in Spain, on the other side of the globe. He finally found someone after posting on the online message board, Reddit.

“The men used longitude and latitude to make sure they were precisely opposite. That meant there was around 12,724km (7,917 miles) of Earth packed between the slices — and some 20,000km between the men, for those forced to travel the conventional route.

“The first ‘Earth sandwich’ is credited to the American artist Ze Frank, who organised two slices of baguette to be placed in New Zealand and Spain in 2006. …

“Wanting to create his own, Mr Naude, 19, used an online longitude and latitude tool called ‘tunnel to the other side of the Earth’ to find his exact opposite point. …

“He posted on the Spain section of the online message board Reddit. He got ‘a few replies’ and found one person close to the precise location.

Angel Sierra, a 34-year-old chef, told the BBC he replied to the message because ‘it can help to show how people can work together across the globe … I felt that I was making something bigger than me.’ …

“Once the men were in contact, then came the tricky part — making a sandwich with another person when you are on opposite sides of the planet.

” ‘It was quite hard to organise since it’s 12-hour time difference,’ Mr Naude said. ‘And there’s lots of things to arrange, such as the kind of bread, the time, the [precise] location, et cetera. … It’s quite tough to find a spot which isn’t water on the New Zealand end — and where public roads or paths intersect in both sides.’ …

“Using a ‘near top of the range laser cutter,’ he burnt an ‘Earth sandwich’ design onto 20 slices of bread, then used one slice to mark his exact, tightly defined sandwich spot in New Zealand.

“His counterpart used nine slices of unmarked bread to make sure he covered the exact spot. …

“The scientific name for points opposite each other on the Earth’s surface is antipodes … According to World Atlas, only around 15% of ‘territorial land’ is antipodal to other land. The UK, Australia and most of the US do not have antipodal land points — the other side of the world is water. More at the BBC, here.

Naude was later reported saying, “It’s also quite nice to just know that there is someone at the exact opposite point of the world that has done exactly the same thing as you. In this one particular instance, we’ve got entirely different lives, but we are now connected by this one point.”

Read Full Post »

spanish-stonehenge-1024x604

Photo: Ruben Ortega Martin, Raices de Peraleda
Drought has uncovered a Spanish version of Stonehenge, the 7,000-year-old Dolmen of Guadalperal.

As global warming brings changes to our planet, the permafrost is melting and releasing dangerous bacteria. But sometimes other, less harmful things come to light.

Caroline Goldstein writes at ArtNet, “If there’s even the slightest silver lining to the ravages of climate change, it’s that the warming conditions are revealing some previously unknown archaeological sites and artifacts.

“This past summer, an extreme drought in the Extremadura area of Spain that caused the Valdecañas Reservoir’s water levels to plummet has revealed a series of megalithic stones. Previously submerged underwater, the Dolmen de Guadalperal, often called the Spanish Stonehenge, are now in plain sight.

“Though the Dolmen are 7,000 years old, the last time they were seen in their entirety was around 1963, when the reservoir was built as part of Franco’s push toward modernization. …

“Angel Castaño, who lives near the reservoir and serves as the president of a Spanish cultural group, told the website the Local, ‘We grew up hearing about the legend of the treasure hidden beneath the lake and now we finally get to view them.’

“The approximately 100 menhirs are, like Stonehenge, hulking megalith stones — some standing up to six feet tall — that are arranged in an oval and appear oriented to filter sunlight. Evidence suggests that these stones could actually be 2,000 years older than Stonehenge.

“Castaño is working with the group Raices de Peraleda to move the dolmen before rains come and re-submerge them. ‘Whatever we do here needs to be done extremely carefully.’ he said.”

I guess so. I can’t help wondering if it would be better to move the reservoir and leave the stones, which obviously were placed where they are for a reason. But not being an engineer, I suppose moving the reservoir would be even more difficult. And already access to water is becoming a serious problem around the world. (For a heartbreaking story about the difficulty many Navajo people have getting clean water, read this.)

So hard to balance conflicting goods!

More here.

Read Full Post »

2982

Photo: Universo Santi
This haute cuisine restaurant in Spain makes a point of hiring workers with disabilities.

I have posted a few stories about successful operations that hire workers with disabilities, but this is the first I remember seeing about a high-class restaurant set up for the purpose of creating jobs that don’t differ from jobs in establishments that don’t use workers with disabilities.

Stephen Burgen writes at the Guardian, “The first thing that strikes you is the calm, the light, the modern art on the walls – and then of course the food. It’s only later that you realise there is something different, and a little special, about Universo Santi, a restaurant in the southern Spanish city of Jerez.

“ ‘People don’t come here because the staff are disabled but because it’s the best restaurant in the area. Whatever reason they came for, the talking is about the food,’ says Antonio Vila.

“Vila is the president of the Fundación Universo Accesible, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping people with disabilities join the mainstream workforce. He has also been the driving force behind Universo Santi, the haute cuisine restaurant whose 20 employees all have some form of disability.

“ ‘I always wanted to show what people with disabilities, given the right training, were capable of,’ says Vila, who is a senior manager at DKV insurance. ‘They were not represented in the world of haute cuisine. Universo Santi has broken through that barrier.’

“The 20 staff, whose ages range from 22 to 62, were recruited from an original list of 1,500. To qualify, applicants had to be unemployed and have more than 35% disability.

“ ‘I feel really lucky to be part of this,’ says Gloria Bazán, head of human resources, who has cerebral palsy. ‘It’s difficult to work when society just sees you as someone with a handicap. This has given me the opportunity to be independent and to participate like any other human being.’

“Alejandro Giménez, 23, has Down’s syndrome and is a commis chef. ‘It’s given me the chance to become independent doing something I’ve loved since I was a kid,’ says Giménez, who lived with his mother until he was recruited.

“ ‘Working here has transformed my life. So many things I used to ask my mother to do, I do myself. I didn’t even know how to take a train by myself because I’d just miss my stop.’ …

“Universo Santi may soon have a star in the Michelin firmament as the Michelin Guide people have already sampled the menu which, at €60 (£53), is less than half the price of a typical menú de degustación.

“ ‘Of course they didn’t introduce themselves but we knew who they were,’ says Almudena Merlo, the maître d’. …

“The Jerez restaurant takes its name from Santi Santamaria, chef at the Michelin three-star Can Fabes in Catalonia until his sudden death in 2011. Can Fabes closed shortly afterwards but his family wanted to carry on his name and culinary tradition and were keen to support the Jerez project. …

“The family’s enthusiasm attracted the attention of Spain’s top chefs, among them Martín Berasategui, [Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, twice voted the best restaurant in the world] and Ángel León, all of whom have contributed recipes and their time as guest chefs at the restaurant.”

More at the Guardian, here. The article also mentions other European enterprises that employ people with disabilities.

Photo: Universo Santi
Says Alejandro Giménez, a junior chef with Down Syndrome who works at Universo Santi in Jerez, “Working here has transformed my life.”

768

Read Full Post »


Image: Tom McShane
The author of those lines is an unusual 10th century figure — Shmuel HaNagid, prime minister of the kingdom of Granada in Spain, head of both Granada’s Muslim army
and Andalusia’s Jewish community.

The force of history works in mysterious ways. Here is a story about how an ancient Arabic poetic tradition was preserved because Jewish poets valued it.

Benjamin Ramm reports at the BBC, “On 9 December 1499, the citizens of Granada awoke to a scene of devastation: the smouldering remains of over a million Arabic manuscripts, burnt on the orders of the Spanish Inquisition. …

“[Years before], as much of Europe languished in the Dark Ages, the Iberian peninsula was a cultural oasis, the brightest beacon of civilisation. Under the Umayyad dynasty, the caliphate of Al-Andalus stretched from Lisbon to Zaragoza, and centred on the Andalusian cities of Córdoba, Granada and Seville. From the 8th Century, the caliphate oversaw a period of extraordinary cross-cultural creativity known as La Convivencia (the Coexistence). …

“Among the Muslim poets of Al-Andalus, there was a concerted attempt to rediscover and reinvent the literary forms of Arabic, sophisticated and lyrical, rooted in the concept of fasaaha (clarity, elegance). The fire in Granada destroyed part of this heritage, but it survives in an unexpected form – in an imaginative body of Hebrew poetry, which illustrates the extent of cross-cultural exchange.

“Peter Cole, the foremost translator of Hebrew poetry from Al-Andalus, argues in his book The Dream of the Poem that a major legacy of the Moorish writers was to inspire Jewish poets to emulate their work. … The innovations were initiated in the 10th Century by Dunash Ben Labrat. …

“Controversially, Ben Labrat adopted Arabic poetic metre, and was accused of ‘destroying the holy tongue’ and ‘bringing calamity upon his people’. But the Hebrew renaissance that followed produced some of the most beautiful poetry in the language, and the period became known as the ‘Golden Age’ of Iberian Jewish culture. …

“At a time of intercommunal tension, it is tempting to idealise this Muslim-Jewish period of mutual flourishing. There are critics who argue against the notion of La Convivencia – some have called it a ‘myth.’ … Documentation about communal relations during this period is scant, [and] the extent of ‘coexistence’ continues to be a subject of passionate disputation. …

“The kingdom of Granada was the last territory to fall to the Christian Reconquest in 1492, after which Jews were forcibly converted or expelled. Saadia Ibn Danaan, a rabbi who wrote prose in Arabic and poetry in Hebrew, transmitted the tradition to North Africa.” Read more.

Read Full Post »


Photo: American Theatre
A scene from “Mentiras Piadosas,” by the troupe Los ImproDucktivos. That’s the audience watching from behind the Venetian blinds.

Theater people keep thinking up new ways to create work that moves you in an immediate and intimate way and that attracts new audiences. We’ve written about theater in taxis in Iran and dramatic productions conducted one-on-one, among other experiments.

Now from Spain comes micro theater, 10-minute plays that allow you to stand in the same room with the actors.

Felicity Hughes writes at American Theatre, “On a rainy Thursday night in Madrid the bar of Micro Teatro Por Dinero is packed with a young crowd of theatregoers waiting to catch a short performance in one of the five tiny rooms in the venue’s basement. When our number is called, we’re led into a small dark room where the audience sits pressed up against each other sardine fashion on tiny stools.

A door is flung open, immediately breaking the fourth wall as a distressed young man stumbles in and sits down on my knee in floods of tears.

“ ‘Never before has there been a theatre so close, so intimate, and so open — there are no preconceptions, no limits, no censure,’ says Miguel Alcantud, the inventor of micro teatro, an abbreviated form of theatre. …

“The concept has since become so popular that the Micro Teatro Por Dinero franchise has been sold to venues in 15 different cities around the globe, including Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Lebanon, even Miami. …

“ ‘The cost of putting on a show is very small, and we change the program every month,’ Alcantud continues. ‘We don’t mind if the piece works or doesn’t work, because we’re always putting something new on. The commercial success of a single show doesn’t matter so much.’ …

“ ‘You feel as if you’re breathing alongside the public and they’re breathing with you,’ says [Juan Carlos Pabón, a Venezuelan actor]. ‘We’re dealing with a lot of emotion inside a scene and a lot of attention. There’s not as much artifice, so it’s a tough discipline; the public are really concentrating on you, and notice the good along with the not so good.’ ” More here.

The director in Miami says audiences seem to prefer comedies to dramas. I can see why. If you are going to be that up close and personal with strangers, you probably want keep things light.

Read Full Post »

Street art is not just for stationary walls any more. According to Kate Essig at WNYC radio, some pretty amazing specimens are now on the move.

“Art in Spain got a sweet new set of wheels thanks to the Truck Art Project,” she writes. “In this collaboration between a transport company and the local art community,  street art takes the form of stunning mobile murals on  — you guessed it —  trucks.

“The project works with popular urban artists like Javier Arce, Suso33, and Marina Vargas to take their works off the wall and put them in motion. …

“The goal of the project is to make contemporary artwork accessible to all, even if it’s just a surprise sighting at a stoplight — so those in Spain who aren’t frequent gallery go-ers can still glimpse this art on the go.” An inspiring array of truck-art photos can be seen here.

And be sure to check out the project website, which reads in part, “Truck Art Project is an original art patronage project launched by the entrepreneur and collector Jaime Colsa, and curated by Fer Francés in contemporary art and Óscar Sanz in urban art. …

“The trucks working with the project will be the gigantic backdrops for the artworks. The initiative thereby becomes a living display of the most current tendencies in the country’s painting, drawing, and urban art (although the ambitious program intends to be even more multidisciplinary, involving other art forms such as photography, music, or cinema), away from the confines of a museum and aimed at non-traditional spectators and contexts that don’t usually lend themselves to contemporary art.”

Read Full Post »

John is a great source for articles on cutting-edge technologies. He sent me this one Thursday about using plants to make electricity. The students in Spain who designed the technology are nothing if not ambitious. Their goal is to have the whole world covered in trees making electricity. You can watch their video, below, or bear with me as I channel Google Translate’s English rendition of a Spanish blog post.

, at Blog Think Big, says, “Thanks to Bioo system, created by the students of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Ramón Llull University with the startup Arkyne Technologies, families could cover their basic electricity needs through 10 × 10 meters of vegetation panels. But how?

“The prototype initially created by the students of the UAB is a plant in a pot that lets you charge a mobile phone. According to the explanation for the 4YFN space last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the system ‘generates power 3-40 watts per square meter from some vegetable panels and a biological battery that takes energy waste (matter organic) that plants need not despise.’ [Oops: that has to be Google. Shall we change it to ‘plants don’t need’?]

“Thus, the device is able to steadily produce electricity through a self-supply system. In addition, according to the engineers, the operation does not affect the plants and is economical.

“Students are betting on a ‘smart city’ concept that allows people using Bioo buy or sell electricity. The goal, in addition to developing these systems in homes, [is to extend them to] agriculture or green roofs of public buildings.”

Maybe you better watch the video. But there’s more here, if you read Spanish.

Video: Bioo Lite

Read Full Post »

Here is an annual spectacle I’d love to see.

“Shepherds led a flock of 2,000 sheep through the streets of Spain’s capital and largest city on Sunday, in defense of ancient grazing, droving and migration rights that have been increasingly threatened by urban sprawl and modern agricultural practices.

“Those urban settings were once open fields and woodlands, crisscrossed by droving routes. Since at least the year 1273, the country’s shepherds have had the legal right to use about 78,000 miles of droving routes around the country to move livestock seasonally between summer pastures in the cool highlands and more protected lowland grazing areas in the winter.

“Every year, a handful of shepherds defend that right in Spain’s capital city.”

I guess it’s use it or lose it. Plus it’s good to make people think about where their food and wool come from, and whether things have changed for the better.

More from the Associated Press.

Photo: Andres Kudacki/Associated Press
Shepherds led a flock of 2,000 sheep through some of Madrid’s most sophisticated settings on Sunday.

Read Full Post »

Matadero was an old abandoned slaughterhouse in Madrid. Lately it has been “evolving into a cultural laboratory, where a new arts financing strategy is being tested.” So says Doreen Carvajal in the NY Times.

“Companies and institutions are providing financial support to supplement dwindling government arts subsidies, but with a twist: they don’t just send checks, they move in.

“Within the walled 59,000-square-foot center, there are public theaters and exhibition spaces that last year drew more than 500,000 visitors for music and art events and avant-garde plays. But five new residents are private institutions, including a designers’ association, a publishing house’s foundation and offices of Red Bull, the Austrian energy drink maker.

“They are in the compound rent-free for now, but have invested millions in the remodeling of pavilions there, as well as in programming, from art exhibitions to music festivals.

“These new partnerships are forged, out of necessity, here in Spain, where government support for culture has plunged by almost 50 percent over the last four years, a result of a lingering economic crisis that hit late in 2008.”

Some observers worry about the downsides of corporations having a big influence on what art gets shown, but haven’t the arts always had to have some help from patrons or companies?

Probably it pays just to be wary, to recognize when there is undue influence, and to push back. Certainly smaller, more experimental projects are unlikely to find a home under a Red Bull banner.

Read more at the Times, here.

Photo: Carlos Luján for The International Herald Tribune
Inside Matadero Madrid: A closer look at the arts complex.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: