Sun Ra: A True Birthday

by Seth Colter Walls

The prospect of getting to know Sun Ra’s massive, erratically organized oeuvre may seem discouraging. But giving up on the ability to know everything doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to total ignorance, either. That realization is a part of what is so welcome about Jazz at Lincoln Center’s embrace of the Sun Ra Arkestra this month.

Beyond the Camps: Images of the Syrian Exodus

by Hugh Eakin and Alisa Roth

In sheer numbers alone, the scale of Syria’s humanitarian crisis is difficult to grasp: a third of the country’s 22.5 million people have abandoned their homes; 10 percent have fled the country, including more than one million children. The crisis has also been hard to understand because the Syrians who have fled are dispersed in hundreds of villages, towns, and cities across the region. These photographs, taken during reporting this summer in Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq, show some of the many different situations in which the refugees now find themselves.

Dancing Kafka

by Laura Marsh

Edward Watson’s performance as Gregor Samsa in The Metamorphosis shows how thin the line between the beautiful and the grotesque can be in ballet. Watson, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, has danced the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, Rudolf in Mayerling and next year will dance Romeo in MacMillan’s Romeo and Juliet. In this adaptation of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis by Arthur Pita, Watson evokes the nightmarish experience Kafka describes—of a man who wakes up one morning to find himself transformed into a giant insect—through the vocabulary of ballet. Here you can see his leg turned out at the hip and his foot arched. But what he is doing with his toes makes the whole posture hideous. They wriggle like a millipede’s legs, as though beyond his control, and Watson looks at them in horror.

Marville’s Vanished Paris

by Luc Sante

Charles Marville is best known for his government commission to photograph the neighborhoods of Paris slated for demolition during Baron Haussmann’s reconfiguration of the city between 1853 and 1870. His technical mastery of the medium was such that he made cloud studies of the sky over the Invalides fifty years before clouds featured much in photography, since they tended not to cooperate with the long exposure times. But as rich and fascinating as are those aspects of his work, it is still the documentation of old Paris that secures his place in the highest rank of photographic achievement.

Scenes from a Crackdown: What Really Happened in Cairo?

by Yasmine El Rashidi

The events in Cairo of August 14, in which Egyptian security forces confronted thousands of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, were widely covered around the world. Most reports have described the protesters as unarmed and peaceful. However it was clear, both from what I witnessed on the ground and from extensive footage recording the events that day, that a faction of the protesters were heavily armed, and that both Islamists and the police used live ammunition in the confrontation that followed.