The Romanovs’ Art of Survival

Anastasia Edel

The daughters of Tsar Nicholas II—Marie, Tatiana, Anastasia, and Olga—Russia, circa 1915

Almost all the Romanovs had an artistic bent: they painted, doodled, carved, embroidered, cut jewelry, or sculpted. For many Romanov exiles after 1917—hounded, stripped of their wealth, living under the constant fear of further reprisals—art became, in part, a coping mechanism. Later, as the memory of the massacre gave way in its immediacy, new generations of Romanovs took to art for reasons not so different from the rest of us: to meditate, to understand, and to express. Imaginative, often humorous, and at times fantastical, these artifacts paint a different, more authentic portrait of a family whose life and legacy continue to pique our interest, one hundred years after the Romanovs were swept off the world’s political stage.

The Serious Charm of Edward Bawden

Jenny Uglow

Edward Bawden: Untitled landscape with sunset, 1927

Some critics mutter “tame” and—dread word—“charming,” and sneer at the twee marketing of Edward Bawden’s prints on greetings cards, handbags, kitchen tea-towels, and fridge magnets. But there’s more to Bawden than that. His admirers proclaim him as a mischievous genius, an edgy, brilliant designer, blending tradition with modernism. Yet the question echoes, as it so often does for those who follow a commercial career: Is he “a proper artist”? But after seeing the rich and surprising variety of work in the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s show, who can say that Edward Bawden is not?

World Cup 2018: A View from the Stands

Simon Kuper

Fans watching Belgium play Panama in an Irish bar in Moscow, Russia, June 18, 2018

When friends hear that I’m at the World Cup, they often say how envious they are. They don’t need to be. I watch games squeezed in among other chubby, middle-aged British journalists in the press stand, eating my dinner of peanuts from the stadium vending machine. I rarely care who wins. Nor, usually, do most of the spectators. The crowd at most games consists chiefly of neutral Russians, who fill the duller stretches with chants of “Rossiya,” along with fans whose countries have already been knocked out but who weren’t ready to go home yet. But the emotional locus of this tournament is more in living rooms and bars around the world than here in the place where the thing is actually happening.

A Ballot on the Brothels of Nevada

Julie Bindel

A prostitute at Moonlite Bunny Ranch, one of Dennis Hof’s brothels, struggling to stay awake after a long shift, Nevada, January 2008

The legal brothels of Nevada, dotted amid expanses of deserts and mountains, have existed in the state since around 1870 and are seen as part of the fabric of society by some, though they are loathed by others. Today, though, this Nevadan institution—unique in the United States, where prostitution is otherwise illegal—is under threat from a proposed change to the decades-old legislation that permitted it. A great deal is at stake, for the brothel owners are powerful, wealthy men, while their legal brothels—hailed as safe, benign, and desirable—work as a propaganda machine for the much larger, illicit sex trade in Las Vegas.

How the BBC Lost the Plot on Brexit

Nick Cohen

Leave.EU backer Arron Banks arriving with fellow Brexit campaigner Andy Wigmore to give evidence to a parliamentary committee after British newspapers reported that Banks had held a series of meetings with the Russian ambassador before the 2016 Brexit referendum, London, June 12, 2018

The BBC’s reporting of the scandals around the Brexit referendum is not biased or unbalanced: it barely exists. It is as though the US networks had decided the Mueller investigation was no concern of theirs. There have been three huge stories the BBC has covered with only the most perfunctory reports: the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data leak, the Brexit campaign funding scandal, and the exposure of Russian interference in British politics. What is the point of a news organization that is frightened of journalism?

World Cup 2018: Croatia’s Conflict Resolution

Ivan Sršen

A Croatian football fan sitting in front of an art installation showing a former Yugoslav National Army tank in collision with a small red car, commemorating an actual event regarded by many as marking the beginning of the 1991–1995 war, Osijek, eastern Croatia, 2012

I sat on our sofa in Zagreb with my son, now the same age as I was back in 1990, to watch Croatia play Argentina in our second match in the World Cup in Russia. Twenty-eight years have passed since the summer that’s stuck in my mind, ever after, as the end of my innocence and my country’s. But suddenly, I was taking part in a remake of that long-gone experience, made up of familiar actors: Maradona was there, in the VIP section of the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, an eleven-year-old boy was sitting next to me, and I was watching the screen in disbelief: “How on earth is Croatia going to pull this off?”

A Place at the Table: An Exchange

Judy Chicago, reply by Esther Allen

Judy Chicago: a detail of The Dinner Party (1974–1979)

Judy Chicago: To clarify, except for Clarice Lispector, all of the women Allen mentions are included on the “Heritage Floor” of The Dinner Party and the accompanying “Heritage Panels,” which visually detail those women’s various contributions. Moreover, a photograph of Sor Juana figures prominently on one of the panels.
Esther Allen: Readers may now take note that the names of La Malinche, Santa Theresa de Avila, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Gabriela Mistral, and Frida Kahlo are there, down underfoot.

World Cup 2018: English Romance

Christopher de Bellaigue

England player Harry Maguire talking to his fiancée Fern Hawkins after the game against Colombia at Spartak Stadium, Moscow, Russia, July 3, 2018

Nine months before the UK leaves Europe, the terms of our disengagement have gone from unclear to opaque, and the government is vulnerable to internal revolt. But the good news eclipses the bad, doesn’t it? And all that—and Boris Johnson, and the Brexit question of what is to happen to the Irish border, and the future of our blight-ravaged high streets—is marginalia. As a nation, England has to concentrate on the task at hand and ignore peripheral distractions. Come on, football, you know you want it.

The Food of My Youth

Melissa Chadburn

“Hot Cheetos,” a common snack costing a dollar from drive-through convenience stores that accept food stamps, McAllen, Texas, 2013

I’d look longingly at my white friends’ granola, brown rice, and multigrain bread. Trips to the grocery store were always loaded with feelings of shame and desire. Fresh produce was the most extravagant, exotic thing on the shelves, even though it was my people that had picked it in the Central Valley. And so I stood beside my single mother in line at the supermarket, arguing with the cashier about the high cost of our groceries. And when the Man handed over our food stamps, we were called moochers, a drain on our country.

Returning the Gaze, with a Vengeance

Esther Allen

Marta María Pérez Bravo: from Para concebir (To conceive), 1985–1986

In the video pieces Transfiguración elemento tierra (1983), Jennifer Hackshaw and María Luisa González, of the artist collective Yeni & Nan, stare into the camera silently and without expression. Little by little, the viewer notices that they don’t ever blink, not once; to achieve this, both artists trained in meditation. “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at,” John Berger wrote. The radical, unyielding intensity of Hackshaw and Gonzalez’s transfixed twin gaze does not conceive of being looked at. It sees.