Tag Archives: Popular Culture

Congratulations to Peter Lucas, Winner of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship

Photos by Orizon Carneiro Muniz, Courtesy of Peter Lucas

Draper congratulates Professor Peter Lucas on being one of eight professors at NYU to be awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for 2011. “Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise,” Peter and the other recipients were selected from a batch of over 3,000 applications.

Peter teaches “International Studies in Human Rights” for Draper each fall, but is also affiliated with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) program in GSAS and the Open Arts program in Tisch. When not teaching at NYU, Peter–an accomplished photographer and filmmaker–often works on projects highlighting memory, trauma, and personal narrative in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

It is for one of his photography projects–The Last Hour of Summer–that Peter was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. As he explains on his website, the project started with the discovery of 200 black and white photos that he found and bought at a flea market in Rio:

“Most of the pictures were women on the beach at Ipanema. Although we did not know who the photographer was at first, he took two self-portraits of himself in the mirror. He also dated his pictures on the verso. The time frame of 1962/1963 correlates with that golden period just before the 1964 military coup in Brazil and represents the “Last Hour” before the change.

With some clever research in Ipanema we eventually found people who were able to identify the late Orizon Carneiro Muniz as the photographer. Muniz was not a professional photographer, but a local weekend photographer with a deep love for women and the beach. In an attempt to find the people in the pictures, we mounted an exhibition in 2007 at Casa Laura Alvim on the beach in Ipanema. With substantial press coverage of the show, we finally met many friends that Muniz photographed. Over 45 years later, most of the people in the photographs are still living in Rio.

Among the people we met at the exhibition was a friend who had the remaining photos from Orizon Carneiro Muniz. There were 5000 more photographs. I purchased the photos and negatives in 2009. Using the entire archive as a visual base, we are planning a feature-length documentary film with production beginning in 2011. There are several stories in the pictures but the essence of the film will be documentation and remembrance of those incredible years just before the coup when Ipanema emerged as a global cultural sensation.”

Using Muniz’ photographs, Peter developed a series of exhibitions and also a book (co-authored with Mauricio Lissovsky) called The Last Hour of Summer: The Lost Photos of Ipanema, which is forthcoming from Brazil’s Casa de Palavra press. With the support of the Guggenheim fellowship, he will be able to finish the documentary film that these photographs also inspired.

As Peter explained in a recent article for CLACS, the film will combine several narratives, using Muniz’s found photos as a point of departure to examine the cultural and historical moment of Ipanema on the threshold of the military coup in 1964.

“Using the entire archive for the film, we will then interview other people who will speak on the political nature of these images. The photos were largely taken in the years just before the military coup in Brazil in 1964. Brazilians sometimes refer to this time as the “last hour.” As documents of this last moment before the dictatorship, the photographs evoke innocence, beauty, hope, naiveté, wonder, and youth. The photos also represent the last hour of the classic black and white snapshot before the widespread introduction of Kodacolor film in 1964. Photographic historians and photographers will then be interviewed to speak about the images from the perspective of personal photography.

Spiraling further out, the fourth story involves the cultural history of Ipanema in the early 1960s. While these photos were being taken, Tom Jobim was writing his most famous songs a few blocks away and in 1964, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto would win the Grammy and introduce Bossa Nova to the world. As Americans discovered Ipanema, the first surfers from California arrived in Brazil in 1964 and they began to surf the waves at Arpoador, the first beach at Ipanema. And the final story is how these photos also documented this threshold moment when Brazilian women begin to change in so many ways. Their style, their beauty, and the way they walked the beach would forever captivate the world.”

To see images from The Last Hour of Summer and Peter’s other photographic essays, check out his website: http://peterlucas.net/

Call for Papers: Producing History through Mad Men (Invisible Culture E-Journal, U Rochester)

Please distribute widely

“Where Do You Want Me to Start?” Producing History through Mad Men
Guest Editors: Amanda Graham and Erin Leary

The television network AMC’s historical drama Mad Men, set in 1960-64, premiered in 2007. While the program was slowly accepted by audiences, at least as slowly as its methodical narrative structures, it clearly struck a chord among a cross-generational body of viewers, tripling in size from the first season. In order to engage with the show more fully, fans paraded in Mad Men-inspired costumes during Banana Republic-sponsored events in 2009 and 2010 in Times Square, “Mad Men-ed” themselves online, participated in the series’ Facebook page or the network’s online portals, downloaded period music, or simply watched each episode. The show is a pervasive cultural force within the media landscape, but why does this program—which is situated several decades in the past—have such saliency today? How and why do viewers relate to these characters? How does Mad Men impact our understanding of current socio-cultural environment? How does our contemporary cultural landscape inform how we read Mad Men?

When Mad Men entered into American living rooms, viewers’ lives were characterized by prosperity. One year later, in 2008, America’s nightmares were realized: widespread bankruptcy and home foreclosures occurred, unidentifiable villains and incomprehensible wars became the norm, rhetorics of socialism and communism were brandished by various political factions, racial tensions resurfaced, and technological angst became a part of citizens’ everyday realities and prompted them to question the American dream. These anxieties mirror those of the postwar era in which Mad Men is set and traverse the spacio-temporal boundaries demarcating one period from the other.

Simultaneously, Mad Men asks the viewer to question social progress. When Don Draper and his family leave trash from a family picnic on park grounds, viewers may feel momentarily superior. When Peggy Olson is embarrassed to declare her pregnancy in the workplace, viewers could experience a sense of self-congratulatory modernity. Yet, self-reflective viewers are as likely to wonder if much has actually changed. Highlighting these disjunctures and the functions of history encourages viewers to realize the wisdom of Don’s assertion that, “Change isn’t good or bad. It just happens.”

Why are fans so obsessed with Mad Men? Why this particular show? What does it mean to want to live in Mad Men or be in Mad Men? Do the parallels between the nineteen-sixties (as interpreted by Mad Men) and the events of our contemporary moment serve to enhance our understandings of either era? Does the show’s depiction of the postwar period function as a site of nostalgia by virtue of its status as a present-day consumer product? Or does it perform the productive functions of the outmoded? Are these categories fruitful modes of analysis? How do they position this particular object for a multi-generational audience?

Possible avenues for evaluation include, but are not limited to:

Considering the literary content of Mad Men—books, poems, etc. featured in conjunction with character development;
The symbolism in the music of Mad Men;
Influences of Hitchcock and the imagery of the falling man;
Relationships to other television programs, films, art works, and political events in our contemporary media/culturalscape

Parallels in the relationships between the modern subject and consumption; baby boom, postwar affluence – industry related to death of industry economy – outsourced labor?
Design, broadly encompassed to include architecture, fashion, interiors, graphic design;
Product placement, historical and contemporary;
Advertising analysis;
Viewer reception;
Technology (as reflected in the show, and as a mechanism for the show’s distribution)

Political consciousness and sexual awakening/promiscuity (male/female, gay/straight, pre/extra-marital);
Playing Yourself: Alter egos and virtuality;
class passing narratives;
The representation of homosexuality on screen and historically;
Motherhood; fatherhood
Infertility and class;
Questions of nationalism;
Character/actor “metatext” crossover to other shows/news

We solicit articles from a wide array of disciplines, including communication studies and anthropology, film and media studies, women’s studies, literary criticism, music theory and history, as well as critical race studies and cultural studies generally defined.

Please send inquiries and completed papers (MLA style) of between 2,500 and 5,000 words to Amanda Graham (agraham9[at]mail[dot]rochester[dot]edu) and Erin Leary (eleary2[at]mail[dot]rochester[dot]edu) by March 1, 2011.

Invisible Culture is also currently seeking submissions for book and exhibition reviews (600-1000 words). To submit book or exhibition review proposals, please email ivcbookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com. For a list of reviewable titles, see: http://www.rochester.edu/in_visibile_culture/Reviews/review_copies.html.

Invisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture is a peer-reviewed journal dedicated to explorations of the material and political dimensions of cultural practices: the means by which cultural objects and communities are produced, the historical contexts in which they emerge, and the regimes of knowledge or modes of social interaction to which they contribute.