Pop Culture: Omar Souleyman
A true megastar of the music industry is once again setting foot on European soil these days. And once again, the general public will hardly notice. A few thousand concert-goers will twitch, along with those hanging out in the social media niches where the sound snippets tingle and the stroboscopes flash. The man’s name is Omar Souleyman, he is Syrian and 63 years old. And yes, from a purely phenotypical point of view, he doesn’t remind much of showbiz: the black mustache over his mouth and the dark sunglasses, that would somehow still pass as a Freddie Mercury quote. The keffiyeh on his head, the classic Arabic robe and the e-cigarette he likes to flick on make him look more like a more settled, older gentleman from the Middle East who might work for the local secret service, might be driving a taxi , maybe just sit in the café and watch.
So please pay! Since Omar Souleyman began his recording career in 1994, he has released close to 500 live and studio albums. This information is not guaranteed because many of them appeared on cassette. When Souleyman played his music (a blend of his homeland’s traditional wedding music called “Dabke” with electronic means, plus singing in Kurdish and Syrian and Iraqi Arabic) at festivals, it was simply recorded, dubbed and – bang! – sold. The currency of views on YouTube is already harder today. And there is the count of his most famous song “Warni Warni”, which does not sound fundamentally different from most of his songs, namely like world music on a lot of energy drink, at 116 million.
Omar Souleyman has worked with Björk (2011), DJed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony (2013), played music at Balenciaga’s after-party at Paris Fashion Week (2022) and seen the inside of a prison (2021): In Turkey, where he has been running a bakery near the Syrian border in his homeland since the beginning of the civil war and has been supplying bread to refugees, he was accused of being a member of the Kurdish organization PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization. After a few days he was released without charge – perhaps because he either drove the guards crazy with his sound or made them dance. And so, on Sunday, Souleyman will do the same with visitors to the Danube Festival in Krems do, then in May and June with his concert guests in the Netherlands, France and Belgium. Moritz Baumsteiger
Exhibition: “Ooooooooo-pus” in the Haus der Kunst
What Katalin Ladik has dared to do as an artist is loud, big, unmistakable. Actually. But the avant-gardist born in 1942 in Novi Sad in the former Yugoslavia, no matter how groundbreaking she was as a radio presenter, actress, writer, dancer and poet, she was like so many of the conceptually working artists of the post-war years, whose work was not permanently in galleries , exhibition halls and museums. Then came the Documenta 14 and the art world not only marveled at the collages for which, among other things, they had cobbled together Burda patterns. Delicate cardboard, snippets of language mixed into unmistakably feminist visual art. Now the Munich house shows the Art with “Ooooooooo-pus” (until September 10th) a first comprehensive retrospective, the title of which the universal artist asks to be pronounced with pursed lips. In addition to the photographic experiments, the sketches and concepts, the big surprise is a brightly colored fantasy strip in which Ladik also appears. Katalin Ladik will also perform herself on July 14th and 15th together with the composer Svetlana Maraš. Catherine Lorch
Early music: “Polyphonic Masses” by Ludwig Daser
The Belgian Huelgas Ensemble, founded in 1971 and directed to this day by Paul van Nevel, is not always the most exciting but perhaps the most solid in the early music business. Sometimes he makes surprising discoveries. After all, who knows, for example, Ludwig Daser, the Munich master of vocal polyphony and predecessor of the great Orlando di Lasso? Daser had to leave because he turned away from the church and indulged in Protestantism. He was warmly received in Stuttgart. The heavenly music of Daser is unaffected by questions of faith, and this is also true for most listeners today. Even those who do not know exactly what Renaissance polyphony is all about can be enthusiastic about the expansive spatial sound of this music. It lets the listener float away into a better world (published by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi). Helmut Mauro
Art History: “The Story of Art Without Men” by Katy Hessel
Museums in Paris, Hanover, Munich and Enschede have just done something that was unthinkable 30 years ago. You have dedicated individual exhibitions to women painters: the Bolognese baroque master Sofonisba Anguissola, the black protest painter Faith Ringgold, the militant Paula Rego, Etel Adnan, who oscillated between Orient and Occident, and Charlotte Salomon, who was murdered by the National Socialists. Women are currently in vogue in the art world, as the legendary critic John Ruskin proclaimed in the 19th century: “No woman can paint” and “A woman’s mind is… not imaginative or creative.” The still popular “History of Art” by Ernst Gombrich did not know a single artist in 1950, the 16th edition names one.
Nevertheless, since the Renaissance there have been painting, sometimes enormously successful women. If you want to get to know them, Katy Hessel will help you with her grandiose and spirited “History of Art Without Men”. Thankfully, the Piper publishing house has kept the original title for the translation (512 pages, 32 euros). From 2015 onwards, Katy Hessel presented an artist online every day, and her “History” now provides short portraits of artists in understandable, enthusiastic language. A central image is always depicted and interpreted, art history cannot be better.
Katy Hessel implants the portraits in a continuously ordering chronology, starting in the university city of Bologna (“a pioneer in terms of women’s employment”), via Artemisia Gentileschi, Rosalba Carriera to the Impressionists, who were able to study anatomy on living models for the first time. Since then, the number of female artists has increased overwhelmingly. Katy Hessel looks beyond Europe early on, never forgets the political and social framework, including sexual orientation, and is never dogmatically anti-male in her enthusiasm. You can also amaze in every paragraph and tempt the reader to happily page forwards and backwards. How about Lady Butler, whose pictures of the Crimean War once caused a sensation? Reinhard Brembeck
Podcast: “Celebrity Memoir Book Club”
There are books you really don’t want to read. In the category of celebrity autobiographies, which is very popular with publishers and buyers, these are the vast majority. Hardly any actor, hardly any singer or serious newsreader resists the temptation to print their own stories on three hundred pages of paper. But just because very few of these smoothed-out life stories are great literature doesn’t mean that you don’t want to know what’s in them. New York comedians Claire Parker and Ashley Hamilton do the tedious reading for you. In your podcast “Celebrity Memoir Book Club” they have been discussing a celebrity book every week since 2020. What do Mariah Carey, Prince Harry and Matthew McConaughey write in their books? Surprisingly, why does Paris Hilton really have something to say, and how does each individual Spice Girl report differently about the great global success? You learn a lot about PR, and then some things from the souls of the stars: such as Matthew Perry’s (“Friends”) strange hatred of his fellow actor Keanu Reeves. Aurelie von Blazekovic