Posts Tagged ‘Adam Sherwin’

Rapper Fab 5 Freddy to Host Beeb Film on Renaissance Art

January 25, 2019

More arts news. Also according to yesterday’s I for Thursday, 24th January 2019, the New York rapper Fab 5 Freddy is due to hos a Beeb documentary about the Renaissance. The article, written by Adam Sherwin, ran

Move over Simon Schama, Fab 5 Freddy wants your spot. The New York hip-hop pioneer and former graffiti artist is the unlikely choice to present a BBC 2 documentary on Italian Renaissance Art.

Fab – real name Fred Brathwaite – was approached to do the film, ‘A Fresh Guide to Florence with Fab 5 Freddy’, after the BBC learnt that he was an art lover who worked closely with Jean-Michel Basquiat in the early 80s, curating the cult artist’s Manhattan shows.

“Amidst superstar artists such as Michelangelo and powerful patrons such as the Medicis, Fab discovers groundbreaking images of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society that have slipped through the cracks of art history,” the BBC said. (‘A ‘Fresh’ take on the Renaissance’, p. 21).

It might be a surprising choice, but it seems to be a good one in line with current arts policy of getting different voices to open up the arts. A number of BAME artists have appeared in the news complaining that there aren’t enough Black artists shown in museums and art galleries, and that when they were small they weren’t interested in visiting them because there was nothing for them there. It therefore looks like the Beeb is trying to appeal to a younger, Black audience with Fab 5 Freddie in order to stop it being viewed as just something made by old White guys for White guys.

I am also not surprised that they chose a former graffiti artist for other reasons. Archaeologists have been working with graffiti artists for several years now in order to explore rock art and its links with modern graffiti art. I can remember attending an archaeological seminar at Bristol university at least six years ago in which one of the speakers presented a piece about their research about the graffiti in a particular area of one of the Spanish towns. And Radio 4 a few years ago also presented a programme about rock art which included comments from some of Britain’s leading street artists.

As for the Renaissance, Florence was a major centre of trade and industry, but historians have pointed out in books like The Renaissance Bazaar that many of the commercial innovations that made the Renaissance possible had their origins further east in the Islamic world. This was also a period when Europeans were turning from the Slavic east to Africa for a supply of slaves, so that you do find Blacks portrayed in art in this period. Not that they weren’t here before, of course. A 12th century manuscript from London in the National Archives shows a Black person, while one of the books that used to be stocked in shop in Bristol’s M Shed was on Blacks in fifteenth century England.

I’ve no doubt critics of the programme will decry it as ‘dumbing down’ and complain about ‘diversity’, but this could be a programme worth watching because of the original insights Fab 5 Freddie could bring.

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‘Liar, Liar’ – The Anti-May Pop Song the Beeb Won’t Play

June 1, 2017

Yesterday’s I carried a piece by Adam Sherwin about a pop song against Theresa May that the Beeb definitely won’t be playing. The article reads

‘The BBC will not play a song accusing Theresa May of being a “liar” which has already made the top ten.

“Liar Liar’ by seven-piece band Captain Ska from London, includes soundbites from several of the Prime Minister’s speeches and interviews with the chorus: “She’s a liar liar, you can’t trust her, no, no, no.”

The lyrics include: ‘Where there’s nurses going hungry and schools in decline I don’t recognise this broken country of mine.”

Released last Friday, the song has soared to No. 7 in the Officials Singles Chart midweek update and has made the Download chart top 10. However the BBC said the song would not be included on the Radio 1 playlist or aired during Friday’s Official Chart rundown.

A spokesman for Radio 1 said: ‘We do not ban songs or artists, however our editorial guidelines require us to remain impartial and the UK is currently in an election period so we will not be playing the song.”

Capital FM and Heart have also opted not to play the song.

The band said in a statement: “We’re overwhelmed with the support and our message is that people do have the power to change society if we act together.’

Ordinarily, I’d say the ban on playing very political music during an election was fair. However, considering the massive bias the Beeb has against Corbyn and the Labour party, as shown in their attack on him on Woman’s Hour and the Six O’clock News, the refusal to play the record seems a bit hypocritical. Would the Beeb similarly censor a record if it extolled the virtues of May or Boris Johnson?