Links for October 27, 2017

‘Norman said the president wants a pyramid’: how starchitects built Astana

Walking the gaping boulevards of new Astana today, it is clear that Kurokawa’s plan was abandoned from the very beginning. The new city is an alienating place of six-lane roads punctuated by vast object buildings, conceived with a total absence of human scale, making the former Soviet centre across the river feel like a cosy village in comparison. It is a place obsessed with size: Nazarbayev even had the Ishim river widened, so it would have the majesty of other capitals’ rivers, like the Thames, Danube or Seine. If you look at the map, the watercourse shrinks back either side of Astana, only bulging out in the centre of the city, like a snake digesting its lunch.

Culture Track ‘17 Report

For today’s audiences, the definition of culture has democratized, nearly to the point of extinction. It’s no longer about high versus low or culture versus entertainment; it’s about relevance or irrelevance. Activities that have traditionally been considered culture and those that haven’t are now on a level playing field.

With the traditional notion of “culture” no longer being a distinguishing factor, it is up to cultural organizations to reassert culture’s purpose in an increasingly complex world, by powerfully articulating and delivering on their essential impact.

Dear Olive Garden, Never Change

Every time Olive Garden tries to freshen its image, to move away from its cultural role as a punchline for faux authenticity and mediocre mall food, everything collapses. Nobody wants to eat kale at Olive Garden. Nobody wants garlic hummus. We want soup and salad and unlimited breadsticks, we want never-ending bowls of pasta with a variety of sauces, we want giant glasses full of Coke and tiny wine glasses full of plonky reds and fruity whites.