Alison Schmauch



'Passion' draws emphasis on Jesus' human suffering

The hour is early morning; an otherworldly blue haze swirls over the Garden of Gethsemane. Off in a quiet corner, an anguished man kneels in prayer, his brow and tousled hair dripping with sweat, as he quietly struggles to put to rest some inner dilemma. In this opening scene of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," the anguished man alone in the garden is, of course, Jesus Christ moments before his arrest. Yet what is most striking about this opening scene is precisely how human this Jesus is, how ordinary he seems as he prepares to meet his crucifixion. Indeed, throughout the movie, Gibson's Jesus remains, above all, human -- and it is in so humanizing Jesus that the film is at its most powerful. All of the dialogue is in Aramaic, Latin or Hebrew, seemingly to prevent translation from creating yet another degree of separation between the viewer and the human Jesus. In flashbacks throughout the film, we see non-Biblically based flashbacks of Jesus' childhood again seemingly calculated to humanize him.


'Lateral Thinking' showcases '90s art

Upon entering the Hood Museum of Art's new exhibition of art from the 1990s, titled "Lateral Thinking," one is tempted to conclude, "Art today is abstract and conceptual." An arrangement of mostly peach-tinted tiles on one wall near the entrance -- Byron Kim's 1994 "Synecdoche" -- represents the skin tones of the members of the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. It didn't require a lot of technical skill to create "Synecdoche." As any skeptic about modern art would note, it hardly requires Rembrandt's talent to paint a series of squares in flesh tones. But for all its apparent simplicity, "Synecdoche" does raise a series of complicated questions. Why create such a work?

'04 Senior gift campaign begins

The Young Alumni of Dartmouth Association launched its Senior Class Gift Campaign last night with a party held in Collis Commonground. Seniors attending could nibble on Brie, French bread and chocolate chip cookies, get a free glass of wine or beer from the bar, order a copy of the 2004 Aegis or listen to the live jazz band's rendition of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer," as well as ask questions about the Dartmouth College Fund. The purpose of the party was to "introduce seniors to the Dartmouth College Fund and the Senior Class Gift: show them what we are, how to donate, and why it's so important to have a high participation rate," said Paul Bozzello '04, a Dartmouth College Fund intern. It is important to have a high participation rate because "people are far more likely to donate as alumni if they give senior year," Bozzello said. Bozzello also noted the importance of giving money to Dartmouth as a way of "showing thanks" to an institution that has given them many opportunities. According to the Dartmouth Alumni Office's Web site, it costs about $80,000 per year to educate one Dartmouth student.

Satirist O'Rourke defends Iraq war, criticizes Bush

Noted political satirist P.J. O'Rourke offered a humorous but nuanced defense of the war in Iraq to a standing-room-only crowd in Filene Auditorium Thursday. O'Rourke, who has covered both the recent conflicts in the Persian Gulf, said that he supported the war in Iraq despite the lack of evidence that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Rather, he suggested that the dictator's long record of brutality was reason enough for the United States to attack. "Saddam is a guy who has been murdering everyone he could get his hands on for 25 years," said O'Rourke. He described Hussein's Ba'ath party as essentially fascist and thus an especially pernicious type of totalitarian government."Communists do bad things, but for a reason.


African art exhibition takes comparative approach

White cloth completely covers one of the principal objects on display in the Hood Museum of Art's current exhibition, "A Point of View: Africa on Display." The work is not concealed because it is undergoing maintenance, though, or for any of the reasons that one might immediately imagine: rather, the mask is being covered up because religious taboos forbid it to be seen in the African country where it was made. Barbara Thompson, the curator of the exhibition, said that she chose to exhibit the work in this manner because of increasing concern within the museum world that "the approach we take to displaying objects from other cultures is very different from the approach we take to displaying objects from our own." For instance, while museums frequently display African sacred art without regard to the original traditions and taboos governing how the public should view these objects, Thompson had difficulty imagining that Western museums would treat "say, relics of Christ that were not meant to be seen or touched" in the same way. Thompson added that she found it especially interesting that some African museums treat African sacred art with an equal lack of respect -- Mali's National Museum has publicly displayed sacred art that tradition dictates should not be viewed, for example. Such issues of how Westerners perceive African art -- and what these perceptions tell us about how we view art from our own culture -- are at the heart of what Thompson hopes to accomplish through "A Point of View: Africa on Display." The placement of a Nkisi doll from the Congo, which has literally dozens of nails stuck in its wooden arms and legs, before a mirror also nicely symbolizes the exhibition's focus on perspective. The doll is "probably the most misunderstood item in our collection," Thompson said, as people immediately tend to assume that it's some sort of voodoo doll. "In reality, Nkisi's a good guy," Thompson said, explaining that he is usually used in healing rituals, "but our own pre-conceived ideas based on Hollywood means that people are quick to make assumptions about an object like this." Thompson chose to include a two-headed Igbo figure, which reminds many viewers of the Roman god Janus, again because it allows viewers to reflect on how their understanding of a Roman myth shapes their reactions to an African work. The Western tendency to value purely "native" works of art led Thompson to select a Baga mask painted bright shades of purple and teal, instead of in a traditional black and white pattern. "Both museums and collectors have a history of rejecting or minimalizing works that have used Western materials," Thompson said. More recently, though, museums have become increasingly interested in asking how and why African artists have used Western materials or motifs, rather than criticizing these works for being unfaithful to tradition, Thompson said. The works of art in the exhibition come from various cultures across the continent and were produced at different times.

'Coming of Age' to come to Hood

The second floor of Dartmouth College's Hood Museum of Art remains closed to visitors, sealed off by a tall gray gate. For weeks, though, the shut-off galleries have been abuzz as curators, painters and conservators work to install over 100 grave stelae, vases, statues and other works of art depicting childhood in ancient Greece. These works will be on display for the next three months as parts of "Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past," an exhibition opening Aug.

College purchases land for $4 million

For a price of $4 million, Dartmouth College purchased 53 acres of land on Mount Support Road in Lebanon near Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center this past Friday. It remains unclear what exactly the College plans to use the property for.

Even without beach, 'Hawaii '05' is a success

This year's sophomore family weekend narrowly escaped being titled "High Five." "We decided that name wouldn't have worked, though," said Zach Rubeo '05, who was in charge of coordinating volunteers for the weekend on behalf of the 2005 Class Council. Rubeo remembered finding an appropriate name as one of the greater challenges that the weekend's planning committee faced.