Chris Orr, Divine Comedy – not waving but drowning (2018)

chris-orr-divine-comedy-not-waving-but-drowning“As part of the ongoing Academicians in Focus series, The Miserable Lives of Fabulous Artists exhibition presents around 28 new unique works on paper by Chris Orr RA. His eclectic range of subjects includes some of the great names from art history, such as John Constable, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Frida Kahlo, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso, all of whom he depicts using a characteristically humorous visual language. With extraordinary attention to detail, Orr portrays each artist in a scenario that elaborates inventively around well known elements of their life and art.

“‘Artists have a lonely job and success is often elusive,’ says Orr. ‘Life in the studio is not all it’s cracked up to be, but it is there that dross can be turned into gold. Each of my Miseries is subjected to the cliché and reputations that haunt them.

“‘In his paintings and etchings Reginald Marsh gave us a vision of a dystopian ‘utopia’ in Manhattan and on Coney Island Beach. […] There are photographs of Marsh drawing at Coney Island, dressed in a grey flannel suit – a very different outfit to the holidaymakers. He stands like Dante on his epic journey, observing the bodies of the tormented souls around him.'” — Artwork description from Royal Academy Shop

See more of Chris Orr’s work on his website.

Contributed by Claudia Rossignoli

Tenth Circle Record Label

Tenth-Circle-Record-Label-2011“With a focus squarely on the more underground elements of house, techno and electronica, Tenth Circle will be bringing previously unknown names to the attention of the dance music community in 2011 and beyond.” — cited from Tenth Circle’s Soundcloud page

Learn more about the London-based record label on their Soundcloud, Facebook, and Youtube.

The Tenth Circle: Cinderford

“When Dante’s Inferno was written all those years ago, the author gave us the most detailed and descriptive account of the nine different circles of Hell.

“Turns out he missed one.

“There are in fact 10 levels of Hell, and whilst the 9th circle is commonly thought to be the worst, the tenth circle is truly horrific.

“And its name is Cinderford.

“Cinderford is a small, decrepit town in the arse end of Gloucestershire, with a population resembling Sauron’s army of orcs from Lord of the Rings. Some of the most bizarre looking human beings, who would not be out of place on a David Attenborough documentary, spend their days roaming the cracked streets in search of something to do.” [. . .]    —I Live Here UK, 2018

Bleak Expectations, The Story So Far, BBC Radio 4 (2011)

bleak expectations season 4 ep 2

“As Volume Four opens, Pip Bin must enlist the help of his former nemesis, Mr. Gently Benevolent, to fight a new evil that is spreading terror and cake crumbs through the streets of London. Then follows a journey to the Underworld, a gunfight at the All Right I Suppose Corral, Harry Biscuit the dinosaur and his many wives, and an epic battle between good and evil on the plains of Russia.” [ . . . ]

“The fourth series takes its inspiration from sources farther and wider than ever before. Episode 1, “A Tolerable Life De-Happified,” spoofs Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — with just a hint of the Hannibal Lecter stories as Pip seeks advice from the imprisoned Mr. Benevolent. The next episode, “A Now Spoiled Life Smashed Some More,” enters a Hell not unlike that of Dante’s Inferno, while Episode 3, “A Wretched Life Made Much, Much Sadder”, takes a trip to America to echo the Gunfight at the OK Corral.”   –Richard McGinlay, “Bleak Expectations: The Story so Far,” Sci Fi Online (2011)

Soweto Kinch’s The Legend of Mike Smith

soweto-kinch-picture-legend-of-mike-smith

The Legend of Mike Smith is a dynamic multi-platform project combining Hip Hop, Dance, Jazz and visual art to explore the permutations of the Seven Deadly sins in modern culture. Written by Soweto Kinch, and directed by Jonzi D it follows the travails of Mike Smith, a young artist as he struggles to navigate his way through a normal day whilst being possessed by other worldly desires and vices. [. . .] The work compares a fantastical world of sin in Catholic texts with a licentious often encouraging attitude towards these things in modern society. Rather than the remote Dantean world of the Inferno, vice often becomes virtue when placed in our contemporary market place, the music industry or political system.”    —Soweto Kinch, The Legend of Mike Smith, 2013

Dante Group, Fire and Security System (England and Scotland)

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Dante Group

Outside On a Billboard, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, England

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Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, England

See also: the 14th century manuscript from North Italy (Genoa?)

Contributed by Dien Ho

Roger Marsh, “Il Cor Tristo” (2008)

roger-marsh-il-cor-tristo-2008“In 1996-98 I was the producer for an audio-book version of Dante’s Divine Comedy, in a new English translation by Benedict Flynn. The reader was Heathcote Williams, and when we came to record Canto 33 of Inferno, I found myself transported by the power and emotion of his reading. It occurred to me that afternoon, that one day I would like to make a musical setting of these verses.
The opportunity to realise this project came last year, when the Hilliard Ensemble invited me to compose something for them, and this was the project I proposed to them. Ugolino’s monologue in Canto 33 is remarkable within the context of the Divine Comedy, in that it is the only time we are given a full account of a personal story: elsewhere we are given snippets or allusions, but Dante does not make time to re-iterate tales he believes we should know already. In this case, the scenario clearly took hold of his imagination: a traitor imprisoned with his entire family, and eventually condemned to starve to death together in their sealed tower. Dante has Ugolino tell his own story simply, calmly and in pathetic detail.
I have begun the drama as Dante first encounters the frozen lake which lies at the bottom of the pit of Hell, cutting a few lines from time to time en route to Ugolino’s story, which I have set complete. My primary concern has been to keep Dante’s words clear at all times, and thus you will find in this ‘contemporary’ music many devices more usually encountered in music of much earlier times.I hope that I have been able to do this without wasting the incredible talents of the Hilliard Ensemble. The challenge for them is less in the notes they have to sing, than in the large number of words which I ask them to enunciate with expression, but also with maximum clarity. And that is my suggestion to you: that you do not close your eyes and let the sound of the music drift over you, but that you accompany Dante on this section of his journey, line by line.”    –Roger Marsh, 2008

The Hilliard Ensemble’s recording
Hear a clip here

Hell’s Half Acre, Lazarides Gallery London, October 12-17, 2010

hells-half-acre-lazarides-gallery-london-2010“Dante: no other medieval author continues to exert such an extraordinary force on the modern imagination. Those who’ve read his Comedia never recover; those who’ve never read him still feel like they know the Inferno, and because it has become such a cultural norm, they probably do know it. At Cambridge, Prof. Robin Kirkpatrick has been undertaking a massive critical and creative engagement with Dante over the past couple of years in a project entitled Performance, as well as a conference at CRASSH entitled Pain in Performance and ‘Moving Beauty’. This year, on October 30th, Performance 2010 will further explore Dante and other texts in a series of performances, music, dance, art and drawings.” [. . .]    —Miglior Acque, October 22, 2010

Contributed by Patrick Molloy

“Paradiso e Inferno” Restaurant in London

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Photo contributed by Ben Le Hay (Bowdoin, ’08)