Jaunā Gaita nr. 155, decembris 1985

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JG 155

This issue contains the thoughts of many people about Krišjānis Barons, who was born 150 years ago on October 31, 1835, and whose single-minded dedication to the work of compiling and classifying the Latvian dainas made him, in Laima Grencione's words, "the most Latvian of all Latvians". Imants Freibergs sees many parallels between Barons' life and our situation in exile, and says that Barons' method of classification by theme is so superior that even the latest fifth-generation computers could probably not arrange the dainas with such economy and logical order.

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga analyzes the meanings of the word "culture" and its position in 4 types of human society - hunting-gathering, nomadic herding, farming, and industrial - describing the gradual separation of "culture" from society until, in industrial society, the arts and society are so alienated from each other that a work of art is probably given a low value if it meets with public approval and understanding.

Rolfs Ekmanis concludes his review of the collection of essays about Aleksandrs Čaks, On the Way to Čaks (Rīga, 1981), compiled by Valdis Rūmnieks. Ekmanis is generally critical of the essays for failing to venture beyond the "party line" on Čaks and even accuses one of the writers, Vilnis Eichvalds, of deliberately misleading readers about the facts of Čaks' life, work, and suffering under the Stalinist regime. The essay by Valdis Rūmnieks, a detailed analysis of Čaks' dramatic poem Matīss, Kausu Bajārs, earns Ekmanis' praise.

Benita Veisberga contributes excerpts from her new book - to be published soon, a childhood memoir, including an account of the destruction of her native town Jelgava by Soviet bombing in 1944. Poetry in this issue is by Elga Leja (Australia), Eduards Freimanis (Canada), Lauma Cenne (Canada), Vizma Belševica (Latvia) and Inguna G. (U.S.A.).

Playwright and actress Baņuta Rubesa is one of the authors and performers of the "spectacle of revenge", This is For You, Anna. The premise of the play is the true story of Marianne Bachmeier, a much-abused and abusing woman who killed her daughter's rapist-murderer at his trial. The play attempts to show how this story is universal to all women, being the product of circumstances that arise out of women's place in society. In this issue, Juris Mazutis reviews the Ottawa performance of the play. It has also been performed in other Canadian cities and at a women's prison. Most recently it was performed in London, England, where the English critic had this to say about it:

This collectively devised piece, ambitious in both form and content, is remarkable theatre - visually cool, distanced and dreamlike, verbally funny, poetic and shocking, it generates a powerful (and sometimes confusing) emotional effect and response. To the click of high heels, the constant hum of a fridge and the sound of a camera shutter this company of four women from Canada entwine the stories of Marianne Bachmeier . . . (Lyn Gardner)

While Baņuta Rubesa is getting recognition for her work in Canadian theatre, Jānis Balodis and Egīls Ķipste are doing so in Australian theatre, the first as a playwright, the second as an actor and dramaturge. Balodis' play Too Young For Ghosts has been performed in Sydney, after successful productions in several Australian cities. We are reprinting an English review of the play's Sydney production on page 43, while Aleksandrs Zariņš contributes his views on the play in Latvian.

Kārlis Ābele has again contributed his valuable synopsis of Latvian arts in exile for 1984. Living as we do, scattered in small groups across four continents, and when even the largest exile publication has very limited coverage of the arts outside North America, Ābele's annual summary helps us keep in touch with Latvian cultural activities around the world. Our music editor, Imants Sakss, contributes a colourful memorial tribute to violinist-pedagogue Voldemārs Stūresteps, while his new assistant, Jānis Beloglāzovs, writes about the recent Fifth Latvian Youth Song Festival in Montreal. The festival was preceded by a week-long Latvian music camp at Mount Orford, Quebec, where luminaries such as Arturs Ozoliņš and Rasma Lielmane shared their knowledge and talent with the young musicians.

Art editor Nikolajs Bulmanis writes about Valdis Kupris, a Latvian artist living in New York, who had an exhibition of his drawings in Rīga this past September. The exhibition was open to the public and was very popular. A fullpage interview with Kupris was published in Literatūra un Māksla. Bulmanis feels that Kupris, given this unprecedented opportunity, could have been much more informative about current trends in art outside the USSR. One of Kupris' portraits of Krišjānis Barons appears on page 6 of this issue. Pēteris Upītis (b. 1899), a leading exponent of the traditional Latvian woodcut and teacher of many of the leading graphic artists in Latvia, specializes in a unique form: the ex libris. 150 of his over 600 ex libris woodcuts were on display in Stockholm this spring, and two of them are reproduced on pages 39 and 40 of this issue. Juris Tārs wrote the article on this display.

Jānis Kēniņš is the author of a tribute to philosopher Karl Jaspers on the centennial of his birth. Osvalds Liepa has interviewed Alberts Upeslācis, the chairman of the organizing committee of the seventh World Latvian Youth Congress. Many of the people attending the Congress will be or have been students at the Latvian Studies Centre of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. This is the only institution outside Eastern Europe that offers a university degree program in Latvian. The Centre's existence is the result of one man's, Dr. Valdis Muižnieks', "patient, tenacious optimism", and this spring Western Michigan University conferred an honorary doctorate upon him in recognition of this achievement. Auseklis Zaļinskis suggests that it is time we Latvians put aside our differences of opinion and also recognize Valdis Muižnieks' immense contribution to our community.

The cover of this issue is by Jānis Gorsvāns.


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