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The body cost of excellent sheep

(11/23/21 5:00am)

When I was in second grade, I would go to my teacher a few times a week with the bad news that I had bumped my head. I started to feel guilty about lying after a while, so I would sometimes drop my pencil on the ground, crouch under the table and audibly hit my head on the way up. Hall pass in hand, I gleefully made my way down the familiar trek to the nurse’s office. I would lie on the sticky vinyl mat and stare up at the fluorescent lights, eyes lulled to the hum of long fingernails on chunky keys, clutching a Ziploc baggie with the frozen paper towel that seemed to regenerate itself weekly in perfect rendition to the last. In a world where the only certainty was lack of control, at seven I found comfort in that airless room the size of a closet. It was my only option for rest and solitude, a chance to stop the engine I was taught to rev with precision every day in that blindingly-waxed institution. 

Astrology isn't a science, and that's the point

(02/19/21 5:00am)

Growing up in Austin, surrounded by people with names like Indigo and River who forecasted the cosmos before saying hello, I had a complicated relationship with astrology. As I got older, my skepticism grew toward what appeared to be the zany dogma of eclectics who would rather live behind a rose-colored delirium than take responsibility for their lives and face the realities of science. 

Embracing ‘losing control’ through female rap

(10/31/19 4:00am)

My first exposure to female rap was Lauryn Hill’s “MTV Unplugged No. 2.0,” which my mother had on vinyl and would play most evenings after school. I remember feeling that there was something inherently different about Hill, that she held some kind of secret that could only be revealed by letting each interlude play its course — that this kind of music came from a different planet than what I heard on the radio, which at that point consisted of mostly Top 40 Disney hits and the occasional Christmas carol. Even as a kid, I felt something in Hill’s acoustics, something rich in the rasp of her voice. And while she became the first woman to be nominated in 10 categories in a single year of the Grammys, her success did not absolve her from the cultural backlash that female artists have come to know all too well. Because she challenged the basic structure of the music industry and refused to fit the pre-established mold of an up-and-coming star, she was incredulously torn down by the media.

Learning how to do nothing

(09/12/19 4:01am)

I spent this summer in New York, a cesspool of sights, sounds, and — mostly to its detriment — smells. Armed with a class and an internship and living just a few blocks from Union Square, my days filled quickly. Coming from Duke, I was used to this nonstop mindset, this rapid pace of living. It wasn’t until attending a poetry reading at a bookshop on Prince Street that I began to understand what this excessive busyness seemed to be leading me toward. A book with pink flowers on the cover caught my eye, along with its intriguing title: “How to Do Nothing.” While the book first piqued my interest through this attractive promise, the subheading, “Resisting the Attention Economy,” ultimately made me buy it. 

New green space between the Nasher and the Ruby 'will bring art outdoors'

(05/31/19 4:03am)

When the Nasher Museum of Art opened in 2005, its founders envisioned an outdoor space to accompany the art within its walls. In a $1.5 million project scheduled to inaugurate next fall, this vision will finally come to fruition, with an outdoor space and sculpture garden connecting the Nasher and the Rubenstein Arts Center.

Full Frame 2019: 'Where We Belong' director discusses impact of divorce on children

(04/19/19 4:04am)

For its North American premiere, “Where We Belong” screened at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival earlier this month. The film gave viewers a raw look into the lived experiences of young children affected by their parents’ marital troubles. It features interviews with five children on their experiences, paired with ethereal close-ups of their faces, engulfed by intense lighting and music that evokes their specific, complicated and often hard-to-express internal struggles. The documentary gives voice to those who are usually voiceless, largely through their wonderfully genuine and surprisingly mature insights. The Chronicle spoke with Swiss director Jacqueline Zünd via email about her intentions behind the film and what she learned from the children she interviewed. 

Full Frame 2019: 'Midnight Family' explores underground world of private ambulances

(04/15/19 4:15am)

"Midnight Family" follows the Ochoa family, who runs a private ambulance company in Mexico City. Nine million people reside there, but less than 45 government ambulances are running, according to the film. Luke Lorentzen shot and directed the film over a three-year period, and he stayed with the Ochoa family for some 80 to 90 nights in their private ambulance. “Midnight Family” screened at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival after premiering at Sundance earlier this year and winning the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography. The Chronicle spoke with Lorentzen about the Ochoa's business and documenting crisis. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

MFA | EDA student discusses distinction project on ectodermal dysplasia

(04/04/19 4:00am)

Duke established the two-year MFA | EDA program in 2011, drawing in a diverse range of photographers, videographers and other artists. The program's annual thesis exhibition, celebrating the work of the 2019 class, is on display now from March 18 to April 13 around Duke and Durham. It features exhibits at the Power Plant Gallery, the Jameson Gallery and the Rubenstein Arts Center, among other venues. The Chronicle sat down to talk with Jacob Moss, a member of the 2019 cohort, about his project "One Arm Dove Hunt," which highlights individuals with ectodermal dysplasia, which involves defects of the hair, nails, teeth, skin or glands. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Q&A: 'Daily Show' writer Zhubin Parang on his transition into comedy

(03/04/19 5:05am)

Zhubin Parang, producer and writer for "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah", visited Duke Friday for a talk hosted by the Center for Political Leadership, Innovation and Service (POLIS). Before becoming an Emmy award-winning writer and comedian, Parang practiced law after graduating from Georgetown Law School. The Chronicle spoke to Parang before his Friday afternoon talk. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Sundance 2019: 'I Am Mother' challenges relationship between man and machine

(02/13/19 5:05am)

At such a technologically tumultuous moment in time, it seems that a piece of techno sci-fi media emerges from the mind of a technological conspirator every second. As more tech users become suspicious of technology’s increasingly tighter grip, whether it be through fears of Elon Musk-operated simulations or Big Data, this uneasiness is being more frequently expressed through more cynical sci-fi cinema. However, this trope has the potential to be either too pessimistic or optimistic, too prescriptive or unorthodox. With so much media amassing on the issue, it is rare to come across something that strikes a graceful balance. 

Sundance 2019: 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' glorifies serial killer Ted Bundy

(02/06/19 6:40am)

Our culture has always been fascinated by serial killers. Since the phenomenon solidified in the ‘70s, there has been no shortage of killers in cinema (see: "American Psycho," "My Friend Dahmer" or really any David Fincher film); there are even several best serial killer movies lists online. There’s not anything wrong with this natural fascination, but the way these killers’ stories are told on the screen matters. 

Sundance 2019: Q&A with 'Bedlam' director Ken Rosenberg and BLM founder Patrisse Cullors

(01/30/19 5:50am)

Millions of Americans struggle with mental health-related illnesses every year, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, but many individuals are not fully aware of the workings of the mental health system. The haunting documentary, “Bedlam,” which just premiered at Sundance, marks a unique opportunity to shed light on this crisis to the masses.