Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why it Pays to Visit London's Free Cultural Arts Venues

An English Professor's Brush With Fame--so should read the headlines after my afternoon in London. So there I am, minding my own business, looking at a painting of WWI Generals at London's National Portrait Gallery off Trafalgar Square, when who should stroll by me but the one and only Keira Knightley with her beau of late Rupert Friend. It took all the restraint I could muster NOT to bother her for a photograph, but she was having such a good time with boyfriend and other family that I just did what all the other Londoners did, turned around and went on my merry way.

More important at this key London visual treasure trove are TWO exhibits currently on view and FREE--we will soon have a field trip to investigate them, but you are free to examine them on your own. One is called Between Worlds and features around a dozen image profiles of early visitors to England from across the planet; the second, no less profound, is People, Portraits and Abolition, honoring the 200th anniversary of England's eradication of the slave trade. When and if you visit these galleries keep in mind issues of representation and ethnicity; moreover, think about the relationship between what you see in these galleries (Keira Knightley excluded) and present cinematic representations of "exotic" foreigners and "aliens."

Dr. William A. Nericcio
Professor | Anthropology 493
London, England

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