Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture.

The Museum of Modern Art, ie MOMA, in New York City has mounted a large exhibition of the work of Robert Rauschenberg which they have titled "Robert Rauschenberg Among Friends". In writing about it Holland Cotter calls it "It Takes a Village to Raise A Genius". Cotter gives some background to fit the artist into his biography: both he and Janis Joplin grew up in Port Arthur, Texas. Cotter continues to detail the social milieu that surrounded Rauschenberg until his death at the age of 82 in 2008, including figures like John Cage, Bryce Marden, Merce Cunningham, Cy Twombly and Jasper Johns. Rauschenberg the friend and collaborator, rather than Rauschenberg the lone artist, is the focus of this exhibition.

Jerrilynn Patton, better known as Jlin has produced an album titled "Black Origami". Jlin had heard that the dance-music label Planet Mu was working on a project about footwork, the club music fascinating participants in Chicago. In fact you had to live on the South Side of Chicago or go searching on the Web to find any of it. According to this article, footwork is deacribed as "relentless, spooky, uptight...like tap dancing on hot coals. Tracks roam around through Alvin the Chipmunk-like squeakiness to dark drum meanderings, from dirge draggings to furious cyclones of sound. It's demanding, it's infuriating, and eventually it grabs you and won't let to. Try it out here and decide for yourself.

From art and music, we move to clothing and bacteria, as researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) use bacteria to absorb sweat in clothing. The research is called bioLogic and it was recently reported in the journal Science Advances. MIT describes "a breathable workout suit with ventilating flaps that open and close in response to an athlete's body heat and sweat."

Two women make their mark at the Venice Biennale. One, Michal Cole, an Israeli-born artist now working in the U.K., uses men's ties in clothing to comment on patriarchal ties in society. Cole employs 27,000 of these items of male power as what she calls "a silent embroidered scream" against global male dominance. She has sewn them together, covering furniture and faces, lining the walls of fireplaces and tiles. As Cole herself tells it, "these ties have seen every celebration, every stage of human life. They've witnessed deals, they've been to prostitutes, they've been to the pub, some of them have blood and dried vomit on them. I found a tie that had earth inside the lining, like someone was buried in it." Cole's tie room, or padded cell as she calls it, was made with the collaboration of artist Ekin Onat, whose own project focuses on brutality in Turkey. Onat is a former ballet dancer now working to expose political injustices by Erdogan and his forces. She will put on a performance piece as part of "Objection: The Pavilion of Humanity", created by herself and Cole. During a 6-month period, Onat collected some 300 pages of an internal police log documenting violence against Turkish citizens, including data on imprisonments, detention, purges and arrests by the state-sanctioned goverment. Her family has already left Turkey; she herself is expecting to exile.

A more complete view of the Venice Biennale, can be seen at this Guardian site, including a slide show of many of the offerings. Since there are thousands of exhibits, you really only get a taste of what is on show, but that is also the experience of visitors, who cannot hope to see everything.

Do you want to become the subject of your own personal emoji? Google has made this possible with a new A.I. tool called Allo. Allo is hidden inside a machine learning chat app which encourages you to turn your selfie into a sticker. The app analyzes your face, maps it, and gives you an initial icon of yourself which you can then alter. Supposedly there are 563 quadrillion faces that can be generated, so you can play with your image endlessly. Eventually Allo will produce 22 different stickers of yourself. To make the distinction clear, Google says, "Selfies are, by definition, idealizations of yourself. Emoji, by contrast, are distillations and exaggerations of how you feel."

If you don't know the name of Florine Stettheimer, here is an oppportunity to learn more about this New York poet and artist. Stettheimer, who died in 1944 at the age of 73, is being given a retrospective at the Jewish Museum. She and her sister Ettie lived in New York and used their art to comment on the oddities of urban life. Ettie, who used the nom de plume Henri Waste, wrote novels about female independence and discouragement at the roles offered to women at the time. Florine designed theater sets and costumes as well as paintings. A solo show at Knoedler received only luke-warm responses, causing her to reject a public life in art. She did however create what may be the world's first full-length nude self-portrait by a woman. Stettheimer and Marcel Duchamp were friends: two years after her death, he collaborated on a retrospective of her work at the Museum of Modern Art. In this review by Peter Schjeldahl, he writes of her pieces: "Life as a serving of whipped cream on top of whipped cream functions as a master theme of her visions of determinedly languid and deluxe but also intense conviviality."

You might want to familiarize yourself with the Magazine of the International Child Art Foundation. They have just celebrated their 20th anniversary with an issue of Child Art dedicated to Futures Thinking, with articles like Ride Into Tomorrows, Fun is Good, and Using the Future to Change the Story of Today. Mihai Nadin, one of the authors, advises, "Stay a kid forever. Try to stay as open, as genuinely interested in everything and spontaneous as children."

c. Corinne Whitaker 2017