Arts and Literature | Wilson Center

Arts and Literature

Bringing New York to the Broadway Stage

In 1987, two very different reviews of the state of New York City appeared almost simultaneously. The first was a report issued by an ad hoc Commission on New York in 2000 chaired by Robert F. Wagner Jr., who was the son of the city’s beloved three-term mayor and grandson of a popular New York Senator, and was himself deeply involved in city affairs and a chair of the City Planning Commission. The second review was a special issue of the distinguished leftist journal Dissent edited by author and journalist Jim Sleeper.

A Problem of Perception: How to Promote a Modern Ukraine

Art-project "Depersonalization." Kiev, Ukraine. Photo by Ruslan Kapral, some rights reserved.

Contemporary North Korean Art: The Evolution of Social Realism

The art of North Korea remains largely unknown to the outside world, apart from kitschy propaganda posters sold to tourists. And yet, art is huge in North Korea, where the state-run Mansudae Art Studio is home to the world’s largest government-supported art community. In a country where propaganda is paramount, the question looms: Is there “art for art’s sake” in North Korea? Is all of the art produced in North Korea entirely propaganda? And what can we learn about North Korea and party policy from the artwork produced at the state’s behest?

Engaging the Arts for a Vibrant, International Ukraine

Jamala's victory at the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest reminded the Ukrainian political class of the critical role arts and culture play in foreign relations and their unique ability to promote national interests. Ukraine’s culture holds tremendous potential to counteract what many perceive as a growing “Ukraine fatigue” in the West. To what extent do Ukraine's political and economic elites grasp this possibility and have a strategy?

Preserving Cultural Heritage in Armed Conflicts

The ongoing armed conflicts in the Middle East have caused severe damage to the region’s cultural heritage. Despite the challenges, great joint efforts have been made between local heritage professionals and the international heritage community. Such efforts demonstrate creative approaches to preserving cultural heritage in conflict zones, and illuminate the future of more efficient international cooperation.

Feasts for Eyes Too Blind to See: Destroying Communities in the Name of Ideology

The end – as Nomvuyo Ngcelwane would recall decades later in her memoirs Sala Kahle District Six: An African Woman’s Perspective – proved to be unremarkable. One early October day in 1963, an ungainly truck rumbled up to 22 Cross Street in Cape Town’s District Six, in the heart of one of the most diverse neighborhoods on the African continent.

The Last Folio - Art Exhibition

Last Folio is an exhibition from the celebrated Slovak/ Canadian artist and photographer Yuri Dojc and film producer Katya Krausova. Last Folio is an iconic collection of images reflecting their joint, decade-long journey through Slovakia. The stunning photographs in this exhibition show remnants of a lost world- abandoned buildings and synagogues- disintegrating books left on the shelves in a Jewish school in Eastern Slovakia - the school children, their teachers and their families were all deported to concentration camps on the same day in 1942.

Lyudmila Ulitskaya: Telling Stories, Documenting History

Internationally acclaimed Russian writer and public intellectual Lyudmila Ulitskaya talked about two of her latest novels. “The Big Green Tent,” just translated into English, describes the Soviet 1960s generation – people who had to choose between the voice of conscience and self-preservation. Her new novel, “Jacob’s Ladder,” is a family saga, where storylines of the early and late 20th century gradually converge, as they draw from a hundred years of Russia’s history.

Conflict and Cultural Destruction: Why Totalitarian Regimes Seek to Destroy Historical Memory

Evoking memory of the Nazi onslaught on cultural icons, the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan statues and ISIS's pillaging of pre-Islamic sites has horrified contemporary observers and raised new concerns about the ways certain regimes seek to destroy historical memory. At the same time, new narratives of cultural persistence and survival are emerging, such as Romanian efforts in the Cold War to circumvent censorship through theatre, or contemporary ways to counter hardline censorship of Persian literature in Iran.

Down By The Riverside: Jazz Over the Volga

The quiet Russian provincial city of Yaroslavl would hardly appear to be a hotbed of jazz.  Located around 160 miles north east of Moscow on the Volga River, the city retains a charming historic center shaped by Catherine the Great’s planners in the eighteenth century, and embellished by the region’s wealthy merchants in the nineteenth.