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number 40
the June 1997

News & Letters

pages 2 - 4

Letter from:

Bob Charnes

, U.S.A.

Musicians, dancers, writers, artists, healers: is your calling to teach the Faith full-time through your music or art? Would you like to form a collective and help start a Creativity and Healing Institute...
I would like to network with you in the hope of establishing a project to express a love and spirit that will transform and heal hearts and lives. If the unity of the group is strong enough, this will happen! I am also interested in pioneering new forms and styles of music and art.

I play electric guitar and keyboards, and my musical influences are classical, rock, jazz, new age, avant-garde, and Indian classical.

Anyone who is interested in supporting such a project is asked to

The Peace Pot wheel thrown, carved
and pierced body and raku fired glaze,
by Ruth Park, Australia.

Give and Take by Sonja van Kerkhoff, 1995.
The text "Make not your deeds as snares
wherewith to ensnare the object of your desire"
comes from the Kitab-i-Aqdas by Bahá'u'lláh.
One of the works in the Shopping Trolley Art Gallery.

Letter from:

Sonja van Kerkhoff

, The Netherlands

In an era in which the avant garde is well and truly part of the gallery establishment, in which the outrageous fails to shock because it has become common place, the first show of the Shopping Trolley Art Gallery celebrated the resiliency of art.
Sixty-two artists from twelve countries mailed images to the UK artist, Martha Aitchison, whose gallery was a shopping trolley -the kind often used by elderly women.

A wide variety of media was employed, from hand-made stencils to computer graphics, watercolours, printmaking, photography, collages, and constructions.

The Not At All Private View of the show took place on December 21 in the Bromley Shopping Centre, where not less than 20,000 saw the show amidst a Christmas shopping frenzy.

One highlight, apart from the trolley’s various street and gallery appearances, was its temporary confiscation for use outside the Institute of Contemporary Art in London! The trolley was wheeled up and down in front of some of the most exclusive galleries in London, and it will soon take a trip through the tunnel to Calais (France) for a shopping spree. A small gallery show is usually tied to a particular theme or place, but in this case the trolley’s changing location continually affected the context of the work it displayed, and put art on the move.

Letter from:Jerry Conway, U.S.A.

´Art is an antidote for violence. It gives the ecstasy, the self-transcendence that could otherwise take the form of drug addiction, or terrorism, or suicide or warfare. We have seen that both violence and art -and the beauty which is the center of art- yield the experience of ecstasy and self-transcendence. But art and violence are directly opposite in their effects.´

Psycho-therapist and author, Rollo May, in his autobio-graphical book, My Quest For Beauty.

I agree with the quotation´s view, but the explanation of why this is so seems unclear. Self-transcendence is a big, unclear word. Does it mean going beyond the self to something greater? Does it mean forgetting the self? I think that we turn to violence when we sense that we are trapped and can’t see alternatives.
Art is an antidote for entrapment because it is a work of the imagination and imagination is a font of possibilities. One of the key possibilities of the imagination is the chance to embody, to make somehow visible, that which is invisible. So art can give us an image of rage, an image of love, images of our desire and wishes, and, in giving images of the otherwise hidden dimensions of ourselves, allows alternative actions. Perhaps we are entrapped when we cannot find images of our inner lives, or when we think that one image suffices. We are trapped when we hold to an image of soul, without recognizing its being an image. Idolatry. Maybe I´m just word-playing, but art seems to be engaged in deepening, a discovering of the self rather than its transcending. But I look forward to enlightenment.

Letter from:

Johannes Birringer

, U.S.A.

Art is an antidote to violence may also appear to be a pious wish or a defense. Perhaps artmaking or self-expression is an active defense, in the sense of people feeling entrapped and needing to let the anxiety or rage come out. Of course, not all art is connected to or originates in such emotions. I happen to have seen/experienced a lot more violent art than art that is calm, soft, sober and meditative. Perhaps that’s a pity. On the other hand, we live in violent and often unjust societies, and struggle to make sense of it all, and many experience the sense of powerlessness that art tends to compensate for. In art production over the past 100 years, I can see many examples of art that, by approximating or playing with the power of ideas and the power of art’s role in culture, tends to be involved in the politics of power that some think is the domain of the state or the law or the media or the institutions. We have splendid examples of art in institutions/markets (in opera, theatre, painting, film, and revolutionary art as in Russia after 1919, or in other large-scale social-changes/cultural revolutions, including the totalitarian ones of this century) that participated in political violence, and could thus be called violent because of its will to power (Nietzsche).

Much religious art was also in collusion with state power, and thus played the role of a handmaiden for ideological oppression (not so close to the idea of transcendence, but more intimate with the powers that be. There are rewards for such art. Today the rewards come from corporate sponsors more powerfully than the state). Even on the seemingly innocuous level of “monuments” or “memorials” I would venture to say that there are violent monuments (of hero worship or state glorification). In Germany, there is a heated controversy over the construction of a massive Holocaust memorial in the center of Berlin, and many think the archi-tectural plan for this massive thing is preposterous. Some of you may also have seen the Israeli-Palestinian theatre production and film of Balagan, which treats very critically the use or instrumentalization of memory in contemporary Israel, in a performance that is quite violent and aggressive but justifiably so because of the profoundly unsettling and incomprehensible subject matter of the Holocaust. Remembering can be violent, as we see in the occupied territories.

I don’t know whether it is alright to say that violence in art is sometimes necessary. There have been performances and body art works that were also self-destructive or self-lacerating, and the violence as a real action asked questions about the daily violence we know/consume or don’t recognise, as we sometimes become desensitized to it all. In revolutionary terms, there is also a way to think of resistance against oppression as perhaps a necessary violent act of image making (see the guerrillas of MRTA/Tzpac Amaru in Lima, who are occupying the media and drawing attention to the injustices in their country). I suppose there is no valid generalization. There are so many ways to express and to make art.

Letter from:

Justice St. Rain

, U.S.A.

We would all love to believe that the things we love are beyond corruption. As artists, we want to believe that art cannot be violent, when, of course it can be. I once saw a piece of performance art by a Bahá´í friend, which was so full of anger and obscenities that I felt personally violated. But our rosey view of our own occupation is more than just naive, it is dangerous. If we believe that art is an antidote to violence, then we may blind ourselves to the violence we may be perpetrating in the name of art. Shoghi Effendi did not warn us about the prostitution of the arts because the arts were beyond corruption, but because we can become blind to that corruption when we egotistically believe that art is somehow more holy and pure than every other occupation.
If art, like any other form of work, is not done in a spirit of service to humanity, then it is not worship, and therefore can be just as violent, corrupt and degrading as any other activity.


page 4

New CD by

Luanne Hightower

, U.S.A.

reviewed by Philip Belove

, U.S.A.

The album has range. On the opening cut, prayer, ´Oh Lord My God, Open Thou the door...´ is sung first as an acapela chant and then unfolds into a classic jazz tune. Then the album turns to melodies and arrangements colored by exposure to the brilliant and talented sufi musicians in our area. Bahá´í and Sufi prayers and poems are sung in English and Arabic accompanied by rim drum and Arabian stringed instruments. And these are beautiful arrangments with complex harmonies and they stand as exquisite musical pieces. The Bahá´í selections include The Hidden Word, ´ Love me that I may love thee...´
´ Ya Baha ul abha´ ´ Free Thyself,´ and the Báb's prayer, ´ Say:God Sufficeth.´ There are several Sufi poems, a particularly lovely translation by Kabir Helminski of a work by ibn Arabi, and a haunting chant from the Qur'án, ´ Surah 59:22-24,´ and the album ends with ´Amazing Grace.´


pages 4 - 5

Mevlana: The Whirling Dervishes of Turkey

Review by Daniel C. Orey, U.S.A.

...Kabir Helminski was an extremely talented narrator and translator of much of the poetry, verses and ceremonies. He explained that the ceremony was a ´refreshment of the living soul´ for those performing it, and by all accounts, it was not only the dancers who left refreshed.

The evening began with a brief recitation of poetry from Rumi, after which the themes of the music and choral portions were shared with the audience. The music and the ritual of hirling are true aspects of the mystical branch of Islam, Sufism, and are based on the teaching and writings of the philosopher-poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273) and of the Qur'án. Rumi taught that dance, music and poetry can be avenues to a state of transcendence, and can actually be channels of Divine Grace. The dance as performed here by the Mevlevi, seeks a liberation of the soul, and symbolizes a trip to heaven...

The Mevlevi Ensemble consisted of an orchestra of 13 members, and used Turkish versions of the violin, lute, flute and drum. The ensemble employed eight singers, who sang in unison. The most impressive of these singers, Kani Karaca, besides being one of the two drummers, was also blind. About half way through the 40 minute non-stop musical performance of the first half, he suddenly burst into song, with what the local newspaper critic referred to as, ´such vehement force, breaking the regularity of the music with a free-ranging melody of his own, that sounded like improvisation´. His phrasing and feeling was reminiscent of Spanish flamenco singers, with the intensity of African American gospel singing...

Artist Profile:    

pages 5 - 8

Tina Herslund

, visual artist, The Netherlands / Denmark.

Tina began as an assistant stage designer in her home town of Copenhagen (Denmark) in 1980. Later she worked for the Gladsaxe Theatre as a theatre technician... She then turned to the visual arts...
In 1986 she moved to Amsterdam to study theatre at the Rietveld school of Visual Arts...
During her study she wrote plays, made video, live performances, sculptures and paintings.

In 1991, Tina graduated with a book presentation of her play, Tenminste (if only / at least), her only script that has been worked into a full production...

In 1994, Janny Donker, the director of Loss Theatre in Maastricht commissioned Tenminste and it was performed nine times over a period of two weeks.

J.Bovenberg and W.Merkx perform
Tenminste (if only / at least)
by Tina Herslund.

The story of it began with long space of her own studio, into which a voice was placed. Soon this monologue evolved into a dialogue, and then into one where the two women are sisters who talk -often past each other- about a childhood incident concerning the accidental drowning of their brother...
The performance makes use of a wall of 3 rows of television sets: a total of sixty-three, plus a set at each end of the space, and sand is placed on the floor.
The seating for the audience is at each end of the narrow space so that the audience faces each other and has to look sideways to view the images on the television sets...

Artist Profile:    

pages 8 - 11

LineSync Architecture

, Joseph Cincotta & Julie Lineberger, U.S.A.

Arcade in the Al Turku Headquarters, Sultanate of Oman.

LineSync Architecture designs large and small commercial, municipal and residential properties, and currently employs two architects and two draftspersons. Joseph graduated from Harvard's Graduate School of Design with a Master´s degree in Architecture (M.ARCH). Julie is responsible for LineSync Architecture's marketing, client negotiations, and office management. Before running LineSync Architecture, she worked as a professional international educator in third world countries. The family has been living in Vermont for 8 years, where they established LineSync Architecture in 1988.

Joseph...In 1983, I began my three year stay in the Sultanate of Oman, working for Al Turki...
Seven years later, my design for the Al Turki Headquarters had the honor of being designated a National Landmark in the Sultanate of Oman...

Julie: I am responsible for the marketing and all the office management. Often our tasks overlap both in design and management, and quite regularly on client relations.

I was in the Graduate School of Education, studying and working in the field of International Education. I had travelled many places, working in various settings. In Bogota, Colombia, I started a school in the hillside for children fleeing United Fruit Company violence; in Tijuana, I was part of a group that ran a summer school for street children; in Bonaire, I taught English and Spanish to Dutch businessmen; in Thailand, I ran a 10,000 student education system at the Khao-i-Dang Relocation Camp, working with the International Rescue Committee under the auspices of UNHCR; in the Sultanate of Oman, I taught English and social skills to Bedoin children who had received scholarships to attend the Sultan's private school; in Boston, I worked with a group to open the International Studies and Language High School for the Boston Public Schools.

When we decided to marry and start a business, I took my non-profit skills and switched to profit. It is this unusual background, we believe, that has allowed us to be successful in architecture, at a time when thousands of architectural firms close annually in the States...

With the majority of our clients, the cultural pulls are more inconspicuous. Their lives, and dreams for home design, are influenced by their socioeconomic culture, their career culture, their family structure, their education, the community in which they build, and their self-definition.

More about LineSync at:

or see their profile page on this site: LineSync Architecture

Violin House, Wilminton, Vermont, U.S.A.

The focal point is a finely crafted staircase made of fiddleback maple and tightly strung steel cable: a homage to the memory of the widow´s concert violinist husband.

Artist Profile:    

page 11

Barbara Joyce

, visual artist, the Dutch Antilles.

The Dream, painting by Barbara Joyce.

For former actress Barbara Joyce, art is the stage of the mind. It’s an intuitive process: an act of discovery and surprise that sometimes offers curious clues into the human psyche. As a starting point, Joyce sometimes likes to flirt with the legacies of legendary artists, such as in her collage After Magritte.
Other works have paid homage to artists like Picasso and Chagall. Aside from this theme, her subject matter Is not pre-meditated,and she allows this to evolve as she adds the collage elements.
In choosing the elements for a piece, Joyce intentionally juxtaposes different styles, color schemes and media. Each incongruous collection of objects takes on a dream-like quality, much like the disjointed events and images that occupy your sleeping hours. When she completes a work, Joyce laminates it to protect the piece. Now based in the Dutch Antilles, Joyce acted on Broadway and in television soaps -including the soap opera As the World Turns -before turning to the visual arts 10 years ago, when she began her informal study...

pages 11 - 12

Andrej Lessovichenko, musicologist, musician, Russia.

Lessovichenko is a professor at the Novosibirsk Glinka conservatory. His main field of interest is the relationship between the artist's consciousness and the artist's religious philosophical basis. In 1991, when he became a Bahá´í, he gained new insights into the Christian tradition, which led to his developing another perspective on the history of European music. He talks about this with musicologist Jelena Faal.

JF: Andrej, your perspective on European music culture is based on the idea that what is most important is the religious impulse. How does this relate to the existing secular forms of art and to artists with an agnostic perspective?

AL: Certainly, there are phenomenon and creative figures who have no connection to religion. You would hardly expect a conscious God-searching moment in the works of Prokofjev or Shostakovitch, and maybe Gounod, Bizet or Grieg. But one thing is sure: every great artist comes across existential problems sooner or later, and starts thinking about the essence of being, and it is at this point, whether the person likes it or not, that the artist expresses opinions and world views that have been formed largely by the culture s/he lives in. These positions, in their turn, have been influenced by the spirit of religion, or more precisely, by the chain of religious systems in which religions replace other religions, and each one leaves its traces. If you look at it this way, you can interpret all artistic expression as being the result of religious consciousness - although, one must also take into account the individual artist´s contributions...


page 14

Translation of

O Nightingales by Bahá'u'lláh
by Juan Cole, U.S.A.

page 15


We thought it past -the worst of it
at any rate, thought safe to assume
relaxed positions, mocked safety measures,
cited the sky's brightness as proof of our claim
but that was just ploy -ours and the storm's,
for it was but hiatus, strength gathering
for the thunder to come -and it did!
What then -to what avail our strategies?
What could we firmly erect against it?
Language being the life I have chosen
we talked the night through 'till the storm
outdid its own and our alarm.

How nature vivifies the times and crisis
of the race. At almost winter's ending
well could we ask: 'By spring what will remain,
what of the once approaching comet's kiss?'
Daily the Sun-King dies. In stone and tree,
as in all life, each is urged to see renewal
impelled by cycles of the dying year
of which the spring is celebrant.
"Be! and it is" the Primal Word declairs,
celebrates the death-in-life of human state.
My death confirms compulsion to comply,
renews the storm-kissed, once reluctant.

by Martyn Burke, Belgium.

Marianne Westeneng
Artist Profile
pages 12 - 13

"East Coast," tapestry
by Mary-Anne Westeneng,
New Zealand.

BeTep (wind), drawing by Mikhail Kobyakov, Belarussia.

The Healing

for Amanda

Do you remember telling me you have babies
living in your stomach?
They talked to you at night, frightened you,
and when your tummy hurt you cried,

"My babies are kicking. They want to be born."

We learned it was milk that pained you,

milk that burned your stomach and clogged
your throat with phlegm.
And we learned, as you begged us
to let you drink it, how desire intensifies
for the things that harms us.

Do you remember how you stared at the faces
of the lost children on the milk cartons?
How many times you asked, "Who are they?
Why can't they go home?" as you pleaded
every day for milk, till I turned and screamed at you to stop.

I pray for your babies - how they fill you
like one of those Russian dolls,
each fitting inside the body of one
whom came before, each having the children
of her children within her, all waiting to be born
or to be found, and needing to be healed.

by Peter E. Murphy, U.S.A.

Drawing by  
Claire Janssen,  
The Netherlands.  


page 15

Mirabai: The rebellious Rajput Rani: Part 2

by Bill Garlington, U.S.A.

...What her poetry does do is express these themes in a powerfully personal way that breaks through and beyond a theologically correct, yet emotionally superficial style. Her own feelings of pain and alientaion as a rebellious female in a male dominated culture are no doubt one of the main forces at work here. Her calls to her beloved are not just idealized abstractions but spring from the deep felt pain of her own existence.

Throughout her poems Mirabai refers to her impossible marriage to Krishna and all of the pain and joy of self-surrender that this union includes. There are also numerous references to the illusion of existence (maya), the pointlessness of philosophical speculation and the meaninglessness of caste and family identity. For example in one poem she sings:

That Dark Dweller in Braj (Krishna)
Is my only refuge.
O my companion (husband)
Worldly comfort is an illusion
As soon as you get it, it goes.
I have chosen the Indestructible for my refuge
Him whom the snake of death
Will not devour.
My Beloved dwells in my heart
I have actually seen that Abode of Joy
Mira's Lord is Hari (Krishna), the Indestructable.
My Lord, I have taken refuge with Thee
Thy slave.

Photographs and Illustrations of work by

Mary-Anne Westeneng, New Zealand, Tina Herslund, The Netherlands, Egle' Surkyte, Lithuania, Mikhail Kobyakov, Belarus, Claire Janssen, The Netherlands, Kazimierz Wieckowski, Poland, Keike Twisselmann, Northern Ireland, Sonja van Kerkhoff, The Netherlands, Barbara Joyce, The Dutch Antilles, LineSync Architecture, U.S.A., Annemiek Verstappen, The Netherlands, Ruth Park, Australia.

Translations, editing, co-ordination by:

Kathleen Babb, Japan, Alison Marshall, Aotearoa / New Zealand, Steve Marshall, Aotearoa / New Zealand, Sonja van Kerkhoff, The Netherlands.

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
http://Bahá´í     email: