Photo by MiGowa, from Flickr Creative Commons
October 22nd, 2012 | 11:59am

In 1453, when the Ottoman Empire captured Constantinople, Sultan Mehmed II ordered some changes to the city’s eastern Orthodox cathedral, the Hagia Sophia: the altar was swapped out for a minbar, the platform from which the imam addresses the congregation; and four slender minarets were added, among other things. For nearly 500 years the Hagia Sophia was a mosque, becoming, in 1931, a secular museum that enchantingly reveals layers of religious history, art, and architecture.

artist: Eliza Stamps
October 19th, 2012 | 2:50am

Curated by Amy Sande-Friedman

Last month at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Eliza Stamps, with her collaborator Amy Linsenmayer, unveiled the first edition of The Kiosk—a micro, mobile exhibition space that can be adapted to house a variety of art projects in different locations. Rent-a-Grandma, the premier Kiosk installation, on view through November 25, is a cozy interior where visitors can interact with actual grandmothers. This idealized vision of a doting grandmother’s home sets the stage for an environment where memories can be shared and an intergenerational dialogue developed.

October 18th, 2012 | 8:00am

The wrinkled Brazilian landscape passes below me, brownish green through the haze.  Every so often the disordered mountain ridges grow crisp and straight, in parallel, like ribs. 

Then the land flattens, consumed by endless trees to the horizon.  As jungle overtakes the soil, no variety strikes the eye except for rivers:  one, two, three, four, five veins of muddy brown lifeblood, traversing the sleeping green chest of the Amazon.

Beside me sits my traveling companion, my mother, who was born and raised in Brazil.  For the first time in many years we’ve managed to match our schedules to travel here together from the U.S.  She’s eager to show me parts of Brazil I’ve never known. 

Photo by Hannah Gersen
October 17th, 2012 | 10:21am

Cold beer, slippery hands, cigarettes no one (everyone) wanted,

smoke from our burning lungs summoning the night sky,

not-tying the horizon closed until even toothpick jokes

stopped propping our eyelids open and we blinked,

hands slipped, smoke ceased, not-knots loosed the day--

roof, streets, people, trees, all dressed in the bruise of first light. 

reviewed by Kristen Evans
October 16th, 2012 | 3:09am

Between last year's overwrought art-house film by Lars von Trier, Melancholia, and the transformation of Suzanne Collins's dark YA trilogy, The Hunger Games, into a Hollywood goldmine, the end of the world seems to be on everyone's mind in the culture industry. Even novelists like Colson Whitehead and Tom Perrotta can't resist—Whitehead's Zone One examines New York City post-zombie infestation, and Perrotta's The Leftovers imagines how a rapture-like event alters everyday life in the suburbs. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that apocalypse fantasies are bubbling to the surface more rapidly these days.