Medal winner in hiding
Proiessor Wangari Maathal, winner oi this year’s Edinburgh Medal ior her services to science in society, has gone into hiding in her native Kenya where she is in iear ior her liie. A prominent opposition activist, she has attracted the wrath oi President Daniel Arap Moi ior her public support oi human rights In Kenya, and he has publicly accused her oi distributing ‘inilammatory material’.
A microbiologist and environmentalist, Proiessor Maathal
iounded the Kenyan Green Belt Movement which, since 1971, has
involved 50,0ili women in planting ten million trees in an eiiort to stem the spread oi desert. Unlike many oiiicial schemes oi this type, the trees have not withered away, but grown into
establist plants. She has been
accused oi provoking violence under the cover oi the Green Belt Movement in an area oi Western Kenya where President Moi’s own ethnic tribe, the Kalenjln, have been encouraged to attack the neighbouring Kikuyu tribe. ‘She has taken her science and put it at the service oi humanlty’, says ian Wail oi the Edinburgh District Council, who award the Edinburgh Medal at the Science Festival. The council is one oi many organisations and individuals to have written to President Moi to express their concern at the threats on Proiessor Maathai‘s liie. It is unlikely that she will be able to travel to Edinburgh to receive her award. (Thom Dibdin)
The programme for this year’s Edinburgh international Festival has been announced and very promising it is too. When Brian McMaster took over as Artistic Director from Frank Dunlop eighteen months ago. he was left with only live months to put his first Festival together. At the time he made no apologies for it — and indeed it was not without its strengths — but whether it‘s because of extra time orjust the lessons of experience. his 1993 programme ( i5 Aug—4 Sept) has more balance and more colour.
McMaster's collector‘s instinct is still alive and well in a programme that includes retrospectives ofJames MacMillan. Schubert. Janacek. and playwright Jakob i.en/. btit he has avoided the all-or-nothing trap that led to last year’s (‘.P. Taylor and Harley (iranville Barker monopolies. The director's commitment to Scottish artists is exemplary; not only can we
McMaster comes into
Julius Caesar, directed by Peter Stein: 1993 Edinburgh international Festival highlight
hear almost the complete works of James MacMillan (including a new chamber opera co-produced by the Traverse). but also there are major contributions from the Citizens” Theatre. Scottish Opera. the S(‘(). TAG (with all three parts of its A Sears Quuir trilogy) and Jimmy Logan with a re— creation of SOs-style Scottish Variety.
Fans of modern dance and folk-rock will be delighted to see the Mark Morris Dance Group and Michelle Shocked sharing the same stage. albeit in an otherwise thin dance programme. Theatre fans better start saving up now for productions by four of the world’s leading theatre directors: Peter Sellars. Robert Wilson. Peter Stein and Robert Lepage. And lovers of photography have a rare chance to see New York’s Metropolitan Museum's magnificent round-up of a hundred years of camera- work. (Mark Fisher)
_ Out in Scotland
Writers. artists. campaigners. people familiar with the scene and those not — the April issue of (iuv Times has
devoted twenty pages to a special look
. at the diversity and vitality of gay
‘ culture in Scotland. ('oming at a time
when the national media is still too narrow-minded to see beyond the negative aspects of Fettesgate. the ‘gay magic circie'. tales of blackmail and the like. the feature celebrates the more uplifting side of lesbian and gay life north of the border.
‘Gay Scotland: Passion. Politics and Pride' includes articles on the ongoing work of Scottish Aids Monitor. an overview of lesbian and gay contribtmon to the arts in Scotland and a preview of(iiasgay!. a festival planned for November this year. (AM)
4 The List ‘) 22 April I993
Serb photo controversy
An exhibition containing disturbing photographs oi wartime atrocities against Serbs has been postponed in Edinburgh amid allegations that some of the pictures may be staged
propaganda shots. A Selective Silence,|
due to have transierred this week to the 369 Gallery, contains photographs irom a larger exhibition in Belgrade that were banned irom entering Britain by the Department oi Trade and industry earlier this year.
‘i find the claim that these photographs are staged ridiculous, ior it implies that the Serbs would have killed all these civilians in order to mount an atrocity exhibition,’ argues Joan Phillips, the Living Marxism journalist who smuggled the pictures into Britain and whose iirst-hand examination oi iiim negatives and video evidence convinces her oi their validity. ‘There are masses of people being killed in this war without having to stage photographs.’
A Selective Silence will be part oi a larger exhibition at the 369 Gallery, which includes work by Paul llackett, winner oi the Observer Award According to the gallery, the delay is due principally to the iact that one oi the photographers would not be able to attend the opening, but the show is now scheduled to go ahead on 18 April. However, opponents oi A Selective Silence believe that the images have been iabricated as a public relations exercise to counter the widely reported instances oi Serb’ aggression in Bosnia.
‘Why is it that people are all oi a sudden asking questions about these particular photographs?’ Phillips continues. ‘You never hear the same questions asked about photographs oi alleged Serbian atrocities. What we are trying to do is very simple: iirst oi all, to make the point that it’s important to take a stand against censorship oi any sort; secondly, to draw people’s attention to the iact that we are only getting one side oi the story about this war. As iar as i’m concerned, in terms oi content, there’s nothing to distinguish these photographs - they are photographs oi dead civilians who are victims oi a very bloody civil war.’ (AM)
__ Stamping back
Controversial Australian skinhead movie Romper Stamper may still play in the West of Scotland. despite an eleventh hour ban by Glasgow District Council's licensing committee. The lilm was due to open at Glasgow Film Theatre on Sunday 4 April. but after a private screening. six councillors decided to veto the screenings ‘because of the level of violence and use of knives. in accordance with the council's backing of the Operation Blade campaign'. At the time of going to press. the [TI (‘Iydebank was negotiating with the film's distributor. Medusa Pictures. over a possible opening on Friday in April. as (‘ly'dcbank lies outwith the GDC's remit.
The film is the first to be denied a certificate in the city since Life (g/‘Briun
in 1987: a long-standing ban on Ken Russell's The Devils was reaffirmed three years ago. but moves to ban The Last Temptation off/iris! in 1988 were eventually abandoned. The fact that all three are widely available on video in the city and that Romper Stamper is due fora video release in the coming months surely calls the effectiveness of the Council's actions into question.
(ilasgow (‘ity Council's history of exercising its powers over the cinema is unique in Britain. Romper Stamper — which admittedly contains scenes that many will find disturbing — was critically acclaimed when it played the 1902 iidinburgh international Film Festival. and it has been awarded an (18) certificate by the British Board of Film Classification. The Council's dabbling in film censorship now turns the movie into something of a muse t'elehre. and may well end up encouraging people to go and see it for the wrong reasons. As another example of the current backlash against violent images in culture. the ban continues a worrying trend of blaming the messenger rather than addressing the problems themselves. (AM)
No to water sell-off
A resounding ‘no’ to privatisation is the answer the Scottish Diiice has received irom bodies responding to its consultation paper on the future oi Scotland’s water. Only iive submissions (0.7 per cent) irom a total oi 676 irom public and private businesses iavoured private sector ownership oi the country’s water and sewage services. Another 4057 submissions were received irom
members oi the public.
The survey also shows that the Scottish Conservative groups who responded are overwhelmingly opposed to privatisation, with Dumiries Constituency Conservative Association calling such a move ‘political suicide’. Voices oi protest have come irom various other sectors, including The Malt Distillers’ Bulletin, which is concerned that interierence with water supplies could have detrimental eiiects on the unique ilavours oi Scotland’s malt whiskies.
Meanwhile, in England and Wales, household water bills are due to rise an average oi 8.2 per cent next year, with sewage bills going up 9 per cent, more than iour times the rate oi inilation. (AM)