There remains in my view much to love about the French New Wave, but Godard’s association with it does little to clarify the direction his films later took. Other New Wave filmmakers weren’t nearly as wide-ranging in their interests. During a recent screening of Eric Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse, I was struck by the hermetism of the film’s characters, their cushioned seclusion in the countryside and the limitation of their field of concern to only themselves and each other. I adore Francois Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses, but its references to the Paris upheavals of 1968 serve as little more than atmospheric support for the hapless Antoine Doinel’s stumbling and whimsical misadventures with women. In the years those films were released, 1967 and 1968, Godard was becoming increasingly intoxicated by revolution, until he was eventually compelled to lead a protest against the 1968 Cannes Film Festival in solidarity with the general strike in Paris. “We’re talking solidarity with students and workers,” Godard barked. “You’re talking dolly shots and close-ups; you’re assholes.”

Documenta 15 has its own historical repetitions to deal with. Germany’s twentieth-century war crimes and genocide hovered over the show from the start, prompting nearly daily flagellations in the press over allegations of antisemitism. Certainly, there are outstanding issues to be addressed with Documenta 15, especially regarding several decades-old, pernicious caricatures, two of which were removed from view in June. While such images offend, isn’t it the very nature of an archive to be made up of what it actually contains, in order not to devolve into a cherry-picked, or censored, collection of select historical documents? All of this preceded Hito Steyerl’s withdrawal of her artwork in early July, an act that may have been aimed at hastening the necessary conversation. Nevertheless, Steyerl’s vanishing act appears to have had little lasting impact, which is curious given that she is not just one of the only German citizens participating in Documenta 15, but a prominent artist with non-European ancestry. Silence from the mainstream German press also greeted a communique sent from the Brazilian-Jewish cultural center Casa do Povo [The People’s House] on July 20, which stated that while they were not ultimately invited to participate after an initial visit by ruangrupa, they were still involved and supportive of Documenta 15’s “unique, decentralized community of artists, friends.”

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Within this longer arc, culture wars are not “distractions,” as some people believe, meant to deflect our attention from more serious issues. Rather, they are powerful base-building vehicles for political organizing, fundraising, and media saturation. Culture wars purposefully mark some groups of people and communities as polluting, degenerate, and disposable. Again and again, the profoundly anti-democratic notion of a deserving us and an undeserving, criminal them is distilled into an oppressive worldview and translated into governance. It’s the reason the so-called war on drugs, the war on immigrants, and the war on welfare, to name but a few domestic wars that exploded in the 1980s and ‘90s, have been so effective at growing and maintaining the U.S. carceral state and mindset.

Tired of the East receiving those final-hour dollars, West Berlin moved its curfew one hour later. In response, the East pushed its back another hour. The tit for tat became something of a curfew standoff.

A hotelier named Heinz Zellermayer had enough of it. He grabbed a bottle of whiskey and made his case to Brig. Gen. Frank Howley, the commandant over the American sector of West Berlin.

“They need the hours of the night the way we need our dear bread,” Zellermayer is remembered to have said, according to a biography of the family written by his sister, Ilse Eliza Zellermayer.

“Mayhem only comes when the bartender has to say ‘closing time,'” the hotel owner insisted.

Zellermayer said nixing the curfew would be good for the economy and that the freedom of no curfew was an expression of Western values.

The reasons for falling membership are identical to the problems that other gangs are facing, analysts say. Numbers are shrinking because fewer young people see yakuza as an enviable career path, existing members are aging and earnings are shrinking as a result of a number of legal changes that have given the police far greater powers to bring the gangs under control.

And just as in other parts of Japan’s economy, the businesses traditionally operated by underworld groups across the country — illegal gambling, the sex industry, protection rackets, the drugs trade, loan-sharking and so on — have suffered during the downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

Fan’s descent into forced labor began, as human trafficking often does, with what seemed like a bona fide opportunity. He had been a prep cook at his sister’s restaurant in China’s Fujian province until it closed, then he delivered meals for an app-based service. In March 2021, Fan was offered a marketing position with what purported to be a well-known food delivery company in Cambodia. The proposed salary, $1,000 a month, was enticing by local standards, and the company offered to fly him in. Fan was so excited that he told his older brother, who already worked in Cambodia, about the opportunity. Fan’s brother quit his job and joined him. By the time they realized the offer was a sham, it was too late. Their new bosses wouldn’t let them leave the compound where they had been put to work.

Unlike the countless people trafficked before them who were forced to perform sex work or labor for commercial shrimping operations, the two brothers ended up in a new occupation for trafficking victims: playing roles in financial scams that have swindled people across the globe, including in the United States.

Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

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