Articles on End of year series

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It’s time to look back on a year of art and culture. Blake Danger Bentley. Melbourne street art

2015, the year that was: Arts + Culture

It's another year in Arts + Culture, so in case you missed it we've collected all the best coverage of screen, theatre, music, books and culture in one place.
It’s comforting to think that technology has its limits, that the album persists. Jared Hersch

What music sounded like in 2015

The hard numbers of sales, downloads, streams, and billboard charts seem to do all the work for us. But do these measures tell us anything meaningful about music's nature and value in 2015?
The ubiquitous superhero finally seems to be growing up and moving on. Eneas De Troya

What superheroes looked like in 2015

It was the year of the grown-up superhero. Dark, witty and complex, superheroes on the big and small screen have – mostly – matured past mindless violence.
Art demonstrated it still has the power to inspire, and maybe even change the world. A man carries a self-portrait painted by Australian death row prisoner Myuran Sukumaran. Beawiharta

What 2015 looked like in visual art

There are as many ways to summarise a "year in art" as there are eyes to look at art with. Art had some shining – and not-so-shining – moments in 2015.
There are a number of recognisable roles for spectators to play throughout the day. Jake Nowakowski

Boxing Day Test: sunny spectacle on a stadium-sized stage

Sport plays a key role in an Australian Christmas. Sports matches are akin to creative events: they are dramatic performances with roles and scripts that those who attend regularly recognise and are able…
Retail frenzy is a familiar feature of the festive season – but what about all the casual workers who labour through it? AAP Image/NEWZULU/PAUL THOMPSON

The paradox of work over the festive season

_Yet the workers’ rights cannot be doomed to be the mere result of economic systems aimed at the maximisation of profits. _Pope John Paul II, On Human Work, 1981. Written more than 20 years ago, the above…
Carols by Candlelight is a fixture of the Australian festive season. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Carols by Candlelight defines the Aussie Christmas on the couch

The strange northern hemisphere tradition of the television “Christmas Special” is somewhat alien to us on this end of the world. No Mr Bean with a turkey on his head or fantastically awkward Christmas…
It’s the season for giving gifts - but in a market economy, it’s easy to lose sight of what it means to give a gift. Ben Watkin/Flickr

In a gift economy, what makes a Christmas gift good?

This time every year we feverishly try to find just the right gift for everyone on our list. Merchants seizing upon the frenzy promise more and more for less and less, seeking to awaken desires we did…
Large numbers of people who do not normally attend church still go there to celebrate Christmas. ManImMac

The church has left Christmas Day to the heathen … maybe

In my home city of Melbourne, an extraordinary cultural and religious drama is played out on Christmas Eve each year at the intersection of Flinders and Swanston Streets. Thousands of people mill around…
It seems we’ll never produce the evidence to eliminate faith – or doubt. Jerry Worster

Examine what we know and choose your own personal Jesus

Christmas is bound to produce a few questions about Jesus Christ – as was the case with a recent article on The Conversation on the lack of evidence for a “historical Jesus”. Such questions bleed in to…
Spices and other aromatics have been a driving force in human history. Wikimedia Commons

Out of your noggin? Festive spices and their intoxicating history

Traditional Christmas and winter food and drinks such as mulled wine, eggnog, ginger bread and fruitcakes often call for more than a dash of what Jamie Oliver calls “festive spices” – cloves, cinnamon…
Much has changed over the past 60 years – including how gay and lesbian Australia celebrates Christmas. Hotlanta Voyeur

Families we choose: an Australian gay and lesbian Christmas

I used to live in Brisbane, where, year after year on the afternoon of Christmas Day, a group of older gay men I knew would meet up in a pub. Spending some of the holiday season catching up with friends…
Giving a gift is a complex transaction. So what makes a gift good? MattysFlicks/Flickr

Give and take: the anxiety of gift giving at Christmas

The anxiety attached to gift giving is worth considering. The Christian commemoration of Christmas is about celebrating God’s ultimate gift, his only son. Such an exceptional gift reaches its destiny in…
The earliest sources only reference the clearly fictional ‘Christ of Faith’. Charles Roffey/Flickr

Weighing up the evidence for the ‘Historical Jesus’

Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk the earth? Discussions over whether the figure known as the “Historical Jesus” actually existed primarily reflect disagreements among atheists. Believers, who uphold…
During post-war British rationing, Australians ensured the tradition of Christmas puddings survived. Victor Bayon

How Christmas pudding evolved with Australia

In a current TV advertisement for supermarket chain Aldi, a young traveller returns to his northern hemisphere village and shares his newfound knowledge of the Aussie Christmas. The villagers begrudgingly…
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is released around the world this month. Never mind the top tens, this film will skew the box office stats for 2014 and 2015. Image: John Bell as Bain and Luke Evans as Bard. Photo: Mark Pokorny. Warner Bros

Bad Hobbits Die Hard: how to make a better Top 10 movie list

Tis the season to make Top 10 lists. Why? Because we are hurtling with unavoidable haste toward the end of another calendar year. It’s almost impossible to get through the day without some kind of Top…
We know that social isolation can thrive in the suburbs - so how can we better plan our cities? Scorpions and Centaurs/Flickr

Lonely over Christmas: a snapshot of social isolation in the suburbs

Social isolation and loneliness are becoming common in our large cities. Our cities are sprawling, housing is becoming more unaffordable, people are travelling further and longer in their cars and household…
What blockbuster exhibition will you see this summer? One option is Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament at MONA. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Photo: Rémi Chauvin

We’re all going on a summer (art blockbuster) holiday

I still remember my first blockbuster art exhibition. Two Decades of American Painting came to Australia under the auspices of New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1967. This summer, art lovers can pick…

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