Each week, GBH News Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen shares his rundown of the latest in Boston's arts and culture with Morning Edition. This week, he discusses a production by Boston Ballet and how the MFA's exhibit on LIFE Magazine brings new meaning to "life."

Boston Ballet: 'My Obsession'

Playing at the Citizens Bank Opera House through Oct. 16

This production at the Citizens Bank Opera House brings together four ballets to open its 2022-2023 season.

The first two pieces were composed by George Balanchin: the coming-of-age story "Apollo" and "Allegro Brillante," which Bowen describes as being “all about physicality.”

The following movement, Stephen Galloway’s "DEVIL’S/eye," returns by popular demand after its Boston Ballet debut earlier this year. Set to the music of The Rolling Stones, "DEVIL’S/eye" reimagines what ballet can be. Bowen calls Galloway “something of an artistic polymath. He’s a dancer, choreographer [and] costume designer, having worked with any number of ballets, not to mention Gucci and Calvin Klein.”

The final piece in "My Obsession" is Helen Pickett’s "月夜" or "Tsukiyo," Japanese for “Moonlight Night.” Commissioned by Boston Ballet in 2009, the “simply gorgeous” duet is based on the Japanese fable “The Woodcutter’s Daughter,” in which the stars of the performance “interact and just find every element of acknowledging each other through dance.”

"At the Time of the Louisville Flood," a 1937 black and white photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, shows people waiting in line in front of a billboard ad that reads "World's Highest Standard of Living: There's no way like the American Way"
"At the Time of the Flood," a 1937 photograph by Margaret Bourke-White, included as part of the MFA's "Life Magazine and the Power of Photography" exhibit
Margaret Bourke-White, © LIFE Picture Collection Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Life Magazine and the Power of Photography

On view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through Jan.16

As a reporter, Bowen says that “we’re so cognizant of imagery and I’ve always been really fascinated by how photography has shaped our collective memory and notion of history.” This new exhibit at the MFA explores that very topic through Life Magazine’s archives of images from 1936 to 1972.

Despite being primarily a magazine for white, middle-class households, Life Magazine covered myriad social and political issues, from the Holocaust to the Civil Rights Movement. As Bowen explains, “they were documenting society. They were reflecting it [...] but it wasn’t flawless.”

Alongside images from the magazine, the MFA has also included work by three contemporary artists who challenge the role of photography and the legacy of Life Magazine. One such artist is Alfredo Jarre, whose work revisiting some of the magazine’s most iconic images “reminds us [of] the power of photography, but how it’s just one image, it’s just one little particular slice of society.”