Art Blog: Sève Favre

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This interview about Sève Favre’s recent collection was conducted via email by Art Editor Anna Campbell.

Sève Favre is a visual artist originally from the French part of Switzerland. Sève was introduced to arts from a young age but decided to follow an academic study first: Art History at University. She supplemented her literature degree with secondary school teaching. She continued her education by taking several seminars and workshops in the visual arts, notably at the Ceruleum School of Art in Lausanne. In 2005, she created her first modular artwork and during several years she maintained both careers simultaneously, teaching and private commission for artworks. Today she completely devotes herself to her art practice and promotion. She has been exhibited in Switzerland and abroad. This year, Sève was nominated by Arte Laguna Prize in the installation and sculpture section. Passionate about the concept of integration, she concentrates on transcending the classical boundary between the artwork and the viewer. The main feature of her art is interactivity. The keywords that support her concept are interaction (be together), variation (be different), and activity (be active). Her name for this experience is intervariactivity. Sève can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @sevefavre. She can be reached via email at info@sevefavre.com.

Superstition Review: You frequently talk about your “intervariactive” art as a synthesis of being together, being different, and being active. What attracted you to the idea initially, and how do you continue to explore it through your work?

Sève Favre:

Yes, being together is interaction, being different is variation, being active is activity. At the beginning, I really wanted to break this classic boundary between the artwork and the spectator, especially through the work on canvas. I found it interesting to integrate the spectator in the process of creating the work, which is a continuous process that starts in my studio but then continues elsewhere thanks to the possible appropriation by the public, a process of co-creation, by revealing the different possibilities of the work. Then, I extended this principle to the interactive double digital of certain works, as you can test it here.

These different possibilities, both real and virtual, multiply the possibilities of participation and interaction. For example, from the digital realisations I can create a gif containing the different proposals made by the participants: a collective work, like this one :

All this can then be shared on social media….

SR: The human component of your work is quite striking. Can you explain your process for creating these pieces?

SF: Indeed in my artwork, the human can be the subject of a work, but is above all the vector of metamorphosis of the artwork (real or digital). In our world where the development of artificial intelligence is dazzling, I find it interesting to highlight our fragility with/on human characteristics,  Moreover, by allowing the spectators to intervene directly on my works, I would like to point out specifically human attitudes, such as trust, risk-taking, respect… etc… The spectators are not mistaken because the first question that comes up most often is if I am not afraid of the consequences of their action on my paintings. I don’t believe that this emotion is one day likely to be a characteristic of robots. This is really what I find interesting and important to make the viewer feel: his humanity.

SR: What does your physical workspace or studio look like?

SF: My artworks require different stages; my studio is organized according to them. First of all, I have a relatively large storage space for materials because I mainly work with mixed techniques so I use different types of materials. Secondly, there is an easel workspace which is very practical especially when I work with pastel chalks; I can tilt my easel to manage the dust from the chalks. On a workbench, I can concentrate on measuring, cutting and origami work. And finally, as far as assembly is concerned (gluing the different parts made), I have to do it on the floor so that the canvas is horizontal and stable. And I like to have a cup of tea near me when I work while listening to the radio or music during my time in the studio.

SR: What is one thing you must have with you as you work?

SF: My necessary tool for absolutely every artwork is my favourite pair of scissors.

SR: How has the global pandemic affected your process?

SF: The pandemic had more of an impact on my exhibition schedule. However, it has allowed me to develop the digital part of my work more, notably thanks to my participation in CADAF online (Contemporary and Digital Art Fair). I also remotely managed the setting up of an in situ installation for an exhibition, as I couldn’t travel to London to do it myself. That was a challenge I wouldn’t have considered in the past.

SR: How is your work touched by social justice?

SF: Behind my work there are fundamental concepts of value and participation. The notion of value in my work is linked to the different possible variations. Are they of equal quality? Only the owner or the public can determine this: is it preferable to keep the artist’s proposal, as this visual will have more value than theirs? Would they like to invite a celebrity to interact with the work and then, religiously preserve the evidence… or do they feel that the choice of a relative will be much more valuable? All these questions are much more intimate and personal in scope than the purely economic value, but they are all equally necessary because they challenge the relationship with objects in a world that continually produces them in disproportionate quantities.

SR: What are your upcoming projects?

SF: First of all, I am working on my new website. Secondly, I am preparing a new installation normally for a Festival, but we have a lot of uncertainty about how it will be held in relation to the pandemic. Next year, I will exhibit my installation “Être au pied du mur” at the Arsenal in Venice as part of the Arte Laguna Prize finalists’ exhibition. As this year is special, I am trying to focus on my digital presence; I think it’s important to also highlight the digital part of my artworks, especially with a project of cultural participation in Switzerland.

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You can find Sève on Instagram here and on Twitter here.

Iron City Magazine Issue 5 Launch

Join Superstition Review in celebrating the launch of Issue 5 for fellow Arizona-based literary magazine Iron City Magazine. The launch for their fifth issue will take place virtually on November 7th from 6 to 8pm. Iron City Magazine was founded in 2016 and features the art and writing of prison inmates from across the country. The goal of the magazine is to demonstrate that prison inmates are people (artists, poets, authors) first, and prisoners second. The magazine gives a platform to those whose voices are often see as unworthy of being listened to and shines a light on the good these people can still do for their community. The launch of the magazine will include literary readings of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction, an art slideshow, and a live Q&A.

To RSVP, click here. To pre-order Issue 5, visit the Iron City Magazine website. To support Iron City Magazine, shop their merchandise available on Redbubble.

BIPOC Creator: Antoinette Cauley

This week’s BIPOC creator feature is local Phoenix-based artist Antoinette Cauley. Antoinette is a Phoenix native and studied art at Mesa Community College. She apprenticed with oil painter Chris Saper and is now known for her hip hop and urban-influenced work. Antoinette is an educator and an activist, teaching inner city youth how to paint. Her work focuses on her own internal struggles, as well as modern social issues and rap culture. Antoinette was named best local artist by AZ Foothills Magazine in 2017 and 2018 and was featured in Phoenix Magazine’s “Great 48:48 Influential People in the State of Arizona.” Her most recent project was a portrait of the late poet and novelist James Baldwin, which was transformed by Jason Harvey into a mural on the side of his Ten-O-One office building in the heart of the Roosevelt Arts District in downtown Phoenix. The installation of this mural was in response to the Black Lives Matter movement that took place earlier this year.

Antoinette’s work is colorful and striking. It plays with the public imagination of the black community in a way that exposes the fears that often come with inner city youth. Her paintings  display images of young Black girls in powerful positions with dynamic juxtapositions that challenge the viewers perception on gender roles, childhood trauma and the influence of pop culture on our youth.  It is a brilliant way for a black rights activist such as Antoinette, who works with inner city youth on a regular basis, to shine a light on societal misconceptions that encompass the lives of black youth.

Be sure to take a look at Antoinette’s Instagram, Twitter, and website. If you are interested in finding out more about Antoinette’s personal life and the motives behind her work, check out this interview conducted earlier this year by the Phoenix Art Museum.

Teaching in the Wake of Racial Violence: A Conversation with Carol Anderson, Ayanna Thompson and Mako Ward

On behalf of ASU Humanities, Social Sciences, and Institute for Humanities Research, we invite you to attend this conversation with acclaimed historian Carol Anderson on Teaching in the Wake of Racial Violence. This event will take place on August 12 from 1-2:30 pm Arizona Time. All are welcome to attend this free event.

Anderson is a human and civil rights advocate, an expert on African American history and 20th century politics and the author of the critically-acclaimed “White Rage.” She will be interviewed by Ayanna Thompson, director of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and professor in the ASU Department of English, and Mako Ward, faculty head and clinical assistant professor in the ASU School of Social Transformation. The interview will be followed by a Q&A session.

Don’t miss the chance to share in such a timely and insightful conversation! For more details about this event and its speakers visit the event page here and register here.

Issue 26 Submissions Are Open!

Issue 26: Social Justice, Submissions Open August first through thirty-first 
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Superstition Review is currently accepting submissions of art, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction through August 31st. Submissions are free of charge on our Submittable page: https://superstitionreview.submittable.com/submit

We are proud to announce that the theme of Issue 26, our inaugural themed issue, is Social Justice. On behalf of Arizona State University and the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts, we have chosen to dedicate this issue to work that promotes inclusion and explores new ways to dismantle racial and social inequality. We believe in the importance of magnifying voices that have been traditionally undermined by our histories, institutions, policies, laws, and habits of daily life.

We hear you and are here for you on your journey to inspire change through art.

What Is Social Justice?

Social Justice is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “Justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” It is a movement for change to improve the lives of individuals who are not treated fairly or justly in our society. It is a choice to stand as a community in support of what we believe in.

We believe that everyone deserves an equal chance, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, religion and any other part of who they are.

To read more about our commitment to structural change, read our college’s Response to Structural Racism and Violence.  

#ArtLitPhx: Art For Justice Reading: Natalie Diaz

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Date: THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2019
Time: 7:00PM
Location: University of Arizona: Poetry Center, 1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85719

Event Details:
We are proud to present Natalie Diaz, who will read from her work commissioned for the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice grant.  After the reading, there will be a short Q&A and a book signing.

The University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Art for Justice grant funds a three-year project that will commission new work from leading writers in conversation with the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, with the goal of creating new awareness and empathy through presentation and publication.  In particular, through the work of leading poets, the project will seek to confront racial inequities within the criminal justice system to promote social justice and change.  Learn more about the project.

About the Author:
Natalie Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, and a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, as well as being awarded a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University.

#ArtLitPhx: Art For Justice Reading: Patrick Rosal & Evie Schockley

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Date: THURSDAY, MARCH 21, 2019
Time: 7:00PM
Location: University of Arizona: Poetry Center, 1508 E Helen St, Tucson, AZ 85719

Event Details:
We are proud to present Patrick Rosal and Evie Schockley, who will read from their work commissioned for the Poetry Center’s Art for Justice grant.  After the reading, there will be a short Q&A and a book signing.

The University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Art for Justice grant funds a three-year project that will commission new work from leading writers in conversation with the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States, with the goal of creating new awareness and empathy through presentation and publication.  In particular, through the work of leading poets, the project will seek to confront racial inequities within the criminal justice system to promote social justice and change.  Learn more about the project.

About the Authors:
Patrick Rosal is a writer, musician, and interdisciplinary artist. He is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Brooklyn Antediluvian, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize. A featured performer across four continents and at hundreds of venues throughout the U.S., he has received residencies from Civitella Ranieri and the Lannan Foundation, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the Fulbright Program. He is a Visiting Associate Profesor at Princeton University and Associate Professor at Rutgers University-Camden.

Evie Shockley is the author of semiautomatic (2017), winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the LA Times Book Prize. She has published four other collections of poetry—including the new black (2011), which won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award—and a critical study, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry (2011). Her other honors include the 2015 Stephen Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry and the 2012 Holmes National Poetry Prize. She is spending 2018-2019 as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Shockley is Professor of English at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

 

Guest Blog Post, M.L. Rio: We Shall Overcome (Someday?)

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The Vietnam War is closer to home for me than it is for most twenty-somethings in 2018, probably because our schools tend to gloss or ignore the conflict. What I remember of my American history classes is that the narrative came to a screeching halt after World War II. Nobody wanted to wade through the moral quagmires of Korea and Vietnam when it was so much easier to end on the high note of Allied triumph over the Nazis, with the unprecedented prosperity of the 1950s on the horizon. I’m sure this isn’t a universal experience, but from what I’ve learned in conversation with my peers, it’s a common one.

This war is entrenched in my family history—my grandparents were in the Foreign Service, my mother and her sister raised in Asia while their father worked at the U. S. Embassy in Saigon—so it’s something which has preoccupied, obsessed, and haunted me. I’ve read my grandfather’s letters from Tet. I’ve heard my mother describe waiting for her father to come home, while her mother tried to hide her fear that perhaps he never would. What tormented me most as I got older was how little I understood the conflict. So I did what I do best: research. I devoured books and newspapers, letters and interviews, movies and documentaries, music and memoirs and museum exhibits. The experience was unique in my archival pursuits in that the more I read and the more I learned, the more confused I became. But there’s some strange comfort in that, because that is the common thread running through so many different narratives of Vietnam: confusion and frustration of such agonizing magnitude that words simply cannot do it justice. But, as a writer, I am trying.

It is difficult to explain (especially to people like me who never talked about ’Nam in their history classes but unlike me had no reason to wonder about it) why I spend my scant spare time immersed in something so deeply, indefinitely disturbing. It is difficult to explain that this is something I feel tyrannically compelled to talk about, especially right now. The political climate of the United States is perhaps the most volatile it has been since the Vietnam War—which was ten months into its deadliest year exactly fifty years ago. Daily, anniversaries of deaths and battles and marches—at home and abroad—go by. On October 21, 2017, I walked the same route tens of thousands of anti-war protestors followed to the Pentagon in 1967. In the past two years, I’ve attended protests of my own, dragged out into the streets by a moral obligation to object to what I cannot countenance in this country of my birth: rampant gun violence, virulent misogyny, unchecked corruption, tax cuts for those already obscenely rich, the political legitimization of white supremacy. Since returning to the States from London immediately after the 2016 election, I have lived in a state of constant anger, fear, and confusion. And while I will never really know what it was like for the hundreds of thousands of men who fought for their lives or lost them in Vietnam, I am beginning to understand what it was like to live in a domestic American warzone, where families and friendships and illusions shattered under the pressure of such insurmountable conflict. I feel like I can never quite relax. Random crying jags while reading the Sunday paper have become the norm. Signs lettered with slogans are piled up in my coat closet. Every time I’m off to a protest I dress for a riot, a lesson learned from history and current events alike. Wear sneakers in case you have to run, tie a bandana around your neck to breathe through in case you get tear-gassed, keep your ID and cash in your pocket in case you’re arrested, and don’t forget to call your folks before you go and let you know you love them—just in case. But worse than anything, I think, is the feeling of desperate breathless exhaustion, like you’ve been screaming your lungs out for two straight years and nobody can hear you—or if they can, they’re not listening.

So. Where does that leave you? What do you do?

As historians are fond of pointing out, the Sixties witnessed socio-political unrest unseen since the Civil War. The Sixties also saw some of the most remarkable artistic achievement of the 20th century, and that is hardly a coincidence. Without the cultural revolution which was undeniably intensified by the Vietnam War, we would be bereft of a rich artistic groundswell which gave us freeform radio and music videos, Slouching Towards Bethlehem and Slaughterhouse-Five, Bob Dylan and the Doors. Art has often been rebellious, sometimes revolutionary, and never apolitical. It has held a mirror up to nature, since Shakespeare coined the phrase (and long before). Art is one of the most powerful forms of protest we have, which is why artists are usually among the first to be exiled, arrested, punished, and persecuted when totalitarianism rears its ugly head.

For me, art is also a way to make some sense of senseless things. For the last year or so I have been working on a novel which follows the staff of a college radio station from 1967 to ’69. They are students and activists, lovers and fighters, poets and potheads, disc jockeys and GIs and draft dodgers, all dragged kicking and screaming into the chaos and turmoil of Vietnam. In their company I have marched on the Pentagon, watched the Tet Offensive unfold on television, felt crippling fear for a friend who just lost the draft lottery. I’ve also shared their wild delight at the vibrant life of the counterculture, their exhilaration at hearing “Purple Haze” for the first time and knowing it was something extraordinary, their contradictory conviction that peace is worth fighting for, their noble and naïve belief that they can arrest the forward momentum of a powerful political machine if only they, as Mario Savio so memorably put it in the days of Berkeley Free Speech, are brave enough to throw their bodies on the gears.

It’s not an easy story to tell when you know how it ends. The war dragged on until 1975, leaving almost 60,000 Americans dead—including four students killed at Kent State by the National Guard—and many more Vietnamese. It’s not an easy story to tell fifty years later when it couldn’t be plainer how little we’ve learned from the ugly parts of our history that nobody really wants to talk about. But that, of course, is exactly why I feel compelled to tell it.

Last week I marched with hundreds of other people from the U. S. Capitol to the steps of the Supreme Court to protest the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. In light of Dr. Blasey-Ford’s testimony that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high-school party with his hand clapped over her mouth, the analogy that we’re all screaming and no one can hear has become painfully, horribly real. Doubt eats away at me daily, and I can’t help wondering if all our efforts, all our marches and protests and outrage, will ultimately amount to nothing.

As I stood by the Capitol Reflecting Pool under gray skies and drizzling rain, an elegant older woman passed by me—dressed in black, with short gray hair and a face that was familiar, though I’d never met her before. When I realized she really was Joan Baez and not just someone who resembled her I thought, My God, she must be so tired of this. But then I felt a strange, unexpected stab of hope and realized how grateful I am for someone like her, someone who hasn’t given up fighting inequality and violence and war for fifty years, no matter how tired she is. Later I saw her standing under a tree (surprisingly not mobbed by people; perhaps other marchers my age and younger don’t know who she is) and managed to mutter a strangled, inadequate “Thank you.” Because I needed the reminder that apathy is not an option. Because now I can return to the story I’m trying to tell, a story of then and now, art and outrage, small hope and long odds that we’ll ever learn from our mistakes. Because no matter how small the hope or how long the odds, I refuse to fall silent. Of course, I’m no Joan Baez. I’ve only been marching around in the rain for two years and I’m already exhausted. But I will keep marching, and I will keep screaming, and I will keep writing, because just maybe someone will hear me, and just maybe, someday, it will matter.

Guest Post, Michael Schmeltzer: The Dread Sacred (a Joy Manifesto)

 

Michael Schmeltzer bio photoLet me begin at the end like every apocalyptic film. The sun like a pregnant belly swells. We are old (or not.) We are sick (or not.) There is war enough to make us mad, even with nothing on earth to gain. We leave a book half-finished, a bill unpaid. Whether you’re a friend or stranger, reader or writer, let me say this so there is no misunderstanding; I don’t want to die.

This, of course, doesn’t matter. Our world, without our consent, will end, not with a bang but a whimper.

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Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, Sanford, Ferguson.

Other worlds end with a bang but not a whimper and all too soon. We are told black lives matter but repeatedly shown, in a multitude of ways, they do not. In the not so distant past, violence struck like a hammer to our hearts: a movie theater, an elementary school, a church, a night club. If you let it, the evil and hate, the cynicism of society, will convince you no lives matter.

If that happens, what will you do with your one wild and precious life?

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In the film “Last Night,” the world ends engulfed in a bright light. There is no scientific miracle, no hero on a rocket. No one survives.

“In addition to the dread is a sort of freedom,” Leah Umansky writes in her book “Straight Away the Emptied World.”

Sometimes I drive and sing wildly out of tune. Sometimes I wonder what if I crash? Is this the song I’ll die singing? I ask myself in the same way I watch apocalyptic films. It’s not the final scene I’m concerned about; it’s the moments before.

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The characters in “Last Night” know they won’t make it. The two protagonists, having known each other only for hours, decide to kill each other moments before the world ends. They listen to a crowd countdown the seconds as they hold a gun to the other’s temple.

We know we won’t make it either. So then what? What does dread determine we do?

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Let me begin again, this time where I love. My daughters, eight and five, are at school. I drop them off, kiss them goodbye. I return to my unusually quiet home. I wash and fold clothes, empty the dishwasher. This is what I do with my one wild, precious life. Yet, bored by the domestic, I am deeply in love with it, even the piss-mess and stink of the litter box.

In the evenings my children sit on my lap, tug on my arms to anchor me to the couch. At night my cats knead the soft skin of my forearm while I talk with my wife about our day. When I say I don’t want to die, do you feel it more deeply now, when you know the beginning of my joy and not just its inevitable end? Mary Oliver said it so well. “Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?”

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I tell my daughters I love them: before they go to school, when I pick them up, when they go to sleep. I tell them directly and often, and they return such radiance. It’s a litany of joy, and I dread the silence their loss can bring.

It’s terrifying to love simply and openly, bluntly, but children deserve it. I want to look every child in the face and tell them they are enough. They are worthy. I would tell them every day. They deserve it all.

At what point do people disagree with me? At what age do people feel it necessary to ask “What have they done with their lives?” or “What were they doing moments before the end?” Seventeen? Twelve? At what age do people look at a child shot and without dread say they deserved it all?

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“Tell me something to make me love you,” the character Sandra says in “Last Night.”

We owe the dead this much, a chance to be heard.

“Tell me more. I want to love you. It won’t be hard,” she continues.

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“Often I think we can, if given half a chance, love anyone,” writes Jane O. Wayne.

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When the shooter confessed he said he almost didn’t do it because everyone was so nice. It’s the proximity that wounds: the almost, the half a chance.

The shooter almost didn’t do it. Oh god, then he did.

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Imagine joy enough not to pull a trigger.

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A church. A mosque. A cemetery.

Our sacred spaces are not always safe spaces. We as writers are often called to witness this simple and tragic truth. But if there is any wisdom or modicum of comfort I can offer, it’s that we are not only called to witness tragedy, but joy as well.

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“All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy wrote.

What can we say about that sentence other than how little it understands happiness, or the power inherent in it.

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If we understand only a single angle of joy, then we only understand a single angle of loss.

“Tell me something to make me love you.” In other words, teach me your joy so I may wish you safe from harm. Teach me your joy so I may mourn you properly when the world ends.

/

None of us make it.

‘I don’t want you to go,’ he said, the tears dropping from his eyes, slowly at first, then spilling like a river.

I don’t want to go. But we’re not at the end yet, we’re in the moments before. We have time to tell each other more.

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In the final scene of “Last Night,” the two protagonists lower their weapons. Everything hushes. They kiss. Only the sound of their embrace can be heard. Then the world is engulfed in light. This is how the film ends.

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This can be the way the world ends, too.