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Cultural Digest: Don't miss these events in Europe this week

Damien Hirst in front of one of his new paintings
Damien Hirst in front of one of his new paintings Copyright Phillips
Copyright Phillips
By Jonny Walfisz
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Want a taste of culture this week? Here's what you might have missed.


It’s that time of the week again. Welcome back to Euronews Culture’s Weekly Digest. We traverse the continent looking for fun ways to get your art fix, so you don’t have to.


Damien Hirst has returned with a new exhibition. After his most recent performance stunt ‘The Currency’ saw him burning thousands of dot paintings that the British artist had sold to collectors as NFTs, Hirst’s latest show takes a far more pastoral tone.

Opened on 20 July at Phillips in London, Hirst is debuting some never before seen paintings from three collections: Coast Paintings, Sea Paintings, and Seascapes. While Coast Paintings features an abstract collection of paint splatters, Sea Paintings and Seascapes combine his practice of using photographs and then manipulating them, either by freezing in grayscale or splattering paint on top.


Over in the Italian towns of San Galgano and Chiusdino, the Siena Awards Photo Festival 2023 is taking place. The two outdoor exhibitions bring some of the most exciting pieces of contemporary photography to stunning settings.

Siena Awards
The charming medieval village of ChiusdinoSiena Awards

The mediaeval village of Chiusdino hosts photos on the walls of historic buildings and palaces, as the San Galgano Abbey has been decked out with nominees. The victors of the awards will be announced later from 30 September to 19 November at the international photo festival in Siena.

Artistic Directors

It was a big week for announcing new artistic directors. First, Verbier Festival, the classical music festival running in Switzerland from 14-30 July, announced that Blythe Teh Engstroem would become co-artistic director in 2024, alongside founding director Martin Engstroem.

Blythe Engstroem is an American musician and programmer and a founding member of the Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, established in 2005.

The other big new artistic director announcement was for one of the UK’s most prestigious theatres, the Royal Court. Based in London, the Royal Court Theatre has a reputation for championing new writing and has debuted plays by Jez Butterworth, Caryl Churchill, and Martin McDonagh.

This week, the Royal Court announced its new artistic director is David Byrne (not the one from Talking Heads). Byrne has most recently been the CEO and artistic director of the New Diorama Theatre in London where he built a reputation for launching artists’ careers.


It seems every bookshop these days now has a #BookTok section, such is the popularity of book-fluencers on TikTok. It’s only appropriate, then, that TikTok should launch their very own book awards.

The inaugural TikTok Book Awards UK and Ireland has just released its shortlist, curated by authors including Candice Braithwaite and Elizabeth Day. Fittingly for the social media platform, it’s up to the public to vote for the winners. From Bolu Babalola’s ‘Honey & Spice’ to Douglas Stuart’s ‘Young Mungo’, it’s up to you who will win the first edition of the award.


In film, the big news the last few months has been the writers strike in Hollywood by the Writers Guild of America (WGA). When the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) joined the walkout last week, it became a historic attempt to disrupt the film industry from practices that devalue creators.

Mya Vinnett/Copyright 2023 The AP.
A member of SAG/AFTRA pickets outside of Netflix studios, July 19, 2023, in Los Angeles.Mya Vinnett/Copyright 2023 The AP.

Interestingly, while the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike has put a stop to many productions in Hollywood, a handful of indie productions have continued. 39 films, including David Lowery’s A24-produced Mother Mary have been permitted to continue filming as they aren’t associated with the cutthroat Hollywood studios at the centre of the fight for fair working conditions.

Social Media

If you aren’t terminally online, you may have missed the discovery of one of the weirdest trends this week. A new kind of performer has taken over TikTok Lives. NPC Livestreamers film for hours at a time responding to real-time financial gifts with erie automated actions.

The most famous of the NPC Livestreamers is Pinkydoll, a Quebecois woman whose peculiar ability to churn out identikit reactions on TikTok Live has made her an overnight sensation. Watching her might make you feel like the world is ending, but it’s hard to take your eyes away.

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