Articles tagged with "art"

MUDAM

MUDAM

I spent my Sunday afternoon at MUDAM, a new contemporary art gallery on a hill near the European Court of Justice. I walked there via a forest path which climbed steeply from the river bank up to the heights, through the restored Fort Thüngen to the gallery. The building itself is the work of IM Pei with trademark glass pyramids making an odd contrast with the old fortifications nearby.

The museum was quite small but had some quality works of art in it. My favourite was the exhibition of the works of Attila Csörgő. Wild clockwork devices which constructed and deconstructed geometric shapes by pulling strings attached to bits of wood were possibly the most impressive. It was absolutely beyond my comprehension that someone could ever build something like them.

By the time I left the gallery it was dark. I set off back to town via the route I’d come, only to realise after a few hundred metres that it was completely unlit. I didn’t feel like turning back, so I pushed on using the weedy light from my mobile phone to light the way. The damp corridors of Fort Thüngen were quite spooky in the pitch darkness. I hurried on through to the forest, and then found my way down the trail back to the bottom of the Alzette valley.


Pompidou

Pompidou

We went to the Pompidou centre and saw some modern art. It was another classic Paris thing to do that I hadn’t done before. We also, being scientists keen to communicate what we do, joined in at Paris’s first “Science Corner”, where people from various disciplines set up stands on the plaza in front of the centre, offering the public the chance to ask us anything they wanted to. Not speaking French obviously made it a bit difficult for those of us from the UK, but none the less we got plenty of interest. There were some press people there and articles later appeared in a few newspapers.


Chicago

Chicago

I got into trouble at immigration. I thought I might do – my passport has been through some rough times and is battered and fraying. But that was fine. The problem came when the immigration officer asked me what the purpose of my visit was. I wasn’t exactly sure what to say – I’d come for a conference but that was only one day, and then I would have two days free. On the green form I put ‘tourism’. “What is the purpose of your visit?” asked the officer. I began to explain my situation. I was tired and I rambled. He cut me short. “What. Is the purpose. Of your visit. Sir?”, he said, angrily. “Work”, I said, and he looked at me with disgust, crossed out what I’d written on the card, stamped my passport and waved me through.

I got a train into the centre of Chicago, and wandered around aimlessly. I’d seen ice in Lake Huron as we flew in, but Lake Michigan was ice-free and it wasn’t cold. I found my way to Millennium Park and Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’.


KUMU

KUMU

I met up with an Estonian friend in the evening. We went to a restaurant in the old town with a mediaeval theme, and one of the things on the menu was bear. I’ve been a vegetarian since I came back from South America, but I like to make the odd exception for cultural experiences. I hadn’t had any culinary cultural experiences since I’d eaten shark’s stomach in China in April 2007, so I decided it was about time. I really enjoyed it, the only problem being that not having eaten meat for so long, I didn’t have any reference point to compare the taste to.

The next day it was warmer, cloudier and calmer than it had been. I decided to go to the KUMU art gallery, and followed signs from the city centre. It took me about an hour, and was quite a nice walk at first, with views through the woods to the Baltic, but later the route went through a muddy car park onto a back road. I worked out later that I’d walked four times as far as I needed to – there was a short cut I could have taken that would have got me there from town in about 15 minutes.

The gallery was a good place to spend a rainy afternoon. There was a lot of art from the early 20th century that wasn’t particularly inspiring, but also a lot of more contemporary stuff. There was an interesting exhibition about art in the Soviet times, with propaganda posters and quotes from Soviet authorities decrying abstract art – “works that do not do credit to the author’s understanding of the principles of social realism” and “freakish shapes, which have no utilitarian or decorative value”.

As darkness fell I walked the short way back into town.


Hamburger Bahnhof

Hamburger Bahnhof

The Hamburger Bahnhof is a great contemporary art gallery. I’d been there before in 2004, and loved most of it except the main exhibition. It was the same this time, with huge amounts of space devoted to stuff by Wolfgang Tillmans, which was mostly rubbish. But away from his work there were some excellent things. One installation that I particularly liked was an almost entirely dark room, with just an incredibly faint image projected onto the far wall. You had to spent at least ten minutes in there before the point of it became clear, and I liked that. Re-emerging into the bright gallery, I needed another ten minutes to be able to see properly again afterwards.