Freitag, 29. Oktober 2010

The jazz singer

Intercultural shaking (hands)

Last week, I was happy to meet over a cup of coffee at Hackescher Markt my Brazilian friend. Short academic updates and experience sharing of our lives at the opposite corners of the world. We left together, direction Muji, to meet a German friend, with whom established to shop together from Muji. I found her already in the front of the shop and, as a polite and well educated person, made the introduction. My Brazilian friend, jumped naturally to kiss her. My German friend made two steps behind, also very naturally and starred at her very coldly. We chit-chat for a couple of seconds and before the good bye shaking hands and, with a gazelle unpredictable jump, my Brazilian friend hug and kiss on the check the German friend. And smiled. Me too, observing all this civilization ballet. I like my Brazilian friend, she is a good strateg, not only a lively conversation partner!

Lazy writing week

It was a very professionally busy week, with not too many interesting places to see, but many ideas to think about. Big place, big events, with top personalities from the cultural and political world. Another serious reason to refuse thinking about leaving this city - at least for the next year. My week-end looks very quiet, with a party tomorrow night and a lot of time dedicated to my professional projects, books and movies. Expecting only some visual updates.

Dienstag, 26. Oktober 2010

Mustafa Gemusekebap

An awesome website, you (at least I) cannot resist the temptation to visit the place and do some food shopping:

Samstag, 23. Oktober 2010

Salty Monday

The last Monday, curious but not well informed enough, I hurried up to see the newest exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. If I had less impatience and more interested to check my schedule, I would discover that it the new exhibition is not yet set up. I bit disappointed about my cultural desperation - and the time lost, in a day when I was under pressure to finish some delayed projects - I X-Ray-ed the neighbourhood, for a new intellectual challenge. And found, unexpectedly, at Automobil Forum Unter den Linden, that it was the last day of an exhibition about salt - Faszination Salz. 
Photographies by Fred Lange, a famous German photographer, a salt igloo, various presentations and introductions about the role of salt in providing wealth, building adversities and supporting the various economies. Lange is a well experienced artist, covering aspects from the life of mining communities all over the world. 
An old saying, I remembered while watching the exhibition - together with many kids ready to experiment the salt igloo, a quiet place to rest and touch the crystals - written on a wall is: "You can live without gold, but not without salt". But, at the end of my tour I realized that salt is a gold in itself, and a very valuable resource. And, also, a very tasty resource, at in a corner, at a counter, I had the marvelous occasion to taste various salts, with vanilla, rose, mint...I used to be very proud of my Corsican salt, but after this, I am unhappier than ever as the exhibition is over and I didn't have enough time to buy at least two new salty samples, to change my food into gold. 

Piano City Berlin

One of the events taking place this week-end: Piano City. Events for families and children and all those in love with good classical music! And, at least for today, the weather is encouraging the going out. The good mild autumn is back. I am feeling very optimistic today.

With a little help

A couple of days ago, almost at the beginning of the evening, I was wandering lost in the area of the Freie Universitaet Campus, in Dahlem. I needed to go to a conference with Mona Ozouf, an intellectual event I was very excited about, as I studied and read a lot about her works. And now, thanks to the wonderful chance to live in Berlin, I was able to attend a conference of her. Of course, if I was able to find the place...

My advantage when I am lost or looking for a street is that I can practice my wonderful clumsy German. It is what I did while getting more and more nervous as the hour scheduled for the start of the event was getting closer. First question addressed to the shopkeeper of a Delices Gourmandes didn't help me too much. Went back in the area and asked two students - the university year already started - and one of them, told me immediately (in German): if you don't hurry up, I will drive you there. Surprised, asked her if it is not a problem: and she said back (still in German): of course, not!

Entered the car, had a 4-5 minutes basic conversation - where are you from? what about you? what are you doing in Berlin? - entered the place I wanted to go, say good bye and thank you. The conference started 15 minutes later, enough minutes to think that life and people, in Berlin, can be very friendly. And, two hours later, I left this student area with a refreshing feeling that I would like to be a full time academic again. Maybe soon.

A bit of Kreuzberg

The world through the eyes of Luis Ramon Marin

In the first decades of the 20th century, the world was looking similarly as our world looks today: a contrast between new and old, between high-tech and countryside. Of course, the costumes are different , as are the terms of comparisons - zeppelins vs. supersonics. But still, we are with one foot in the modernity and the other in the supermodernity.

My thoughts after the photography exhibition from Instituto Cervantes, by Luis Ramon Marin. The style is very close of what I am thinking myself about photography: use the lenses to register carefully the reality - the photos from the Spanish Civil War are a testimony of life and history - with its colourful human mosaic in a black-and-white universe. 

Dienstag, 19. Oktober 2010

No free concert for today

No free concert for today at the Philharmoniker. We arrived 5 minutes before 13.00 and there were already 1.600 persons inside and more than 100 outside waiting for a chance to be accepted in. I was sad and angry but ended up in a small Swiss fast food in the area and bought tickets to see the new entry movie in the Berlin cinemas, Lebanon

And this never ending rain...

Montag, 18. Oktober 2010

TimeMap Berlin

This time, I will suggest a different trip across Berlin.
There are four time options: 1869 - 1893 - 1926 - 1957.
Up to you to make the choice. The final discovery: the history of the places and streets.
I am terribly sorry, but was not prepared to take some pictures. Maybe a next time.
Anyway, a(nother) smart idea to promote the city and raise the interest in its history.

Jonathan Franzen, lecture about birds

My week-end was very social, with lots of human interactions. Will reconnect with myself soon and will start writing and posting more photos and words.

One of the intellectual news of the last two days, is Jonathan Franzen's lecture about birds. A lecture held party in a very sophisticated and elitist German.

Bis bald!

Freitag, 15. Oktober 2010

New pictures from the Festival of Lights

Today, I checked the Festival of Lights in Gendarmenmarkt

and near Zoologische Garten:
Curious, of course, about other locations.

5. ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival

Kino Babylon Mitte is hosting from 14 to 17 October 5. ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival. For the competition of the best poetic movies were sent more than 900 films from 71 countries, from films to children to horror and erotic films. The new elements of this 5th edition: the increased role of the poets in presenting directly their works to the filmmakers, the presentation of the results of the collaboration between Israeli filmmakers and German poets and the works of students from German film schools in transforming the words of poems into images.

I have been today evening at the opening of the exhibition of the Dutch artists eddie d, Matt Hulse and Pim Zwier "Public Poetry Matters", a visual protests against the anti-poetic trends of current politics (case-study, the artists' country).

Movies from Uruguay

In the period 11-25 October (one movie the week, every Monday, from 20 o'clock), Kino Babylon Mitte is hosting several contemporary movies from Uruguay, under the organization of Instituto Cervantes Berlin. Can you mention one single movie from this Latin American country? Let's say "Whisky"...Ready for the tour?

Burg und Herrschaft - the last week

Deutsche Historische Museum - on Burg and Herrschaft, the last week.

The European Month of Photography, in Berlin

Modern Times, New Pictures, the main topic of one month of photo exhibitions, all over the city.

Donnerstag, 14. Oktober 2010

Lights, lights, lights

Yesterday evening, I successfully fought my procrastination and my hunger for more home writing and reading, so went out of the crib and took some pictures of the first moments of the Festival of Lights. Hope to be in the mood for pictures in other evenings, for covering other corners of the city. The program is very intense and it is possible to book a special tour.

Anybody Voudou?

The bad weather is back (again), time for more indoor - exploring the nice coffee shops, cinemas and museums. A couple of months ago, when I was complaining and complaining about this horrible weather, a wise friend of mine outlined that, one of the reasons there are so many coffee shops - with wonderful cookies - might be the time, so I have to stop crying and start discovering this happy part of the city.

This week, I've been to see the Voudou exhibition in Dahlem. Not any kind of Voudu - I was, culturally speaking, familiar with the New Orleans type - but the one from Haiti, a place we remembered it is on the map recently, on the occasion of the terrible earthquake. This visit in the magic world of the Haitian voudou was interesting not only from the religious point of view, but also from the point of view of the political history of the country, as these magical practices were used as the background for movements fighting for the emancipation of the slaves, and, in our times, as a tool used against political opponents. A paradox, of course, as it is always when the magics are invading the political and public space.

And my short photographic memory of the exhibition, an incentive to see more for those interested in the world cultures.

Free Lunchkonzert, every Tuesday

If it is Tuesday, and 13 o'clock, it is time for a one hour free concert at the Berlin Philharmoniker. It is among the first cultural tips I've got about Berlin and I am still keeping a very sentimental memory to this place. Me, the first week in a new town, going to see, for free, a concert of Daniel Barenboim and his son. Isn't it wonderful?

I dropped this name only to make sure that, free doesn't mean it is low quality. (As I was, perhaps, expecting myself). My biggest regret is that I do not have enough time for attending as much as I would like to this wonderful musical gathering. There are lots of tourists, but also people working in the area - white collars - students, children, retired persons - from 1 month - music lovers coming regularly. If you arrive a couple of minutes before it starts (as I did this week), you risk to have the worse possible view, but still the sound is good and you can fully enjoy the musical performances. The musicians are young or vetarans, all of them professionals and sharing wonderful moments with a very enthusiastic and polite audience. 

Here are my visual snapshots from the last event, with a repertoire from Claude Debussy, Bach, Per Nørgård, Jacob Druckman, Max Leth and Iannis Xenakis, in the interpretation of Simon Roessler and Wieland Welzel.

Montag, 11. Oktober 2010

Welcome home! We have dinner!

I've heard for a long time about this practice of organizing public events to private houses, as cooking together or dancing together. You need to find the place and to have some money available, but I find this new-urban custom as part of getting educated about new ways to get in touch with new people. 

And, as well, an innovative way to build the brand awareness of the city.

Sonntag, 10. Oktober 2010

The Mermaid's Mirror

I had the chance, yesterday, while wandering across the artworks, to assist to a discussion about the situation of Asian arts. 

The partners of dialogue - held in English - were Anupam Poddar, New Delhi-based collector and Founding Director of Devi Art Foundation (right in the picture below) and Sandhini Poddar, Assistant Curator of Asian Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York. The background was the exhibition Being Singular Plural: Moving Images from India at the Deutsche Guggenheim

The focus on Asian - geographical terms covering, from the bureaucratic point of view of the museum' bureaucracies: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran - is on the rise for a long time already. Private and public collectors, all over the world, are interested to gather, systematically or not, piece of work from these areas. But, as Anupam Poddar explained, at the regional level, the artistic dialogue is not easy at all, as various visa and political restrictions are diminishing and even blocking the purposive generosity of the intellectual dialogue. The acquisition, by an Indian collector, of an artwork from Pakistan, might be an extremely nervous and time consuming adventure. Hence, the focus on photography and video art, even, for this part of the world, the tradition of a non-imagistic history of arts, following the religious environment, is more representative. I would be interested, for example, to watch a video made by an Iranian artist, but I would be more keen to see the current trend in the traditional Persian painting. 

From the local point of view, the scarce state resources must be the another problem for those interested to share the local artistic heritage. As long as the public resources for cultural initiatives are lacking, the museums cannot enrich their collections, and there are serious gaps in keeping the pace with the very diverse artistic live. For example, in the case of India, the acquisitions stopped eight years ago and the country was not able to have its own Pavilion at the Venice Biennial this year. In this case, the private galleries and collectors are playing a vital role in supporting the artists.

Based on a long family tradition, Anupam Poddar made public his mother collection - of more than 7.000 artworks - in 2008. In the same time, he encouraged various programs of creating skillful and professional curators and arts education in schools. A first step of a different kind of philanthropy, predominantly focused by now in exclusively social projects. 

Art Forum Berlin

As scheduled, I spent a couple of hours yesterday at the Art Forum Berlin. Lots of people, with or without kids, relaxed gallerists - in comparison with the last year, when many of them were a bit disapponted by the negative effects of the economic crisis on their businesses. Some of the galleries - from the US, Italy, Austria, France, Hungary (the new entry this time, I think), the Netherlands - were present this year too, but I was feeling a different wave of optimism. And, in comparison with the last year, I've heard more people asking about prices and artists. Even, in my opinion, some of the prices were impressively high - 13.000 EUR. for a big nature photography, pretty normal, with some trees and some green grass around. A matter of taste, of course.

The price of the ticket, during the day was of 18 EUR., the normal price, but I think it was worthy, as I gathered several free arts magazines, all together making more than 20 EUR. Good food for thought for getting more insights about the new and old trends in the contemporary arts. 

What I liked about this edition? A lot of interesting photographies and video installations, some of them, as I've heard later on, hunted for the new generation of collectors, including for private use, as part of their home designs. It was about time for this too, isn't it?

What I didn't? The contemporary trends of focusing more on the innovative use of various materials and settings than on representation of figurative images. I don't have nothing against the abstract and post-modern art, but I believe that there are still lots of imagistic opportunities to explore and recompose the fragments of reality into coherent images. 

Here, a couple of fragments from some artistic corners I discovered:

I am already curious about the next year fair!