Friday, November 09, 2007

So yesterday I left the shelter of the mountains of El Bruc and headed into Barcelona - the great city of Catalunya. Those who know me might be shocked by the fact of my having left a residency space to enter a big city with all of its distractions. Well, I needed some envelopes and the local papeleria "La Vanguardia" doesn't have any right now. So, I headed into Barcelona. While I was there, I visited MACBA - the Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona - to check them out. That in and of itself made the trip in worth it. Next time I'm in the city, which will probably be when I leave, I might go back and I'll definitely be checking out the Centro Cultural Contemporani de Barcelona - which is right next door.

So what was so great about the MACBA? Well, I happen to love the tail end of the modern/formalist arts movements. They had an exhibit titled: Sota la bomba. El jazz de la guerra d'imatges transatlantica. 1946-1956 which can be translated as "Dropping the bomb. The jazz of War, Transatlantic images from 1946-1956". It was a brilliantly curated exhibit which took full advantage of the MACBA's architectural layout - a maze of rooms with walls that open out to the building's glass visage where you can catch glimpses of the brilliantly graffitied walls of the church on one side, and the crumbling walls of another church-turned-gallery along a large plaza on the other. And the exhibit itself featured works of French, Eastern European, U.S., and Spanish artists from the post WWII period, with an emphasis on French-U.S. artists. Sure there was a lot of Jackson Pollock, who I cannot stand as an artist or historical persona, but there was also a great deal of work by Antoni Tapies, and Franz Kline and Mark Rothko and William de Koonig. The paintings were accompanied by video - not just artistic videos but movies and films (like Hitchcock's Rear Window) - and by historical texts, newspapers, journals and the materia prima of cultural production from the times. All aspects of cultural life were explored, and interrogated. It was fascinating.

Right next door, as if it wasn't enough to stand in front of Kandinsky's "Ascension Legere" for 15 minutes (which it wasn't), was an exhibit on Joan Jonas' work. Quite out there. Incredibly self indulgent and typical of that early 70s performance art aesthetic (yes, okay, DEFINING), BUT the video pieces were fascinating. I sat and watched them, amidst the performance debris, for a long time. Trying to capture all of the distinct visual layers simultaneously occupying two and three dimensional space.

So, though I was really, really glad to come back to El Bruc at the end of the day and lay my head down in the comfort of a warm bed amidst the quiet of the mountains, I'm glad I went in for my envelopes and art. I also walked and saw a couple of Gaudi's buildings. Eeh. Interesting, but I saw a ton of his work when I was in Barcelona in 1998. So, it doesn't move me in the same way anymore. Though it's definitely beautiful and definitely interesting. Just not Kandinsky.

Anyway, I'm off to try and find a form in which to write some poetry.


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