Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Explosions, type and grace

Hello there sisters!

A door in mid-restauration on Antwerp's Meir,
the main shopping street.

I have been a-long-long-gone-one, I know, at least from the blogosphere. It's just that life ain't that 'i have a feeling I know where all the pieces fit' kinda place at the moment, so bear with me awhile as I re-shuffle the letters.

Where have I been, apart from half the world over and back with S3 to be with you, S1, recently?

La Fête du Village: The Red Cross holding watch over
our street during a late-September parade

Well, there is this amazing exhibition by Michel François on at the moment at the SMAK in Ghent. The whole upper floor is dedicated to his work...and he really blows you away: wih a film of shattering bottles (almost) landing on the artist as he paces around in circles on a concrete floor, calmly smoking a cigarette...or what about an upside-down field of dandelion bells, or a complex structure of beams and magnets in a room looking like the work of a spider on caffeine? Or there is the visceral clay-like substance in blocks covered in silver leaf, out of which handfulls have been taken, stronger than an Anthony Gormly field and echoing of an Ann Hamilton shaped piece of dough in a performance....moonboots made out of elastic bands, discarded as if forgotten in the corner; incongruous and so very apt that it makes you gasp. A smashed window as a giveaway poster large enough to cover one wall; plasticine stuck between the radiator in rainbow stripes, a room dismantled and water streaming in, gosh that feels right in a museum, no, not any museum, but in this one! And then meeting A. whom I have known for so many years and all the artworld stiff bonjourism melts away for a real conversation about wondering about the newly discovered ring around Saturn, the speed of light and the type of brains you need to take into account when teaching about mathematics...

Yes, A. came to the rescue and took me out of the Museum right on time, after a gorgeous exhibition, into a restaurant for a lovely meal.... in every way it was civilised, from the fish down the conversation. Even the waiters were lovely. A's friends turned out to be avid art lovers and started having ferocious discussions about the meaning of painting and everything, slamming their fists on the table! (I liked that bit)... and it left me reassured that the passions still reign in that strange realm they call contemporary art...

This sunday, I was spoiled by our parents, who descended upon Antwerp to take me out for Sunday Lunch. Which we enjoyed (after a wee detour past a little flea market that we love and know by the Pedestrian Tunnel under the Scheldt...). I bought another set of scales.

We ate at the Zuiderterras, it was great, you know, like real Sunday dinner, it was. Then KP called and offered some tickets for an exhibition viewing at Bozar in Brussels followed by a film premiere, which we gladly accepted and bravely our father, and I, ventured in to see the latest exhibition there, The State of Things, curated by Luc Tuymans and Ai Wei Wei. I particularly liked the piece by Vanessa Van Obberghen which was the Flemish Anthem played on the bongos. Joëlle Tuerlinckx made this room in which the cumulative effect of sunlight was amplified; you normally need glasses to go inside there; there were all these curling pieces of paper, it was hilarious and striking at the same time. Eeh, I do enjoy a good sense of humour in my art. Even when it is bittersweet.

It all was suffused in a rather violet (violent) glow. Almost like you could feel it on your skin like a temperature. I do not know whether it gives you a suntan.

The other night another opening of Cerith Wyn Evans at deSingel; exciting times are these. This included letters cut away from book pages revealing the wall behind! -and it was: gasp!-and neon sentences in mirror image and circles of phrases in fireworks. I had a lovely time there meeting all sorts of people whom I didn't know who happen to be collectors and also extremely passionate about art. I also met a man who only does neon and he was very neon. I liked him, he has a gorgeous face and although he was very serious amongst the collectors I could see he has a good sense of humour too.

Home sweet home in the sunshine

A new "home",
of a kind,
on Saturdays...

Other new highlights in my life include the Typography Course i am doing at the Plantin Moretus Museum where each saturday I go on my date with the 16th century as I call it. I have access to the attic of the museum and the print cabinet, and together with other font aficionados we get poured full of Knowledge - like lead being poured into mould and shaped by a copper matrix - a lot of this knowledge is fast-disappearing - about the history of printing, of letters, illustration techniques, you name it. You can imagine it is a bit of an Aladdin's cave for me and my eyes lust each week for the encounter with forms and variations which you may have always taken for granted but which upon closer inspection turn out to contain story upon story and individual history upon collective history.

This is a choice made based on fingerspitzengefühl. I don't know what I will do with it but it helps me engage with my city's history in a very immediate way. The first ever atlases in the whole wide world were printed here, and from the 16th century onwards shiploads of books in Spanish left from here to the New World (this was in the time that the Spanish reigned over the city) to spread knowledge or at least the gospel. I love the inner courtyard, where you, S3, and I have recently been.....

Typography is everywhere, I realised, as I was sitting gazing
into space, wondering whether I should be doing the course...

There have been many more things happening too of course, dear sisters, such as a voting out of a certain proposal of a certain bridge coming precariously near the city. I am involved in an indirect way, through this benefit auction, and of course by exercising a right to vote in last Sunday's referendum, which is always a good muscle to flex.
Love from S2

The beautifully preserved interior gardens of
the grand Plantin Moretus Museum.
I am most honoured to be a visitor here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

mr.petit is not who i thunk he was

Dearest siblingz,

I have some suprising news.
You remember my great tight rope walking friend mr.petit ?
Well , it turns out he is not at all a professional tight rope walker.

A lot to take in at once, i know.
I had my suspicions when his thick black stick on moustache fell off.
When his strong french accent would sometimes sound like a deep down southern accent from texas. ( turns out he has family there )
But he just convinced me that that was part of a new act he was working on , to tight rope walk from america to france. Did they take the word gullable out of the dictionary ? I dont think im gullable , im just a positive thinker !
But then when i noticed him falling off little walls , not being able to walk in a straight line for more than half a meter i had to confront Fillippe and ask him straight out if he really was a tight rope walker.
Which, as you can imagine , is a difficult situation. I did not want to doubt my friend's great talent and i was afraid i would insult him forever.
He was very silent at first , but i could see in his eyes that there was a deeper , more silent secret hiding inside him.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it turns out mr.petit's real name is Tomey Rindboots and he is a bum from Chicago who has got himself involved in a dangerous waffle making mafia here in Prague.
Im still in shock.
The waffle business is owned by an Israeli/ Iraqi guy who had faith that the belgian waffle would be a great success here in Prague. Somehow it hasnt kicked off, but he is forcing Tomey Rindboots to make dough everyday and sell as many waffles as possible.
He is also being forced to eat all the waffles that he doesn't sell.
This is simply outrageous.
But that's not all, im afraid. His waffle boss has now invested a big sum of money in 300 pairs of earwarmers.
I dont know where this will all lead to but somehow i find it more risky than tight rope walking.
I have forgiven Tomey Rindboots for his terrible secret. It's not his fault.
Just a pity that the name of your best friend is mr.Rindboots instead of mr.petit.
But it's growing on me already. As i said , i am a great believer in postive thinking.

I leave you now with a very beautiful ballet called In the upper room
to the music of Phillip Glass.
Enjoy !

Monday, October 5, 2009

a night out in the forest

After my voice came back and that i found my health hiding in my closet inside my zebra dress and sparkly blue top, i decided it was time to go dancing.

The hairy growth on the right side of my face is not a pet rat but in fact a stick on side moustache , the latest rage in Prague. Has this fashion hit San Francisco or Antwerp yet ?

My friend Fillippe Petit , a tight rope walker by profession, joined me in these happy events. ( I highly reccomend you watch his latest film " Man on Wire " it is amazing ! here is the trailer to the film where they almost give away the whole story , but really go and watch it if you can ! )
So here i am , before i do some amazing dancing, blending in with the crowd of about ten people. I think it's in yorkshire language that one would say it was bustling.

No , i did not return to my village disco bar, i was right in the centre of Prague in a glittering cave where some band called Team Beat were making a video clip for their new song (sorry, no youtube video to show as of yet, that's how underground they really are ! but i have a signed orange hat with german text on it ! das ist koel jaa)

Now let me introduce you to Filippe, great guy, really, just wish he didnt tight rope walk so much on such high buildings, but he loves his job which is always a good thing i suppose.

Ach , wonderful guy , Fillippe , what can i say ?

Fillippe jumped straight away into some groovy dancing, as you can see here.

I think Fillippe enjoyed himself as well, he even got out his purple shiny turban which he wears only when crossing between buildings higher than 33O metres, dont ask me why, it's a long story, but between us, i think he's a bit of a show off.
But i think we can allow him this little frivolous indulgence.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from fame, being the only ones dancing in the cave, but we followed the sparkly disco balls calling us in the distance, and joined another nice party.

Ofcourse Fillippe and I were the stars of the evening and the dance floor but we are not selfish dancers and we give other brave people the chance to train a bit and reach our mastered level.

The sun is shining bright in Prague. greetings to you all !
Thanks S1 for the zebra dress, it is a success !
groovy gravy