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.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post S2, so nice to read, and yes the Plantin Moretus Museum is engraved in my memory. By the way, i have a lovely photograph of you sitting in the sunshine of the courtyard soaking up the magigal atmosphere. I like the word fingerspitzengefuhl.
Love S3

Anonymous said...

Hello SisterS ..

I've been reading your blog for a while, always beautiful images and escapades, makes me happy to visit you three from time to time :)

I'm planning my (real) first trip to Europe and was wondering if maybe you feel like giving me some advice about speacial places in your favorite cities? I will be in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Berlin and maybe.. Prague. I'm 20 years old, a dancer, travelling by myself (I will also audition at PARTS ahahah), interesting in performance and video art, like tea, coffee, cake, wine, fleamarkets, old clothes, old bathing houses..

Olga from HONG KONG