Monday, 24 November 2014


I've decided to dance when gravity becomes too much. So I twirl around, never on my own in a world of sound.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Lonely Souls

This past weekend I went to Bremen, again with the international students. It was miserable, gray and the kind of cold that infiltrates your bones and refuses to leave for the next months. Even our arrival at the central station was marked by how unspectacular everything there was: simply another big building with groups of anti-establishment homeless young adults and other homeless skulking about, reeking of beer and piss. The city tour was immensely boring as the lady who showed us around did not seem to notice that she was talking to students and not a group of geriatrics. Luckily that evening some of us went out and met up with my friend Pina, with whom we ended up at a gay club, dancing to Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and other 90s hits.

As half the group is Catholic, we attended mass in the Bremer Cathedral, which must have been the first time in years that I sat through a sermon. More interesting that being preached to were the stained glass windows and the architecture of the cathedral. Afterwards, a Russian girl accompanied me to the Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, which divides its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions between 5 floors.

After exploring four floors and contemplating rooms filled with Rothko-ish colour paintings, children's drawings and cultural artifacts exhibited next to art works we opened the door to a black room in the fifth floor. Initially I thought it would be another strange video installation that I refused to suffer through, but Richard Mosse's The Enclave (2012) was miraculous.

Four large screens formed a rectangle in the middle of the dark room, with a screen hanging at a distance on two more sides (so 6 screens in total). We went into the rectangle and focused on the film shown on only one of them, the rest were blank, bathed in black. The film showed what looked like a refugee camp in between strangely pink hills, with African people moving out of the camera's way as it progressed through the makeshift village. As we followed the camera's path, the other screens went on and suddenly we were overwhelmed by this pink colour that did not seem to fit the suffering these people must have endured (and are still enduring).

Turns out the footage was filmed on 16mm infrared film, used during wartime to differentiate between plants and people as the chlorophyll in the plants shows up in red-pink tones. For this film alone it was worth going to Bremen.

Richard Mosse: The Impossible Image from Frieze on Vimeo.

Friday, 21 November 2014

If I don't have to

Arnold Böcklin, Die Toteninsel (The Isle of the Dead), 1883
During this month of November I have been gone more than I have been here. Throw in a darkness that clung to me like bubblegum to a shoe, well, then let us say it was the best of months and the worst of months, and it isn't even over yet. 

One of the first trips was to Berlin, accompanying the international students to the capital. That weekend the conductors of the Deutsche Bahn (the rail services) decided to strike. Luckily we took the arduous journey from Flensburg to Berlin by bus, but in the city transport was made more difficult as the S-Bahn was striking as well. Luckily we could get to most places by U-Bahn and managed to see the Festival of Lights, an old DDR Prison (Stasi-Museum near Lichterfelde), go on a walking tour of the city, visit some museums on the Museumsinsel, do a little shopping, go out to a club in an old furniture factory and spend the last hours enjoying beautiful sunshine at the Mauerpark. For 72hours, we really did cram it in. Nevertheless, I doubt the students realise how stressful it is to look after them. At times it felt like having 25 children who could legally get drunk. 

A good distraction from being mother/mean-bitch to 25 people who are just a few years younger was taking one of the other tutors to the museum island. I should perhaps be more of an art connoisseur, given that it is partially what I studied. But I find art to be an extremely subjective thing, dependent on mood and timing and how an individual reacts to a work. The Isle of the Dead is mesmerizing to me, although inexplicably so. In total Böcklin painted 5 versions, four of which survive to this day (one was burnt during WWII). I have seen the Berlin and the Leipzig versions, and both made me want to disappear into the work, rather than having to quietly tip-toe around it at a distance. 

The Festival of Lights was astounding on a different level. For one night many famous buildings have various images projected on them as citizens walk around and observe the city at night. That weekend Berlin really pulled out all the stops, as on our last day there we soaked up the sun in the Mauerpark as various artists played music all around us. We also had the best Vietnamese dish I have ever tasted (it was some kind of beefy broth, but not really having tasted Vietnamese before this was perfectly spiced). All that remained was a long ride in a crowded bus back to a tiny city that keeps playing hide and seek with the light.