Monday, September 24, 2012

Lots done!

To my utter disgust the pool was packed with kids this morning and that was only after I had more trouble than usual finding a parking space.  Horror piled on horror!

But, true to form I was beckoned by the ever-helpful staff towards a lane kept free for humans and I was able to complete my twenty minutes in customary solitude.

I chose to sit in the sun for my cup of tea to make up for the gloom of yesterday and read my on-going novel on my mobile phone.  This is a science fiction story called “The sun dragon” or “Dragons of the sun” or some combination of sun and dragon that I have seen so often I have forgotten it!  I have been reading this bloody book for what seems like most of my adult life.  I only read it when I have forgotten to bring my Kindle to the pool – and I am pretty good at remembering it so this is one of the most extended readings I have ever done.

Eventually I will give in and settle down with the damn thing one evening and get the thing read.  I was never really one to wait and delayed gratification is more a theory that a way of life for me!

Part of the morning was taken up with my attempt to short circuit Spanish bureaucracy. 

This was, of course, irrational on my part and I was duly put in my place and told to go away and make an appointment via the Internet so that I could come back to the place that I was already in.  If you see what I mean.  It says something for the length of time that I have been in this country that I did not even consider asking if I could make an appointment face to face as it were.  I left with the web site name.  And the appointment is now made.  Simple.

After restocking the yogurt shelves in the fridge after a duty visit to the supermarket and gratefully eating a lunch cooked by Toni’s mum who seems to be enjoying her respite cure, I rushed off to Barcelona to catch the exhibition that Suzanne has been encouraging me to go and see in the Fundació Joan Miro.

“Projecció” is an exhibition by Mona Hatoum whose only piece of work that I can be positive that I have seen previously is “Paravent” which is a metal articulated screen made in the form of various linked food graters!  Good to see it again.

After a first viewing of the items in the exhibition and then sitting in the courtyard of the museum sipping an ice-cold glass of Cava I was grateful for Suzanne’s insistence.

By far the most thought-provoking item for me was “Cube 9x9x9” constructed out of thin mental rods with a nod towards barbed wire.  I found this unsettling and disorientating; elegant and sinister.

The construction was severely symmetrical so that the observer could constantly create planes where none existed by seeing linked sequences of rod lines.  The transparency of the object allows, or rather forces, the viewer to see the horizontals and verticals and the inclined planes that form and are changed in an instant by the slightest movement of the head.

There are also lines that don’t “fit” in the symmetry of the internal structure of the object.  They put me in mind of the seemingly extraneous lines that complement the obvious geometry of squares and rectangles in Mondrian paintings.  They add mystery, they are like grace notes in music – ornamentation but essential to a full understanding.

I was drawn back to this object again and again, both attracted and frustrated by the dancing dynamics that the lines formed.  I felt constrained by the object almost as if it was dictating its observation: who was watching whom?

The “barbs” twisted around the rods seemed to have been placed at random to confuse and complicate the severity of the essential structure.

I think that ideas of authority, repression and, paradoxically freedom are all contained in this apparently simple form.

The other piece which stood out was “+ and –“ which was a metal arm revolving in a circular container filled with light coloured sand.  On half of the arm was serrated and left grooves in the sand while the other half of the arm was flat and smoothed the sand back to flatness.

Fairly obvious ideas of creation and destruction; the ying and the yang, and any other opposites you might think of come to mind, but I was more interested in the fact that the smoothed sand was not left as a featureless plain.  There were patterns left in the sand – obliteration failed!

Presumably dirt, dust, skin particles or visitors, moisture and the impossibility of perfection must all paly a part in making the sand “individual” in each installation in which is it is placed.  Also the imperfection of engineering must play its part.

It is fascinating that what should be a symbol of futility actually becomes a paean of praise to individuality.  To hell with entropy!

To describe some of the other pieces would be to belittle them – this is an exhibition in which you have to be there to appreciate the dramatic success of some things which may appear to be wilfully mundane if described in mere words.

All I can say is that if you get the chance to experience the work of Mona Hatoum you should take it.

Especially if you go to an exhibition in Barcelona on Mercé the specific day of fiesta for the city when entrance to museums is free!
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