Friday, March 30, 2012

Justitie Palais

I have already mentioned the new court house in Antwerp, the one that has resemblance with nostalgic newspaper cones. This package was used by french fries sellers, was made of newspapers and became a symbol of good old days in Flanders. I don't know if I like Justitie Palais or not, in any case I always feel a slight discrepancy between design and function. In our post-modernistic times 100 hundred year old rules about design that should follow function are not meticulously observed anymore. It looks more like an airport or an exhibition center to me. A friend of mine who saw photos taken yesterday night thought that it is a train station. Some photos are here (not mine). I haven't done anything with my photos yet, not good at it)so I place them as they are.

on the opposite side of the square

The last stop of the tram is under the staircase of the building. It is quite windy on the stairs leading to the palace. Funny thought : it's good that the judges don't wear wigs in Belgium.

Antwerp at night

My tripod wouldn't turn the camera for making a vertical shot but I couldn't pass these
beautiful Art-Nouveau facades without taking some photos

Enough concrete

My concrete essay has been finished (I hope) but shortened to readable size and is missing some interesting stories I first planned to insert. I haven't written about a girl with an oar which was a symbol of a socialist way of life and a source of numerous jokes, whose ugly concrete copy could be found in any park. What later became a metaphor of Soviet propaganda was first created by Ivan Shadr as a beautiful sculpture of a slender girl standing nonchalantly in the middle of a huge recreational park in the centre of Moscow.

There were however two problems with the girl that caused her exile to a far-away town Lugansk. She was made of a very light cement variety, white coloured body looked so shockingly realistic. The second problem was her size. 8 meters of sexually appealing nudity in the middle of the park where citizens were supposed to relax and do sports was a challenge to socialist morals. The next version of "The girl with an oar' was grey and much smaller in size. In the meantime the idea was cloned and 'The girl with an oar" became present in all the parks but she was given more muscles and she was dressed.
They loved big sculptures back in the Soviet Union, they still love them in Russia, the bigger the better. A huge monument to Artem by Kavaleridze created in the 1927 (photo wikipedia).

The second story was about concrete German bunkers which can be found all over Belgium. One of the first examples of modular construction, they were built from prefab elements in a very short period of time. Once sinister they are now becoming a part of the nature turning into stones covered with moss. Water dropping through the ceilings of bigger underground bunkers forms stalagmites that crack under the feet as you walk along the corridors. Left unattended they will soon lose their connection with the most tragic years of European history. Some of the bunkers were demolished because people didn't want to see this reminder of war but soon they found out that the price of demolition was too high and it's cheaper to change the attitude towards them. I know bunkers transformed into chicken and garden sheds, electricity high-voltage cabins and this climbing wall in Sint-Katalijne-Waver (photo-flickr)

I also didn't write about concrete war memorials and museums , concrete in interior design, concrete in photography and many other things, but it's time to say good bye))

Friday, March 2, 2012

Silent 'Sound wave'

Artists often  use a finished product for the piece of art,  ‘found objects’ for example. No matter which object you choose, the original material will be present, sometimes inconspicuously.

The exhibition at the museum of Art and Design in 2008 featured this installation of  Jean Shin, made of old vinyl plates. It looks like a Hokusai picture, but the artist named  it  ‘Sound Wave’ underlying the connection between the object(plate), material(vinyl, still used in music industry) and the idea that the viewer would have looking at it. (photo NY Times)

Another thought-provocing installation of Jean Shin – ‘Chance city” where she built a city of ruined dreams and lost hopes by using discarded lottery tickets.

The sheer amount of similar objects could make a strong impression, especially when artist uses these objects in an unexpected way.

'Long-term parking' by Lorent Mutzig 

Another example, the installations of Matej Kren, and Tom Bendtsen  known for their book-staking art.  Being a bookish person I was greatly impressed by the massiveness of the paper-made construction and the huge amount of books gathered together for this purpose. Strangely, this use of books didn’t arouse any protest inside, though in my parents’ home no book could have been treated disrespectfully. No page could have been thumbed with a wet dirty finger and no pencil was allowed for making notes on the margins.  The fact that all the  precious books were removed from the circulation and degraded to the state of bricks didn’t bother me anymore when I saw familiar covers stacked in the forms of pillars and walls. The associative sequel went all the way from paper- (light, perishable)-book (source of knowledge and emotional experience)-stack of books (heavy, very heavy) to a massive construction (stability, thick walls) and back to thousands of books and amount of unattainable knowledge hidden in this unusual building looking like a medieval fortress.