Friday, December 3, 2010

Lust and Vice: The 7 Deadly Sins from Dürer to Nauman

Lust and Vice: The 7 Deadly Sins from Dürer to Nauman
While we were at the Zentrum Paul Klee to see a Paul Klee exhibit we also got a chance to see another exhibit sponsored jointly with the Kunstmuseum, Bern. The exhibit was called Lust and Vice. The 7 Deadly Sins from Dürer to Nauman (15 October 2010 – 20 February 2011). Part of the exhibit was at the Zentrum and part at the Kunstmuseum. From Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528) to Bruce Nauman (1941 - ) artists have been preoccupied with the theme of the sin. Christianity has thought it through and given us a short list of the sins considered deadly, the Seven Deadly Sins, usually given as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. The exhibit catalogs these sins in a variety of media. Some of the exhibit works and some doesn’t. It was exhausting (or maybe we were) to go through it all. Luckily, exhaustion isn’t on the list of seven. 

Seven Deadly Sins On the Kunstmuseum in NeonSeven Deadly Sins On the Kunstmuseum in Neon

Paul Klee – Farbe, Form & Linie

Zentrum Paul Klee - In Bern, Switzerland

The exhibit Paul Klee – Farbe, Form & Linie (11.9.2010 – 16.1.2011) was an exhibit we saw at the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern. Paul Klee (1879 – 1940) was a German-Swiss painter who produced works in the early twentieth century that crossed several styles including expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. The exhibit’s goal was to “examine the way in which the oeuvre of Paul Klee addresses the elements of picture composition and design. One of its focal points is the interplay and tension that exist between the main elements of pictorial representation, i.e. line, form and color.” It’s hard to appreciate that tension, especially on the first exposure to Klee’s work beyond what you might pick up from popular culture. Klee’s shapes and colors seem simple and innocent and it is easy to dismiss them as something you’ve seen a thousand times before. Yes, you probably have, just imitations and homages and distillations. You have to remind yourself of the time he lived and worked. Not until after the exhibit, in further research, did we appreciate Klee’s struggle to master color (fabre) theory.

The building that houses Klee’s collection (about 40% of Klee’s pictorial work) is the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern (outside city center), Switzerland. The iconic, undulating building designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano is a work of art itself. We got to see it under a blanket of snow and it was a welcoming relief to enter and shed our jackets and the cold. There are some great interior views of the building at the architectural-oriented site, Here’s the entrance of the Zentrum.

Exhibit Brochure
Paul Klee - Farbe, Form and Linie Brochure
Paul Klee - Farbe, Form and Linie Brochure

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Geneva – MAMCO

One of our “snow days” in Morges with Wild Dingo was to visit Geneva’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Museum which goes by the acronym MAMCO. We remember fondly being taken to task by a Seattle gallery owner about the difference between “modern” and “contemporary”… who knew he would be so picky about semantics? The difference between modern and contemporary is that modern refers to Modernism – an art movement or practice, and contemporary refers to a time, now minus 10 to 50 years depending on who you ask, that characterizes when a piece of art was created.

So, at MAMCO, the distinction between modern and contemporary was lost on us and thankfully no one quizzed us. We walked around bewildered. We really didn’t know what to make of what we saw. We laughed, we winced, we explored, we delighted when we decoded a piece or installation, and we even relieved ourselves in an art piece. Well, let us explain. Two of the installations were bathrooms, Toilettes femmes designed by Étienne Bossut, Philippe Parreno, Stéphane Steiner and Toilettes hommes designed by Philippe Ramette, Stéphane Steiner. Well done pieces and functional.

There is work at MAMCO that we never had seen before and quite possibly may never again. For example, an exhibit on Gérald Minkoff, Un portrait and Bujar Marika, Paradox Park. So on the whole, MAMCO was an interesting and thought-provoking stop. What else could you ask of modern, uh, we mean - we think - contemporary art?

We took a train from the Morges train station to Geneva’s and then jumped on a tram to Plainpalais. From Plainpalais go west to find the 10, rue des Vieux-Grenadiers (approximate location).

MAMCO Entrance

Wild Dingo and Travelmarx Shadows

Wild Dingo and Travelmarx Superimposed – Nord 2

Robert Morris – Open Center Sculpture, 1997


Our Snowy Starting Point in Morges
We ended up taking the train.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CERN – A Universe of Particles

CERN - Universe of Particles
The Universe of Particles is an exhibit a CERN that you can visit for free. The exhibit is housed in the Globe of Science and Innovation across the road from CERN reception (location). How ironic that the size of the globe is about that of Saint Peter’s in Rome and that CERN chooses to use that analogy, at least on their web site. One structure stands as symbol of an organization that asks questions about the universe and puts the answers through rigorous analysis. The other structure stands as quite an impressive architectural feat from an organization that took 359 years (with a 13 year investigation!) to acknowledge that Galileo was right: the earth revolves around the sun. Sorry, that still makes us wince here at Travelmarx. We hold grudges.

Back to the goodies at CERN. Also accessible from the CERN reception area is the exhibition Microcosm that helps give you the background you need to understand what goes on at CERN. It is free to visit as well. A good order would be to visit Microcosm first and then go to the Universe of Particles exhibit. Okay, back to religion. While at the Microcosm exhibit, we wandered around, mostly alone with the exhibits and then suddenly a small group appeared and gathered in a corner to hear a presentation that what is being discovered at CERN was in fact in harmony with religious belief. We listened for a few moments and then left to head over to the Universe of Particles. At the exhibit in the globe, we found our own kind of prophet, a docent who had worked at CERN for many, many years. He didn’t turn any water into wine, but was able to talk about what was going on at CERN very articulately, enough for us.

The Universe of Particles has lots of cool information on very mod looking information stations (globes) with innovative touch interaction methods. The overall experience, changing colors, periodic mini-shows and the occasional docent-prophet is worth a visit. For details on the guided tour at CERN, see this entry.

More Views of the Universe of Particles and the Ever-Changing Show
CERN - Universe of Particles
CERN - Universe of Particles
CERN - Universe of Particles
CERN - Universe of Particles

The Globe of Science and Innovation – Outside

Exploring at the Universe of Particles Exhibit

A Docent Talking Physics

Visiting CERN

A CERN Guide Discusses the Inside of a Collider Section
CERN guided tour
During our week in Morges we encountered snow that eventually postponed our flight from Geneva to London for two days (not so bad – more time with Wild Dingo) but also opened up other possibilities. One of those possibilities was getting on a guided tour of CERN. On the CERN web site it suggests that tours should be booked in advance and when we inquired the day before we actually go, there was no space. We didn’t think about touring CERN before we left on the trip, it only occurred to us while we were in Switzerland. A little disappointed with the availability of the tour, we decided to visit CERN anyway and at least see the Universe of Particles exhibit. But, the weather played in our favor it seems because there was space on a group tour – no shows. Hah, we were in luck.

CERN stands for Conseil European pour le Recherche Nucléaire, or in English, the European Organization for Nuclear Research and it is headquartered just outside of Geneva straddling the Swiss and French borders. At CERN, particles are smashed together in high-energy physics experiments to understand questions like how the universe began. The building blocks of matter and the forces that hold them together are studied with particle accelerators. In accelerators, particles reach speeds near that of light and are smashed together or against a target to see what results. The main accelerator these days is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which is housed in a tunnel 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) in circumference and 50-100 meters (164 - 328 feet) underground. The tunnel runs under Switzerland and France.

So we lucked out and caught an English tour that is usually booked out months in advance. On the tour a guide takes us step by step through step through the construction of an accelerator section such as the section that would make up the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). We don’t actually visit the LHC which is operating, but a facility that tested the sections. The tour is great – geek heaven. It lasts from 10:00 to 12:00 and then we spend a few hours at the Universe of Particles. For details of that visit, see this entry.

CERN General Brochure
CERN brochure
CERN brochureCERN brochureCERN brochure

Large Hadron Collider Brochure
LHC brochure
LHC brochureLHC brochureLHC brochure

CERN – Testing Facility
CERN tour

CERN tour