Showing posts from 2013

"Speak yourself"

Is this the quintessence of what art is all about? 

Except, it could not be any farther from what art is supposed to be - in theory.

The painting consists of two layers. A background of random color bombing onto the wall to symbolize the authorities' need to give up their control. On top of that the precision of the stencil with the representation of the vocal cords at the center. Almost violent in their black and white shadowing with paint running from them. A painting on what a painting cannot do. Movement and sound.
And yet the vocal cords are portrayed with such violence that we feel the strain in our own vocal cords when confronted with it. It is a head calling, screaming, singing out. Botho Strauss has a wonderful scene in his "Wohnen Dämmern Lügen" in which a singer performs Das Lied von der Erde with all movement, all power concentrated around her mouth, her vocal cords tense all the way down to the collarbones. Her mouth is framing that unbelievable gift of mus…

"Everything can be excused apart from the drawing!"

It was so sad not hearing his voice, because you rarely got in many words when he was around. Yesterday my brother and I paid our last respects to our one-of-a-kind uncle who passed away last Sunday. We had a quiet time with him at the chapel reading him poems by Nizar Qabbani and Aboul-Qacem Echebbi and all the while he looked as if he fought to sit up to have his say because a new idea had just popped up.

All children should have such an uncle. He was an incorrigibly curious intellectual, always asking, always playing with possible explanations. He would pose at least two hypotheses to you on the phone. When it was possible to reach him by phone, that is. He was a specialist on the Middle East and when he gave sound, it was usually from some new place between the Mediterranean and Afghanistan from where he would refer to a handful of languages, noting the development of certain words from one language to another, which might indicate…(insert next hypothesis here)...

- and so it was…

A Strange Kind of Love



Kære Ven,
Du spørger, efter vores TV udsendelse igår aftes,  hvad jeg har imod Richard Winthers hus, nu åbnet som museum i Vindeby på Lolland???

"To the Warmongers"

"I am back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell;
Secrets of death to tell;
And horrors from the abyss (…)
"(…) Young faces bleared with blood,
Sucked down into the mud,
You shall hear things like this,
Till the tormented slain
Crawl round and once again,
Moan out their brutish pain (…)"

The quoted lines above open the poem To the Warmongers by Siegfried Sassoon were written when he was wounded in hospital in 1917. A poem of a young man having seen too much to an extent that it becomes an existential question whether this is life? Is this what lies at the core of human life which we usually do our best to hide, or is this what should never be? Are these the eyes of someone who has seen the truth?

To which there are no answers and yet the first answer lies right in front of us: The atrocities of World War I were manmade. Someone was culpable just as they are responsible in Egypt today, a new set of warmongers in military uniform, this time when meeting the pro…

On the Importance of Not Obeying

Lately I have been involved in at once very difficult and very positive dialogues with ALS-patients, who feels the time is creeping closer when they have to make the decision whether to choose a ventilator. It is a choice between life and death, and there is no simple answer to the question.

However, as many doctors are against ventilators, they are very persuasive in talking their patients out of it. Consequently the said doctors are at worst putting themselves into the position of Higher Beings with the word to decide for or against:

The non-consensual witness

"Oh, but you can be sure that the Norwegian political prisoners are not treated as well as this".

Norwegian political prisoners

In Scandinavia we have had no such thing as political prisoners since the time of my great-great-great-great-grandparents. The fact that the remark was in the tone from one who has seen too much, was an all too telling glimpse of the reality the young in this case Northern Africa is facing. Today Zwewla made a one-eyed happening to mark the brutal repression of last year's demonstration in Siliana against poverty and for the release of prisoners withheld since April 2011. 300 were injured, many of whom with serious eye-injuries. The strategy is the same every time, the protesters can easily be detected afterwards. Unless everyone wears an eye patch:

Of Necessity and Destruction

While protesters were busy destroying a new memorial at the Tahrir Square, the artists were no less occupied in the Mohamed Mahmoud Street demolishing their own works and those of their colleagues.

Demolishing is perhaps not the right word here. Camouflaging they call it in the vein of what the military does. Dazzle paint in pink, hiding the artworks just as the truth is hidden in Egypt by its men in power. Add to that that the artists have taken on the very action of their adversaries, a demonstration of who is has the upper hand.

"Cheap metal in the limbs"

Back in Ancient Rome when the Christians had to communicate in secret across the city they drew a fish as their symbol. "Fish", ichtus in Greek, is in sound fairly close to the name of Christ, while not easily figured out by the Romans since the fish and Christians are not a direct match.

The example above is but one of how to communicate within a group safe from the world outside. But in Syria the opposite situation is at hand.

Actors on the historical stage - The next chapter


A little outcry on a Friday

Et lille torsdags-skrig på en fredag



I mange år har man, fejlagtigt ganske vist, ment og påstået og doceret at sport var sundt.
Eliteidræt ovenikøbet det allersundeste, både for udøvernes kroppe og folkets sjælelige sundhed. Aldrig har jeg hørt mage til sludder.

"my revolt, my freedom, and my passion"

"Thus I draw from the absurd three consequences, which are my revolt, my freedom, and my passion"

In Tunisia Willis has already tested the shock opening of Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus, whether life is worth living as the fundamental question. If the answer is no, then there after all is no reason for any further step in life or philosophy. Nadia Khiari qua Willis deliberately gave an ambiguous answer, but that had direct links to the socio-political circumstances she is addressing. Camus on the other hand found a rather happy conclusion in the pause given to Sisyphus each time his stone is rolling back down where it came from:

"That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock"
Per Marquard Otzen marks the centenary of the birth of Albert Camus w…

Actors on the historical stage

"Images are not just a particular kind of sign, but something like an actor on the historical stage"

Oh yes.

Bluebeard would be jealous

When a measly passageway downstairs turns out to be a sumptuous foliage in glowing orange as painted by Valdemar Andersen there is every reason to gorge on the rest of the villa.

In fact you are welcomed at very the entrance by the Olympian gods enjoying the good life on land and sea alike. Mermen are stealing young women, while the sea horses of Poseidon are leaping out of the water.

Valdemar Andersen created a string of meetings melting into a frieze encircling not just the hallway, but the staircase and the first floor landing. In the busy environment of entrance and staircase that is all about movement, the role of the gods is to create a room within the room of contented well-being.

The sea-creatures are active along the stairs, but even they have a certain Northern serenity to them as the colouring is airy and on a background of white today.

On land the gods' interactions are of a more indirect nature. His reds as seen above are reflected in the draping of her blue garments…

Only for the chosen few

Imagine to have one's own castle with an intimate passageway downstairs of swirling brocade leading to a den of sin.
The passageway and the den very much exist, albeit the castle is of the size of a villa. Built in 1921 on Solsortvej 68 at Frederiksberg in Copenhagen, it takes a strong individual to dare live in it, which is the very best thing about this: The villa has so obviously been enjoyed as it was intended.

The acanthus leaves on the walls were painted by Valdemar Andersen as a means to disguise the doors along the passageway. They are after all leading to the utility rooms, all too practical for the handful of gentlemen back then, who probably did not even know where to find the kitchen in their own homes (as the story goes - "somewhere in that direction is it?") and in the mood for playing a game of pool -  snooker or pool, I have no idea, let's just call it pool - while smoking cigars. 
We will get to the gentlemen and their cigars in the next blogpost, ri…

"Poverty is the worst form of violence"

- as Mahatma Gandhi made clear and so he became a stencil by the mural protesters in a new century.

Zwewla addresses poverty in their very name. Poverty is a violence exercised by those (few?) in power, but as soon as poverty is named, it is a warning too against those (still few?) in power. A warning in three stages as painted on the walls in Sidi Bouzid, a significant city in this respect, in the beginning of October 2013:

1. Apathy

They are almost 90 years apart the Danish poster by Valdemar Andersen from 1927 and the Tunisian mural by Zwewla of this year. 
Yet they are remarkably alike in their black rendering of the body locked in the apathy of unemployment. In the poster the child is trying to reach his father, whereas in the mural it is the child itself that is outside the reach of the outside world in the apathy that characterizes the whole family when unemployment strikes. 

Poverty has its iconography in art like any other. Or maybe we should say we have two sides of this type o…
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