Day 5. Das Konzert im Ei

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Das Konzert im Ei (1550/75), anonymous copy on Hieronymus Bosch.

The magic world of Bosch consists of symbols, objects and animals. Grotesque comes from the seriousness within absurdity.

What a bunch of yokels living in an egg (pun intended)!

And what a bunch of thieves! Ravens are stealing bread from the food basket, a man behind the lute-playing goat is stealing the singer’s wallet, a single hand breaking out of the shell, reaching for the fish under the scrutiny of a cat. And the tiny kingdom in the pantofle, stealing our attention away from its dark little corner.

Such a loud, bizarre scene! When one looks at Bosch’s pictures, one’s gaze never stops wandering around. “Watching” might be a more suitable word, for it is an occurrence, a process of discovering. A strange composition of countless unrelated elements, like a chant in dissonance, like a song of fools.

Snake on a tree, he lost his apple in the basket; monkey plays an oboe, turtle turns away; a man with a house on his head is peeking at us, and so is the red eyed owl. And shh…don’t scare the white crane away!

Day 4. Time Traveller

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Bronx Floors: Four-way Wall (1973) by Gordon Matta-Clark.

A space only exists through its own confining. A room only exists through its four walls. In this sense, what Matta-Clark does is to redefine, to break through the walls, to reframe.

Destruct also creates. The lacking of bricks and stones gives birth to new dimensions. The paradox of architecture.

The pillar in the middle, isn’t he a time traveller (or better, a »space traveller«)? Standing solemnly at the intersection of four universes, he who builds them separately, also links them into one. A man living in four worlds.

Shall he be taken away, what happens now?

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The exhibition of Louise Bourgeois »I have been to hell and back«(2015) in Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The design of the room reminds me of the pillar of Matta-Clark, or rather the lack of it. Our gaze isn’t blocked or manipulated anymore. Reframing is now everywhere and nowhere, for it becomes a spiral, a splitting labyrinth divided in three (and then six).

We feel disoriented, suddenly the urge comes – to climb over, to step onto the middle point of the low white barricades. To become the time traveller ourselves!

To exist in all universes. That must be what God feels like.

(And in the end, »God« was chased out of the museum by securities.)

Day 3. Auferstehung

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Auferstehung (1914) by Hermann Steiner.

Could painting express something in a way that music does? The answer is probably no. But this bleak and powerful representation of Resurrection might be the closest thing to Mahler’s second symphony, Auferstehung.

»Die Symphonie muss sein wie die Welt. Sie muss alles umfassen.«

To experience Mahler in a concert hall is so drastically different from Mahler on a CD. He is to be experienced, erlebt. The visual effect of the giant body of orchestra alone is violent, enchanting. The music so cosmic, that it’s almost physical, piercing through skins and bones and tearing time apart.

Col legno with wooden bows – the sound of bones clacking. Con sordino for violin and trompete – a thin layer of paper wrapping around fire. Percussions, double-bass, earthquake and storm. A Todesschrei stretching into the grey blue space of echoing silence. Horn playing from afar, voice of Jenseits. And why have you lived? Why have you suffered? Is everything nothing but a big terrible joke? (»Warum hast du erlebt? Warum hast du erlitten? Ist das alles nur ein großer, furchtbarer Spaß?«)

Mit Flügeln, die ich mir errungen…

Werde ich entschweben.

Sterben werd’ich, um zu leben!

Aufersteh’n, ja aufersteh’n wirst du,

Mein Herz, in einem Nu!

Was du geschlagen,

Zu Gott wird es dich tragen!

(Friedrich Klopstock)

Day 2. Tod und Mädchen

 

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Tod und Mädchen (1915) by Egon Schiele.

Das Mädchen:
Vorüber! Ach, vorüber!
Geh, wilder Knochenmann!
Ich bin noch jung, geh Lieber!
Und rühre mich nicht an.

Der Tod:
Gib deine Hand, du schön und zart Gebild!
Bin Freund, und komme nicht, zu strafen.
Sei gutes Muts! ich bin nicht wild,
Sollst sanft in meinen Armen schlafen!

(Matthias Claudius, 1774)

But there, she grasps his shoulder, hanging on like he was life.The hug so desperate, her kneeling body like that of a disciple.To hug the snake-like corpse of death. Why not?

Together they float in the burning fire of hell, in a cocoon made of her delicate illusion of love, a thin layer of white white sheet.

A moment of truth, before he took away Wally’s heart, his red-haired muse.

It’s such a cliché love story.

Day 1. Who’s afraid?

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Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III (1967/68) by Barnett Newman, after the attack on 21 March 1986.

Is it appropriate to begin with a broken piece, with such a violent death of art?

Wir haben große Angst.

The cuts themselves are calm, assured. Almost surgical. One, two, three, a little bit of variation at the top. The wounds are not bleeding, we see bones. Teeth in a gaping mouth.

Who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue? And who’s afraid to see the truth?

The truth, that art is nothing but a frame, paints and a thin layer of canvas. What’s left behind that?

The illusion broken, tears shed, people are afraid.

They used to try very hard to capture the vivid life of red, yellow and blue with their cameras. Now only black and white in a posture of mourning.

Where have all the colours gone? They were not stripped away by the man with knife. They were not dead, but people say they were and so they were indeed.

Yet it was a beautiful death.

And then, another man killed death with a roller and house paints and called it restoration.

Who’s afraid now?