Archive for the 'Art!' Category

Now off to Austria with You, Go On Now

Then I took a job teaching English in Austria.  I met some amazing people (teachers come from Budapest and Berlin) and hung out with some really amazing kids.  Three different weeks in three very different small towns.  Photos soon I promise!

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Bad Gastein

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Meeting Up with AA in Amsterdam

My backpack was huge, I had a painting wrapped in some crumpled paper and a scarf, and I was ready to unpack.  When I arrived at the Ron Mandos Gallery in Amsterdam I was disoriented, not just from the early plane ride or only sleeping the night before but because this was the plan, the idea, the layout that we had been imagining for months.

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I walked through the forest room, noting how the trees had come together since they’d fallen apart on moving day.  The Cabaret Room wasn’t done yet and when I saw the worktable and the tools I knew, it was comforting.  Within a half hour I was back to working along side the other interns again, hearing all about the highs and lows of the weeks I’d miss.

“It must be completely different for you to see it, since you’ve been away.  You have kind of an outsiders perspective.”

It was different for me.  I had been so enveloped by my responsibilities as an intern but after Rome and non stop working when I got to Morocco my brain kind of put it aside to look at a bigger picture.  To be honest in my bigger picture, AA wasn’t nearly as important as I had made it during the work.

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I also felt quite guilty about abandoning the other interns, it was obvious they’d done a lot of hard work while I was gone.  When it’s 4am and you’ve been working since 10am, you share a kind of look with the person who’s been working along side you, I had lost the right to have this glance exchange and honestly I think it was that rather than the work that kept me going most of the time.

Check Out the Work

Although a few days later, on opening night, I think we all felt it.  We were proud and excited about finally getting to this moment we had worked towards for so long.  We enjoyed ourselves at the after party, complete with Dub step DJs and the crew from Fuck for Forest.

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Then it was time to part ways, Pedro on the train to Berlin, Serena, Winnie, and I in the car with the DJs, Sebastian stayed to visit some old friends, and Ford’s parents were meeting him to drive through France.  All of a sudden we were wearing clothes that weren’t covered in paint and baushaum and it was kind of weird.

Overwhelmed

So I have too many photos and not enough time to write the stories that go with them.  I had so much to tell about Morocco but ended up just throwing the photos up there since I had been back for over a month and have even more trips to blog about since then.  I also just arrived back in the states, so even more to tell.  I’m going to try to catch up but it may take a while.  Luckily I’ve been keeping up with putting things on Flickr so, check out what your missing there.

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Barefoot in the Djemaa el Fna

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One of the many performers in the Djemaa el Fna (market square in Marrakesh)  it was hard to photograph them without being hasseled for money but I was pretty happy with this hip shot.

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When I was a little girl my father had a friend that came to visit us at our cabin in the woods.  I remember she was very beautiful in a way that was completely new to me; she wasn’t pretty like my class mates who had the coolest clothes or glamorous like the movie stars who effortlessly moved about the screen.  It was more like the beauty of my Mother, more truthful but hers was new and unfamiliar.

I don’t remember what she looked like but I remember she could walk barefoot across glass.  In my mind that became the answer to her beauty and mystery, it also became a vivid image that I can always look back on.  The following fall I vaguely remember telling a teacher that when I grew up I wanted to be a woman that could walk on anything.

While we were in Morocco I had some strange dreams, most of which left me with more ideas than exact images, but one of the dreams included walking on glass and this woman who amazed me so much as a little girl.  After the Hammam we went to the Djemaa el Fna where we rather spontaneously decided to get some henna.  We did not however think about how long the henna would need to sit and/or how cold the air would become in the next half hour.  So as they finished the Berber deigns and the sun went down we realized we’d have to find a place to sit for a while and we’d need to find it without putting our shoes on.

Now, as a kid I was barefoot everywhere and as an adult I take pleasure in grass between my toes in the right places.  As a girl who went to school in the city and has seen a few too many people use the subway as a toilet wearing flip flops in a city makes me a tad uncomfortable (too thin soled and open).  However, traveling changes the rules even if you didn’t think you had many.  Before I knew it I was walking across glass, laughing with my Sister, and appreciating the Moroccan street cleaners.

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Back at the Riad, playing with my flash and the bright orange of my freshly washed feet.

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Our Riad, gorgeous.

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No this is not for you, from me, not yet

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We woke up for our first day in Ouarzazate to beautiful weather, we had opted for the room ‘on the roof’ which was right near the washing station and a bit cheaper than those below.  Our hotel was a little quirky but we were excited that it had a pool and the owner was especially nice.

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Ouarzazate comes from the Berber phrase “without noise,” and carries the nickname “door to the desert” because for most people it’s where to stay before heading out to the Draa Valley.  Maybe it’s better to go there before the desert because coming from the desert Sister and I were not very impressed.  We walked around town and found mostly touristy shops with a sort of sad repetition of all things typically considered Berber and Moroccan.

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Construction site that seemed to be using the same ‘hold it up’ techniques as our desert tents.

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I still have no idea why the majority of trees in Morocco were painted white at the base.  If anyone knows please, tell me! It seemed to be only in towns and cities, ending on the outskirts and not happening at all in the countryside.

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Man loading bread into his car.

We headed to the Kasbah, a site which is highly recomended in Ouarzazate but were a bit unimpressed there as well.  Maybe it was our lack of research about Kasbah culture but other than being an interesting looking building with some beautiful ceilings it seemed to be more of the same- shops with traditional garb and shop owners constantly telling you, “Welcome, come inside take look.  Only a look, please.  You are welcome.”

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Kasbah

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Nearby there was a little market, most of the same desert clothing and painted pottery but one man had a sea of things that piqued my interest.  I wish I had taken his picture, he was just what you’d imagine, a bit hunched with leathery skin and eyes that looked just past you.  He didn’t say a word when I walked in, which was refreshing.  After sifting through some of the slightly sandy treasures he had out I was feeling good about my finds, I went to pay and something rather odd happened.  He laid out the odds and ends and quoted each with a price then took one of them away.  I haggled for a lower price on all the items together then asked how much for the little tree he’d taken back.  “No.”

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Me Optimistic: “Con bien?”

Him: “No.”

Me Confused: “Por qua?”

Him: “No, not you, no this.”

Me A little offended and confused: “Why not for me?”

Him: A lot of fast French.

Me feeling/looking like I’m 5

Him: More French, laughter, a sigh “Not now, this, not for you now.  Later.” then a lot more French that I didn’t understand.

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I was still confused, but after a lot of gesturing and trying to purchase four different types of objects that all had trees on them I realized that this man just knew he would not sell me specifically anything having to do with the tree of knowledge.  He couldn’t seem to tell me why.  It just was that way.  We both ended up shrugging our shoulders, I paid for my things and wondered what any of that meant.

Later we went back to the center of town and met another shop keeper, this one much less pushy (even the old man got pushy with other products in the midst of our ‘why you can’t have a tree’ conversation).  My Sister and I wanted to try on some pants and we asked for a place to try them on, he said of certainly, we could change there while he went across the street to grab a pot of tea.  And so he left us with his shop, closed the door, and after about ten minutes came back to share a pot of green tea with us.

First he poured the tea into the cups, then poured the cups back into the pot.  He did this three times.  I asked him why, expecting some romantic answer then feeling silly when he told me it was simply to mix the sugar into the tea.  Later while looking at a plate I almost knocked over the entire stack, I looked at him nervously and apologized.  He told me it’s good baraka when someone breaks something in your shop.  I asked why.  Just because it is. I wondered again about the old man, why I needed to know why something was.

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Later, the shop keeper walked us to the best tagine in town (leaving his shop unattended).

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The morning we left it was pouring and unfortunately during one of the many taxi strikes, but we made it just fine and boarded a nice CTM bus (like greyhound) bound for Marrakesh with plenty to think about and even more to just let be.

Mint Tea on a Hot Day in Fes

The Riad we stayed in didn’t seem real, gorgeous mosaic over every inch and an opening to the sky in the center so that the light of the day seeped in.

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We headed out, repeatedly having to remind each other that we were here in Morocco, taking the trip we’d talked about over dozens of dinners at Mogador.

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Fresh squeezed orange juice stands everywhere

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The way we look in Arabic

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Graveyard

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Lounging donkeys

My Sister and I have developed a great dynamic, we both like to see the sights and have those days that are so filled they feel like weeks when you look back on them but in order to appreciate them we also have lazy afternoons.  Plus she’s gotten really understanding about stopping a thousand times for me to take or take and retake photos.

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Spices in the Medina

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After getting our bus tickets, walking through the Medina, checking out the tanneries (where I haggled for a camel leather bag), and taking tons of pictures we ended up on a terrace sipping mint tea, playing cards, and smiling about how amazing everything was.

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Fes had the best mint tea

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The Tannery

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A Berber Pharmacy

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Cafe Clock view from above and lunch on the roof

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mint, everywhere

Before we left when my Sister was planning things she had asked me if I was ok with an overnight bus trip so that we would have enough time to see Fes and the desert.  I had almost scoffed at her worry; listen I’ve been working through nights lately a bus ride where we can sleep sounds nice.

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We met some Spanish clowns at the hotel bar

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Fresh Kefta, yes please.

And you know it could’ve been, we were prepared for nearly everything.  After having some wine at the one bar in Fes (inside a very nice hotel) we grabbed some delicious kefta kebab, had a coffee, used the bathrooms, bought some water and boarded the bus at 10pm.  We even had the whole back seat to ourselves to stretch out.dsc_0338

When you think of Morocco frigid temperatures don’t really come to mind, certainly not mine when I packed.  My Sister was able to run out and grab her pack at one of the stops since my coat was not doing the job.  As we drove through the High Atlas Mountains we proceeded to layer on every item of clothing my Sister had packed, with the holes in the seats opening directly to the air whizzing past the speeding bus it was really no use.  We hugged each others feet and shivered our way to Merzouga.

290 x 290 x 500

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Four trucks at that size and one with an extra meter in length; all of them to be packed full with the contents of the installation we’d been working on for months.

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Moving days are always stressful and we knew some things would go wrong.  We had to be efficient with the space and make sure we weren’t forgetting anything.

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For all the elements and all the things that could’ve gone wrong, I think it went exceptionally well.  By the end we were all battered and bruised but it was satisfying to get the point we had talked about for so long.
Around 5am I caught the train home and took a shower in the light of dawn before grabbing my pack and heading back to HBF where I caught the train to Frankfurt.

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And here I want to mention a thank you to my Step Dad Andy.

Whenever we flew anywhere we had to get to the airport no later than two hours before our departure time and usually more like three.  I used to do a bit of eye rolling at this but nowadays I find myself doing the same.

In any case when I took the train from Berlin to Frankfurt Airport it’s a good thing I had that rule of leaving lots of extra time ingrained in my head.  As it turns out there are two Frankfurt airports and I needed to be at the very tiny one (Frankfurt Hahn) about a 45 minute bus ride from the one I anticipated leaving from (Frankfurt International Airport).  Thanks Andy!

Never Like This

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Hours of work had been getting longer and I’d been sleeping less, but after almost a month of agonizing over whether to go to Morocco with my Sister or Amsterdam with the studio I had finally come to a decision.

I would do both. Plus I would go to Rome.

Two of the other interns had been working on these columns for the Rome show and it was assumed one of them would attend one of the artists to set it up. Once I heard the show was happening in the beginning of April (Morocco and Amsterdam were both set to happen during the second and third week) I offered to go in exchange for missing the first weeks of set up in Amsterdam.

So there I was standing in the shower trying to remember how to conjugate Italian verbs and wondering if I needed to pack anything other than work clothes. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a special relationship with Italy. I studied and lived there, learned Italian, and planned to move there before a weekend trip to Berlin changed things. I knew it would be wonderful to be back in a place where I could understand the language and see a culture I admire but I was a bit nervous, like seeing an ex that knows you better than your current love.

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We ended up working the entire time we were there, no sleeping, and certainly no time for idle chat or reflection. I left Ed behind to continue working and only in the last moments en route to the airport did I start to realize how strange it felt to be returning home to Germany from Italy. While I was chatting with one of the women at the gallery I told her I had once planned on moving to Rome but changed my mind for Berlin. She paused and nodded her head, “you made the choice that was right.”

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I made my way back to Berlin alone, drifting between dream filled sleep and deep reflection.  It seemed so wrong to be returning home on a two hour flight away from Italy but, to be honest, it felt so good to go back home to Berlin.

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Sundays

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Museum fur Naturkunde Berlin

I kept going back to this post to finish writing it, saving the draft after writing a few sentences and adding a few photos, then coming back a few days later to find that my thoughts had completely changed.  It started as a post about feeling stuck and rather lazy but then I was going through my photos and I realized I’ve been doing a lot of amazing things.  I suppose I paid more attention to the couple days of guilt ridden laziness than I did to the weeks of work and exploring the city.

The Natural History Museum was fabulous, as Natural History Museums almost always are.  My favorite is the Specola Museum in Florence and of course you can’t go wrong with the NHM in New York.  This one in Berlin holds the record for the tallest mounted dinosaur skeleton though,the Brachiosaurus brancai measuring in at 43 ft 6 in high.  And they had a great Darwin exhibit up.

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Artwork with Matchbooks from the Scala Opening

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View from the second floor of the AA Studio

Highlights

It’s been a while.  My procrastination tendancies have shifted recently, instead of ignoring things like excersize and openings across town for books, long meals, and blogging it’s been the other way around.  I think it’s because Spring is coming.  Whatever the reason I’m trying to embrace the change of pace.

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The kids artwork in the bathtub

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Winnie with the world at her back after work

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The coffee mugs that were.

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The day we didn’t work and sipped coffee all day instead.

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I wish I could live in a lamp shop.  I love them.

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Blumen (flower) Shop in the U Bahn station.


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