Archive for the 'By Metro/Subway' Category

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.

Leibovitz Lecture

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Last week I had some amazing luck and ended up with a ticket to the sold out Annie Leibovitz lecture at the C|O Berlin where her retrospective is up, “A Photographer’s Life.”  The space was beautiful and walking past the giant line felt pretty great, turns out Germans love her; I saw a “Willkommen Annie” cover story on at least 3 big newspapers the day she arrived.

I know a lot of photographers don’t feel this way.  My room mate, for one, who was her first assistant for many years back in the 90’s.  Fortunately for me he didn’t really feel like going (apparently she can be more than rude on set) and thus I ended up with his ticket.  A lot of other photographers who have never actually worked with her, like me, kind of cringe about her because she’s become one of those names.  You know, like Ansel Adams or (more full on cringe here) Anne Geddes.   The type people who don’t know much about Photography mention whilst in awkward getting to know you conversations with a photographer.  I know I’ve had to surpress an eye roll on more than one occasion when people mention those names, it’s happened to the best of us.

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All that said when Leibovitz walked in, I stood on my tippy toes to see her and later on found myself taking as many photos as I could while she was nearby.  She’s a household name for a reason and although I still don’t get Anne Geddes I had a similar experience with Ansel Adams in which I went to a retrospective show and was floored by the beauty of his prints.  Sometimes there’s reason for the hype.

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Also, I just finished reading the late Susan Sontag’s journals “Reborn” and since Leibovitz and Sontag were partners I was interested to hear her talk about her.  When she did the audience went completely silent, more so as we watched this very powerful seemingly guarded woman grow a bit emotional as she referred to ‘loosing Susan.’

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“when we met she knew I could be better, I could’ve been a jerk or the work could’ve gotten better.  I never really could be the person she wanted me to be.  She had a high set of values.  I never felt like I could totally please her”

Apparently the “Women” book was Sontags idea, interesting fact.  I found the photos in the show of Sontag to be really beautiful.  I think it’s always telling to see the portraits the portrait photographer takes of their loved ones.  Leibovitz said that was the motivation for the show, after Sontag died she was looking through photographs of her believing in all their years together she’d failed to get any really great ones.

She went on to talk about the photograph of her Mother, from the Women book and how it has become so much more to her over the years.  Just before taking it her Mother had asked her not to make her look old and after when she showed her parents neither one liked it.

“We always had to smile for photos when I was younger, in the best and worst of times.  And my Mother always smiled in photos.  But, I began to distrust the smile, in my protraits you rarely see people smiling….later at the show someone came up to me and said ‘she looks as if she loves you in that picture'”

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It was nice to hear some of the anecdotes behind the photos I’ve referenced since I was 16.  And yes I have to admit I was a bit star struck; it’s hard not to be when you walk through the rooms of people she’s photographed.  I mean just to have met all those people is a pretty amazing feat.  I know I know, you can roll your eyes if you must.

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“as a photographer, my achilles heal: I like people to look good.”

Annie Leibovitz

Cindy Sherman at Sprüth Magers then Dancing

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Sprüth Magers Berlin is delighted to present Cindy Sherman’s first exhibition of new work in Europe since 2004. The fourteen colour photographs assembled develop Sherman’s longstanding investigation into notions of gender, beauty and self-fashioning, and reveal a particular concern to probe experiences and representations of aging. Working as her own model for more than 30 years, Sherman has developed an extraordinary relationship with her camera, and her audience, capturing herself in a range of guises and personas which are by turn alarming and amusing, distasteful and poignant. A remarkable performer, subtle distortions of her face and body are captured on camera, leaving the artist unrecognizable as she deftly alters her features, and brazenly manipulates her surroundings.

Each of the women which feature in Sherman’s new exhibition share an acute consciousness of glamour and social hierarchy, which is both disquietingly flagrant and sardonically relevant to contemporary obsessions with image and status. In one photograph (Untitled #465, 2008), the fiercely proud eyes of a woman installed in her warped and blurred country estate stare out of a face regrettably cracked and peeling with age, ill concealed by make-up, hair-dye or expensive pearls. In another work from the series (Untitled #467, 2008), a woman with a tight sequined skirt, fake gold jewellery and extravagant fake white nails also glares out, perhaps daring the viewer to call her trash, or ruefully acknowledging that this is what she is. It is ultimately impossible, however, to fix any stable narrative in Sherman’s work; different levels of pretence and authenticity operate and interact in her images to complicate any straightforward reading of her characters, or the stories they might tell the viewer.

Find the full press release here.

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Winnie, Anna, and Ford

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I really loved the show, the space was wonderful (above photo is the ceiling) and it felt good to meet other artists and discuss the photos.

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After the gallery opening Harriet (above) had the grand idea of heading to Clärchens Ballhaus, a wonderful dance hall that has been hosting dances since 1913.  Even through war this place was said to have kept going.  On this particular evening it was Swing night, we mostly just watched, but towards the end we couldn’t resist and ended up going out and giving it a go.  The whole thing made me so happy, these elderly couples who were obviously regulars along side teenagers who wanted to learn from the masters.  Anyone who ever believed Germans to be cold and unfriendly has obviously never been here, the happy warmth seemed to radiate.

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My favorite had to be this older man who looked at least 80 that had a smile on his face the whole night.  All the girls were dancing with him and even a few men which was truly heartwarming to see.  Not only these beautiful people dancing around and losing their self consciousness in it but also these big German men dancing together, everyone smiling.  I didn’t get to see the upstairs but here are some photos from the web.  If you come to Berlin I highly recommend this being one of your stops!

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Sickinger Hof

When I arrived late Saturday night to the Haupbanhauf Station in Berlin it was almost as I had remembered it but that was why it wasn’t the same as the first time I came, I already met this place, albeit briefly.

I took a cab to my hotel since I hadn’t been feeling so great.  It could have been the Ritz and I wouldn’t have noticed all I cared, I was in such need of rest that I sleepwalked through the first impressions.  When I woke in the morning and went down for breakfast I pushed past it then too.  But after my jam and bread, coffee and orange juice, and out of place hard boiled egg I finally met the Sickinger Hof Hotel where I would be staying until I found an apartment.

A friend once told me he and his family had to live in a hotel for a while when he was a kid; he talked about it with this sort of unfinished face about it like even after all these years he still didn’t know how that had made him feel.  Seeing that face had made me instantly regret envying him.

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At the Sickinger Hof my room had three bed like pads, a window, a sink with a mirror, a tv above the sink, and a rather sad empty closet with nothing in it.   There was a bathroom down the hall as well as a public shower that was either scalding or freezing.  I didn’t see many people while I was there; a british couple that were always rolling their eyes and yelling at each other, a group of Germans, and an older Italian couple that I instantly felt obligated to help.  At breakfast a few other people were sitting solo but it’s harder to spy on people that are also spying on you.

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Most of my days were spent out, it felt like I visited all the train stations in Berlin.  Without knowing the city I ended up making appointments throughout the day in all different places and usually took the less than direct routes to get there.  Other than that it was coffee shops with wireless, keeping to myself, and calmly sipping while panicking about my future.*

I wonder when you stop being a tourist in a place?  With trying to find an apartment and a job being my main priorities I stopped seeing the city as the places I had to see before I left.  Now that I had no immediate plans of leaving I wondered in areas picturing myself walking home everyday.  Adopting landmarks instead of taking I was there photos.  It doesn’t surprise me that every person I know that was born and raised in new york has never been to the empire state building.

* it sounds bad but believe me if I have the time to write a blog post reflecting about it, I am certainly well enough.  I’m sorry if my previous posted caused concern (Mom).

This won’t be the Last Time

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After an amazing three-day trip I had to leave Berlin.  Usually I hate such short trips, feels like you’re not being fair to the city or your experience by only seeing a fraction of the place.   However I felt like I covered a lot of ground and knew I would be back.

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Before getting on the train I walked around Museum Island and attempted to take some photos of myself in Jessica Victory style (she always has these fantastic mid air jump shots that make me happy).  Now imagine me 4feet in front of my camera, which is propped up on my bag on self-timer, at around 10 am, jumping and smiling repeatedly.  Needless to say I attracted a small crowd of onlookers across the street that were all smiling and giggling.  I smiled back; awkwardness is universal.

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“ALL ART HAS BEEN CONTEMPORARY”

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I had a nice fancy Cappuccino in a museum café and then some Curry Wurst (a Berlin dish of sausage with ketchup and curry) at the station and back on the train to Wurzburg.
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On the train I felt so strange, this ominous hum about me that seems to come and go frequently these days.  I suppose it’s a product of travel, the excitement and anticipation of the next place, but it seems stronger now.  It makes me want to photograph everything.

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It was really hard to photograph in a moving train but the scenery was gorgeous; I particularly loved these trees with what looked like tumbleweeds hanging amongst the branches.  It was lovely.

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and everything changed

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The next day I woke up and had a quick breakfast before jumping on the U Bahn to go to the East Side Gallery.  The introduction page of my guide book to Berlin says this is not a beautiful city this is a city that has been through so much that it seeps from each space.

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The East Side Gallery is a remaining part of the wall that’s been left for artists to use as a canvas.  I took about 298749874 photos:

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Then I went to Berlin

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Although a bit sleepy from the train, I was really excited and so blown away by the Berlin Hbf station that I had to document the occasion.

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With map and camera in hand I headed to my hostel, the Back Packer in the Mitte (or center) area of town.

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After getting my bed (which was 20 Euro for a bed in a room of 4 beds), my locker, and a bit organized I was out on the town for a look around.

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For dinner I went to a great little Russian place called Gorki Park that I found in my guidebook, boasting great eats for cheap.  I got onion, mushroom, and spinach perogies with a yogurt scauce and a Russian beer which was pretty tasty.

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Then I was off for a drink at the Oscar Wilde Pub a self proclaimed hub of ex-pats and English speakers, which on a Sunday night was pretty empty, however I was able to chat a bit with the bartender and he said on Saturdays there’s a lot of Americans that now live in Berlin.

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After my first half of a day in Berlin I was feeling pretty confident and didn’t consult my map before heading back to the hostel so I ended up taking a long slightly round about way back.  It was actually quite a lovely stroll and I found these lit up trees.

Barbara’s Birthday

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After a lazy morning we hopped on the train and rode out to the Museum im Kulturspeicher where we saw a great exhibit about Gabriele Munter, Wassily Kandinsky, and the “Der Blaue Reiter” (The Blue Rider) Group.

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Print by Munter and Kandinsky in Germany with their cat.

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Afterwards Barbara and I walked back into town and went to a beautiful cafe.  It felt like a really classic place, a bit of an Austrian vibe, and beautifully decandent coffees and desserts.

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I had apple strudel (which came with a light vanilla cream to pour on top) and Barbara had a refreshingly not too sweet slice of cheese cake.

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Later that night we went to an amazing live show of ‘La Banda Brassa’ which is a band from Barbara’s region.  She was explaining to me that even though they are singing in German it’s a different dialect than in Wurzburg so most people don’t know the lyrics, not just me.

Well it was truly one of the best shows I’ve seen, the first thing these guys did was play their version of german techno (mind you this is with tuba, trumpet, drums) which was hillarious.  Then after playing their set to a packed and dancing crowd; myself, Barbara, and friends included, they were given two or three standing ovations and started to play some classics I could sing along to.  “Around the World” by Daft Punk, really amazing in brass! And my personal favorite “Waterfalls” by TLC.  Can’t top that! Hopefully I’ll have pictures soon, I opted out of bringing my camera and instead brought a disposable.  And also wunderbar, the band did a birthday shoutout for Barbara!

Frankonian Wine, Pumpkin Soup, and Barbara turns 25

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Frankonian Wine at the supermarket.  Barbara and I went and bought some groceries and she made me a delightfully low key supper.  As I’ve mentioned, I love going to markets in other countries as I think you can learn a lot about a culture by seeing where and how they get their food.  At this place which claims to be the market for every generation (Barbara said they recently redid the place to include large signage for the elderly community nearby).  I enjoyed the huge selection of seeds and wasn’t sure what to think about all the weight watchers products which are apparently really popular.

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The next day we had lunch and a different Mensa, apparently there are 6 in Wurzburg for all the colleges and people of lower incomes to share.  A decent meal for 3 euro in a really clean place that promotes a sense of community was pretty wonderful (hey USA, get on it).

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Then we walked into town and admired the many Wurzburg churches along the way.  Above in red is the Market Square Church and that gorgeous yellow building in the center of the photo below is the Library, another favorite thing to see in every city I visit.  Oddly enough the last four or so I’ve seen have been similar shades of yellow.

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Then in celebration of Barbara turning 25 the next day we went out for a nice meal in Wurzburg.  More Frankonian wine, the best pumpkin soup I have ever had, and German wurst with potato balls (apparently a specialty in the area), and a wonderful salad.  Plus for dessert we shared a plum crepe. Wunderbar!

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