Saturday 25th January 2020, 10.30am (day 3,075)
One of those shots which is a nice arrangement but the OCD in all of us goes, couldn’t you have straightened up the goddamn chairs. Really.
A day out in Liverpool with Joe. The day as a whole was a good one, but let’s not talk about the football match later on. More agreeable was the Slavery Museum on Albert Dock, which while rather (understandably) depressing in places was certainly interesting — if not very big. These are Igbo carvings, I believe. The message in the back is pertinent. But yes, the black line, separating the panes of glass in the display cabinet, does bother me.
This pic was taken on my phone, as something happened today which has always been a possibility — I didn’t charge the camera battery properly and after the first picture of the day, when we were already on our journey, it died. Phone cameras these days do just as good a job of course, so act well as a backup. But one of these days a technical fail may well lead to a day with no photo: the most likely one I can think of being that my SD card breaks when I try to upload pictures the morning after, and thus too late to grab any emergency replacement. I hope that never happens of course, but I do wonder what my reaction would be. After (so far) 3,061 consecutive days of photography it would be something of a blow, to be sure.
As it says on the relevant website: “The exhibition gives visitors the chance to delve into the collections of six different cultural institutions: from thousand-year-old treasures to the latest in Icelandic art. Its focus is on the visual expression of the ideas we have about the world, our environment and ourselves. The materials and techniques may change over the years, but the viewpoints remain the same.”
So other people’s art again; here, 42 (yes!) photographs of Icelandic glaciers, with Joe to give some perspective. He said he liked the place too….
Time for a summer holiday. Time for the blog’s 36th country: Iceland. Time for tiny but endearing museums devoted to the Icelandic punk rock scene from the 1970s on, built in old subterranean public toilets. The fabled landscape of Iceland? I’ll capture this if it stops raining. It’s forecast to: eventually.
This blog is both commentary, and record. So there is one part of me that regrets there is such a thing as ‘war tourism’ exists — that the dreadful conflict between the two parts of Vietnam, with the interventions of the USA, that lasted for some ten years from 1964 or so should now be something that people have come to feel is merely the background for a family photo. On the other hand — I went to the War Remnants museum in Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh CIty) today; I too was a war tourist. So should I feel guilty? The place was even-handed enough, there were some fascinating things to look at (most of all, the gallery of war correspondent photographs from both Vietnamese and European/American photographers), it passed most of the day. I learned, and that’s surely what matters. But could I stand and smile for the camera in front of a death machine? That’s something else.
The building which houses the Jewish Museum in Berlin is one of the most brilliant pieces of architecture I have ever experienced. Even if it were empty of exhibits — and at the moment, due to a renovation, it nearly is — it would make you think. There are these great vertical voids throughout the building, including the ‘Holocaust Tower’, a vast blank space illuminated only by a sliver of light coming in through the top. Another is covered with these metal sculpted faces, representing the innocent dead, that you must walk across in order to traverse the space. Then there is this garden, the ‘Garden of Exile’ — its plants placed high up on these stone pillars. Walking around it, other people appear and disappear randomly from view. This is architecture of genius, and well worth visiting. Though don’t expect to come out of it feeling any happier about the world — except, perhaps, that it has been built in Berlin. That fact alone gives me some hope.
I wonder how many reputed bits of the Berlin Wall there are remaining in the world. I used to have at least one bit of rubble that was definitely part of it, because I removed it myself, on my one visit to Berlin in September 1990 when there was still quite a bit of it standing and being pulled down by tourists. Every bit of it that I could see at that time had been heavily graffitied so either this big, relatively clean chunk standing in the Imperial War Museum in London is from something else, or (more likely) this stood on the inside, facing the no-man’s land that stood between East and West from 1961-1989.
Whatever. Decent museum, the IWM, takes an even-handed view of its subject matter. And free, for now.
And very good some of the robots were too — the small automata lined up on the table before him. Taken at ‘MakeFest’, a way of keeping the children occupied during summer at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. A shame the kids are a bit overexposed but I like Robot Man’s benevolent glow.
The weekend in London continues. Visited the Victoria and Albert museum partly to see an exhibition and partly because I had never previously been there in my 46 years. The museum was opened in 1857 and has the largest collection of art and design objects in the world, the scale of which — 6.5 million objects — becomes apparent when you wander around the fairly large building and realise that even then only a tiny proportion of the collection is on display. This artist was one of a group sketching a sculpture which had made it out to public view.