Thursday, March 23, 2017

Little escap(ad)e: Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and New York University Abu Dhabi

During my short trip to Abu Dhabi my friend and I went to see two art exhibits that were thematically related, although not planned in union, according to the curator of one of the shows. They are both on the topic of conceptual and modern art in the United Arab Emirates, looking at the movement from slightly different perspectives. According to the curator at the art museum of New York University in Abu Dhabi, she would have preferred if we had seen the exhibits in reverse order to how we did, but since neither of us really knew much about conceptual art in the U.A.E. before, it didn't really matter much, we think. The second exhibit is in the the to-be-opened Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi, and we went through that with a guided tour, which was very helpful and improved our understanding considerably.

The exhibition in the Guggenheim show room focusses on aspects of performance art in the U.A.E., and the one in the NYUAD concentrates on a group of artists strongly influenced through each other, and mostly by Hassan Sharif.
I really liked many of the works on display  by Hassan Sharif, even if one might be tempted to look for influences from outside:

Hassan Sharif, Cardboard and Coir, 1999

Hassan Sharif, Plank from Directions, 2000

Photos of the performance of Directions

His influence on the art scene in U.A.E. must have been tremendous, and nowadays visitors, who have seen other, and perhaps numerous pieces of conceptual art, probably cannot understand at all the kind of effect these works must have had on their first viewers, in a part of the world that had not been overly influenced by western movements at the time.
Actually, that is one thing that I have repeatedly thought about, also in connection with music: it is hard to understand the readicality of some things on their first appearance, and the uproar they caused 'back then' when one has been living with these things all one's life. As our guided group was told in the introduction in the Guggenheim, "we have seen things like this many times, but it was radically new back then."

A favorite of mine in both exhibitions was this work by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Lines:

Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Lines, 1992

Another of his works, Teela,

inspired my friend and me to start our very own piece of performance art on her balcony.

Whenever more sand accumulates on the balcony, my friend is going to sweep it all onto one pile, which we have started in the corner of the balcony, and covered with a piece of plastic to keep it from blowing away. We don't really know how long she is going to live in Abu Dhabi, but we hope that by the time she leaves the pile will have reached recognizable height, and will be bought by the museum for a good sum...
If you should get to Abu Dhabi soon, make sure to go and see those two exhibits. And if you would like to see performance art in the making, let me know, I will get you in touch with my friend ...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Reflections from Abu Dhabi

A friend of mine is living in Abu Dhabi right now, and I could get a cheap flight. So yesterday I flew to Abu Dhabi, and these are a few first reflections from our evening walk.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Teaching at Petersberg

I spent a weekend teaching at Petersberg, west of Dachau, my favorite teaching site, where I get to teach a weekend every year.

On the top of the hill: a Roman Church

The weekend starts out for me with an hour-long-massage at the local massage place, which is the perfect introduction to the entire setup.
This time the workshop had been completely booked after less than 24 hours, which made it the second favorite workshop of the institution. The house is very favorable towards us, and the group that attends has grown to be a group of friends. I suppose it wouldn't matter what topic the workshop - they would sign up nevertheless. Because they know, they can bring their own projects and just spend the days sewing.

We have the largest room in the house, we can spend our time as we like - except for the fact that meals are being served at 8 a.m., 12 noon and 6 p.m., with coffee served in the afternoon.  As a special treat, I have arranged with the massage place that they offer appointments for the participants on Saturday morning. We have had this for three years now, and that way the Saturday has acquired a special atmosphere. For a few hours the participants quietly take their leave, come back a while later with a serene smile on their face and a completely relaxed atmosphere around them.
Quite stressful!
Next year's date has been set, and we are going to be there on the first weekend in February.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Little escap(ad)e: Niki de Saint Phalle in Dortmund

Two weeks ago I spent a weekend in Dortmund with the annual meeting of board and regional representatives of the German Patchwork Guild. As the new International Representative for the Guild, and a member of the editorial staff of the magazine, I had to attend, of course, and it was an interesting weekend. Some of the members of the board I already knew, but it was good to get to know the others as well. By mid-Sunday the meeting was over, and I had booked my flight together with Barbara Lange, current President of the Guild, for the evening as the mid-day flight would have been a bit difficult to catch. So after cleaning up most of the left-overs of the meeting we found ourselves with a few hours on hand and were happy to hear that Ulla had pre-planned and checked the museum exhibitions, and joined her to go and see the current exhibition of works by Niki de Saint Phalle in the Museum Ostwall.

Outside banner announcing the exhibition

The interior of the building is quite impressive, you have to go up five long escalators before you get to the entrance of the museum, with several other interesting sites located on the lower floors.

There were explicit signs on the wall saying that photography was not allowed, so I was a good girl and kept my camera hidden, just taking a few notes. Assuming that I would be able to find pictures on the web that would make illustration possible, without incriminating myself through illegal photography.

I have known quite a bit about her for a while, and must say that I have never been particularly impressed with the early works in their artistic quality. Shooting pictures certainly make for a scandalous reputation, and she was successful at that. Nor does she come across as a particularly likeable person in the biography presented, more like a spoiled brat and very self-centered person. But I know, of course, that those aren't any standards by which you measure or judge artists... and she was a fighter, she had a lot of influence on the position of women in art, so her achievements must not be disapproved of because she was a strong-headed and uncompromising person.

But I did like the 'autoportrait' on display in the entrance area. And I lover her Nana-figures and drawings.

Photo taken from here

And I am sure her relationship with Tinguely was an interesting one that never got to be boring...

The exhibition is on display until April 23, and well worth a visit!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Weekend getaway

My husband has sent me on a weeken getaway because he thought that once again I was getting to be too deeply emotionally involved with refugee issues, so I am spending a weekend on Lake Schliersee, south of Munich.
The lake was frozen and the ice, although it is not safe to walk on anymore, is still pretty much a closed cover.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Reunion 2017

I can't believe how fast time is flyeing these days. No time to sit down, think about quilts and art. I have to renew memberships, update credit card information, and somehow there is too much going on to do even that. I've been sleeping badly lately, which doesn't help in anything...
But last weekend was a wonderful weekend. Former Co-exchange students from my year as an exchange student in the US came, and we had a wonderful reunion.
Not only did we look at many pictures from way back then - Thomas has been really good about digitalizing them -

Kenneth, Caroline, Henrick, Peter, Thomas, Carmen, Michéle, Y
lva and me, way in the middle in the back Mr. Brauch, the coordinator


but we also went for an outing to Regensburg and had a guided city tour just for our little group.

The guide took this picture... not quite sure what he wanted to say with this,
but yes, Marianne went shopping...

During the city tour - very interesting, but a bit cold in the end.

Lots of stories, lots of fun and laughter and all of us were amazed - although some of us had been meeting relatively regularly, three people had not been to any of the earlier meetings, and a gap of 35 years is not always easy to bridge. But it worked, we co-operated in situ on finding the other four whom we had not been able to locate in preparation for this meeting - and we are planning the next one in May 2019. Smaller, individual meetings may even be in order before that, too.
On the trip, we passed a shop that has lots of tin figures, and as I have been asked to please participate in the German Guild's Bavarian Section's challenge on the theme 'at home' (written in a very Bavarian manner, and almost not-pronouncible), I took the opportunity to brush up my stack of ideas by taking two photos:

Not my style, to be thinking about making a quilt with this kind of inspiration. But one grows with one's challenges...