Tuesday, 5 July 2011

It could have been the neighbourhood;

If you've been to Europe, you know the kind of neighbourhood I mean: Where almost everyone is an immigrant, usually from the Middle East or Africa. Iäm not saying it doesnät have itäs own particular charms, but I found the Brussels version more depressing.
Things were better in Norrebro, I thought, reminiscing about Denmarkäs immigrant ghetto and itäs vibrancy. Here, everyone looked glum, if not despondent.
The weather wasnät doing much for me either: perpetually on the brink of rain, thankfully it never came.
Finally, one of the aspects of the attractions I was mainly there for has decided to make itself unavailable. "How can they dismantle my right to view Miro right on the date I arrive?"
I decided I had had enough and hopped onto the first northbound Eurolines bus to Copenhagen.

As expected, my experience improved with the geographical change. I had my mental workings rearranged, blown, reassembled and rearranged again by Louisiana Modern Art Museum's extraordinary exhibition on architecture, which explored everything from fusion to postmodernism to communal living spaces, to Roma built culture... there was so much to sink in that I didnät have time to do it all. But 7 hours was enough to seriously blow my mind, and the next time I took the train northwards again (the Museum is outside the city) it was to go even further north, to Helsingor.


I should probably mention that I did see the worthwhile Magritte Museum while I was in Brussels. A milder version of mindblowing (letäs call it mindboggling), there was something very formal and classic about this artistäs surrealism. The subject was always in teh centre of the frame, which confirmed my impression that surrealism is very much a worshipping of realism, through the lens of maximum distortion. Some of the same conventions remain.

Magritte had a wide range of amusing, provokative and endearing ideas, which I enjoyed perusing. Perhaps my favourite works of his were from his cubist period - he could easily have been a master of the genre if heäd stayed with it.

It was all rather good preparation for the Lousiana Museum, especially the buildings which remained bathed in darkness and the faint illumination of a streetlamp although the daylight roared above their roofs.


Iäm now in Stockholm, and tomorrow Iäll be in Madrid.

I managed to explore a bit more of Sodermalm, excite the local immigrants (I like your style! breathed an Eastern European-looking soul at me in Slussen), breathe some beautiful air, eat some tasty dishes, read some Zadie Smith, and comtemplate how long the clock that is counting down to a major global financial collapse will keep ticking (as a way of keeping up with the news, courtesy of BBC World and Hotell Västberga).

Iäm a little lonely in Stockholm: The last thing somebody said to me, not brought about due to an exchange of goods and/or services, was 'The machine tried to fool me. But I fooled it.' - this was a guy who had delivered a dull but pointed kick at teh vending machine in the metro. I giggled.

I continue to be impressed with Sweden's commitment to gender and sexuality -progressive attitudes. The magazine Situation advertises its latest edition with a series of images: one of them is a female body-builder wearing a skimpy green bikini, and another is a young boy (perhaps an early teen) wearing make-up and dressed in female clothing. The image is endearing: he's not smiling, but looks happy with himself, admiring his dark pink eyeshadow and lipstick. Itäs a beautiful image.

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