Above/featured: Alicja Kwade exhibition, at the Berlinische Galerie. HL:X70.
In October 2021, I watched DW Culture’s Arts.21 feature on Polish-German artist Alicja Kwade. I knew I had to see her work and exhibition in person, but would it be even possible? My answer arrived six weeks later with a quick jump home to Berlin.
All of Kwade’s sculptural pieces in her exhibition, “In Abwesenheit” (In Absence)”, are “self-portraits.” But none of them show her face; the pieces aren’t necessarily simple, nor are they “selfies” characterized by the present vernacular. She is not physically present, and yet, every piece provides the visitor a glimpse into her mindset including questions she raises about the volatility of the human condition and about where we fit within a very large universe.
As former research scientist, I’m recognizing and I’m loving the influences on her art. She is clearly very interested in mathematics, physics, astrophysics, biology, genetics; but she’d be the first to admit she’d need multiple lives to completely fulfill all of her interests. The deconstruction of “self” into precise scientific elements is another way of expressing those (dreaded) “selfies” or self-portraits. I admire the clever play: it’s the breakdown into those elements that tell us what she is, and it’s the measured synthesis of those elements into the broad strokes of her sculptures that tell us who she is.
We’re all playing this game. Everyday things seem so important. But then you zoom out and realize that you’re standing with another billion [people] on a spinning sphere. With that perspective, you’re reminded to just be glad you’re here at all.
– 16 April 2019, Artnet News about her rooftop commission at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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Above/featured: Left: “Search”, by J. Seward Johnson Jr. (1975). Right: “Solo”, by Natalie McHaffie (1986). Devonian Harbour Park, 14 Jul 2021 (X70).
Based on what we see in person and online, the quickest version of street art may be defined by the variety of art appearing on side walls of buildings, big and small. Most will think about paint, graffiti, and murals, all of them in the here and now. But we shouldn’t forget any art that’s out on the streets and publicly accessible.
Below are a handful of examples of public art in the city of Vancouver; the following is a visual expression of my fondness for sculpture whose origins sweep back to the 1st-half of the 20th-century.
- “A Tale of Two Children” by Ken Lum (2005)
- “Golden Tree” by Douglas Coupland (2016); “Salish Gifts” by Susan Point (2015)
- Lions by Charles Marega (1939)
- “Reconciliation Pole” by 7idansuu / Edenshaw, James Hart (2017)
- “Salmon” by Susan Point (1995)
- “Saltwater City”, by Paul Wong (2020)
- “Welcome Figure”, by Darren Yelton (2006)
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In Salzburg, I’m motivated by a search for Mozart and for signs of modernity. I’ve already examined part of the city through its art: what more can Salzburg offer?
Excellent views of the city and surroundings.
The Mönchberg hill on which the Hohensalzburg fortress sits provides many viewpoints over the city. You can walk along the entire length of Mönchberg for varying perspectives, or you can approach a number of the viewpoints separately.
I ascended and traversed the hill on foot from southeast to northeast, beginning from Kapitelplatz to the viewpoints just north of the Museum der Moderne. I returned to the Old Town below with the MönchsbergAufzug elevator which is a part of Salzburg’s public transport.
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