Slumbering Beauties

I have occasionally been asked about, or sometimes even been criticized for, my intermittent reporting on matters of the Catholic church. There were suggestions that my blog entries on monasteries in Mallorca, on churches, chapels and the Cathedral, or on festivities related to saints and saints’ days amount to promoting the Catholic religion or something to that extent. I keep explaining that an exhaustive blog on the subject of Mallorca would be flawed if it did not include references to matters of church traditions in a country as deeply entrenched in the Catholic religion as Spain was and still is. No, I am not a Catholic, I never was and I never will be. If I did a blog on Japan, I would certainly have to include topics of Shintoism or Buddhism quite frequently, don’t you think?

Every time, I point out that I continuously aim to give equal attention to other religions such as Islam, Sufism, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Mormonism or Jehovanism. After all, there has been a time in Mallorca when Catholicism, Islam and Judaism coexisted in perfect harmony for a few hundred years, or so it is sometimes claimed.

Okay, I have never reported on Scientology and I am not sure that I will ever consider it relevant.

Allow me to talk about the Virgin Mary once more, on occasion of the recent Festivitat de l’Assumpció de La Mare de Déu (Ascent of Virgin Mary). The celebration is also called Dormició de Maria (Dormition of Virgin Mary).

I have visited a number of church exhibitions of the Slumbering Beauties over the last number of years and this year, was all intent on filling in the gaps that I might have missed in the past. Easier said than done. When I was in Palma last Friday, I approached six churches plus the Cathedral but, I found myself locked out in all of them but two. Saturday and Sunday, the same happened in the pueblos. Of seven churches, only three were open for visits at the time of my arrival. For your perusal, I am offering you reclining Mare de Déu Dormida examples taken in – from top to bottom – La Seu (Cathedral) and Sant Miquel in Palma, and Campos, Felanitx, Santanyí and Porreres in the Part Forana (the hinterland). I was told that the most beautiful Virgin Mary statue was laid out in the parish church of s’Arracó (Església de Sant Crist), but I did not get there before time and the display there is now no longer on view, until next year.

This year, some installations will be on display until August 22nd. The parish church in Santanyí will show its sleeping beauty (above) until August 21st, the parish church in Muro, until August 23rd, and the church in Alaró, until August 25th. In Palma, the exhibition at the Església de Sant Francesc comes to a close on August 22nd, as will the one at La Seu de Mallorca. An exhibition Mostra de la Mare de Déu d’Agost will be open at the Monestir de la Puríssima Concepció until August 23rd. A Funeral Procession of the Ascending Virgin will be held on August 22nd at 19h00 at the Església del Monestir de la Concepció.

The photos were taken, from top to bottom, in Palma de Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 17th, 2012. The time was 15:28:09 and 13:34:54, Campos, August 18th, 2012, at 11:05:14, Felanitx, August 15th, 2012, at 11:56:02, Santanyí, August 18th, 2012, at 12:09:45, and Porreres, August 19th, 2012, at 20:28:38.

The Sounds of Silence

Every now and then, you will come to understand that there is a handful of people, at most, that have shaped your life. Most often, such people are your parents, or certainly one of the two. Sometimes it is a benefactor, or a friend, or perhaps a lover. Sometimes it is someone who you have never even met in person, but whose ideas have impressed you and shaped you and whose ideas you might have adopted, such as an artist, a writer, a philosopher, a thinker, whatever.

I like to think that my life would have turned out differently without John Cage. He was an American avantgarde composer and artist whose unorthodox ideas and inventive compositions profoundly influenced mid-20th-century music, and art, and myself.

John Milton Cage Jr. was born on September 5th, 1912, in Los Angeles, California. Next September will be the centenary of his birth. He died August 12th, 1992, twenty years ago today.

What’s interesting for us here in Mallorca is that John Cage travelled to Europe in 1930-31, spending some months in Paris and visiting various places in France, Germany and Spain, as well as Capri and, most importantly, Mallorca.

“I left Paris and began both painting and writing music, first in Mallorca. The music I wrote was composed in some mathematical way I no longer recall. It didn’t seem like music to me so that when I left Mallorca I left it behind to lighten the weight of my baggage. In Sevilla on a street corner I noticed the multiplicity of simultaneous visual and audible events all going together in one’s experience and producing enjoyment. It was the beginning for me of theater and circus” (quoted from johncage.org).

For those of you who might wish to know more about the man and his ideas, I would recommend some of his writing, such as Silence, or perhaps his Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse). A 8-CD Box Set is available, recorded with Mr. Cage’s own voice.

If you happen to like some of John Cage’s sound compositions, the Diary will only confirm a suspicion that you probably have entertained already: It takes a great mind to create some great work, be that music, art, writing or indeed, anything.

Cage once stated “until I die there will be sounds. And they will continue following my death. One need not fear about the future of music”.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of marcellopedrolo.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

Dead as a Dodo

The Museu de Mallorca is a national museum and as such comes under the responsibility of the Directorio de Museos y Colecciones de España, a department of the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, a ministry of the Gobierno de España, the Spanish Government.

The museum in Palma is in a 16th century mansion popularly known as Casa de la Gran Cristiana, not far from the bishop’s palace, somewhere behind the Cathedral. Don’t go there because you will find that the place is closed for the public and access has been unavailable for five years now. You could say that the place is dead as a dodo, totally unrelated to the current economic crisis. You would think that instead one could at least consult the website of the museum and would find information there. But no, that one is dead as well. None of the site’s links function, with only one exception. The last update was made in 2006, it seems.

You would normally find some interesting archaeological finds at the Museu de Mallorca, pertaining to the island’s Talayotic period, the Roman era as well as the Islamic phase and the Mediaeval history. The museum normally also houses some fine art from the 15th to the 20th century, plus a collection of books and documents.

If you have followed events on this MDPB you might be aware that some museum pieces are now on temporary display at the Centre de Cultura SA NOSTRA, in Calle Concepción. That one is well worth a visit but, if you have ever been to the Museu de Mallorca, don’t expect to find more than a mere fragment of its exhibits at the SA NOSTRA exhibition.

The Museu de Mallorca has a secondary building in Muro: an ethnological section, where some of the every-day-objects on display relate to Mallorca before the age of tourism. There is a further museum branch in Alcúdia: a Roman archaeology section, known as the Museu Monogràfic de Pollença, showing remnants found at the Roman city of Pollentia. I would recommend visits to those museum offshoots as well, should you be in the area and should you be so inclined.

The photos were chosen from my archive. They were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2004. The time was 13:34:43 and 13:28:42, respectively.

The Cinema and the Rise in Value Added Tax

Mallorca’s cinefile community is delighted about the erstwhile Cinema Renoir reopening last weekend as a citizens’ cooperative. The new venture took over the Renoir’s premises as well as all fixtures and fittings and will now operate under the name of Cineciutat.

Enhorabuena.

However, last week’s announcement by the Rajoy government in Madrid to raise IVA (or VAT) from 18 to 21 % leaves Spain’s cinemas a bit in the doldrums, though, and Spanish cinema-goers are shocked and outraged. Why?

Ever since the Value Added Tax was introduced in Spain in 1986 with the entry into the European Community, art, theatres, cinema and other cultural affairs were charged IVA at a reduced rate. I can’t remember how much it was at that time, but by 2009 the rate had gone up to 7 %. Then, the tax percentage was raised to 8 % on July 1st, 2010. Now, with effect of September 1st, 2012, IVA at reduced rate will be charged at 10 %. So far, so good. But no. In the case of the cinema ticket, the status of a reduced rate will be cancelled and IVA will be charged at the new, full rate of 21 %. Just to put things into perspective, the same cinema ticket is being levied with a VAT rate of 2.5 % in France for the first 140 screenings and 7 % after that, in Germany 7 % is being applied and in the Netherlands, a mere 6 %. As it stands, cinema attendance in Spain has already suffered a fall of 39 % over the last nine years with the number of tickets sold decreasing from 137,000,000 to about 98,000,000. Industry sources expect that the new taxation will possibly cause the closure of 50 % of all of Spain’s cinemas. In Palma, three cinema complexes closed in the last two years, counting the Renoir as one of them.

Let’s hope the new Cineciutat will not be one of the cinemas adversely effected by the increase in IVA.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 14th, 2012. The time was 16:41:41. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of CineCiutat and the photographer, Andreu Tur.

Moltes gràcies, and

muchas gracias.

Walking on Ice

An art exhibition was opened last week at Sa Llotja in Palma. I did not go to the opening. I never go to openings; I make it my habit to go the next day, or a few days later, to have my encounter with the artwork and the artist’s ambitions in peace and on my own, unfettered by the art circuit crowd who sees openings as a social event where it is important to be seen at the right place with the right people and where the art on show usually comes second, if that.

The exhibition is by Mallorcan artist, Bernardí Roig, and is called Walking on Faces. It felt a bit like Walking on Ice to me, because, believe me, it is one thing to look at the portrait of a person, and quite a different sensation to walk straight over it. As it were, we were invited to walk over close to 2,000 faces, because that is the number of participants in that project, all people from and residents in or visitors to Palma last April.

Apart from a certain hesitation of trampling upon other people’s vulnerability, I don’t really know what to think of Señor Roig’s artistic inclinations. It may be a bit of a flat idea in more ways than one. But, hey, let me also say one thing: I have been to some 30 art exhibitions at Sa Llotja over the last 25 years. And for sure, none of the previous artists paid as much homage to and showed as much respect for this Gothic location by the hand of a genius, Guillem Sagrera (1380-1456), as has done Bernardí Roig, and I would applaud him for that.

The Mediaeval trade exchange was closed for three years for some extensive restoration work. Since it has been reopened, the place was only open for a couple of days to be shown and presented in its new glory. Then an art installation was presented last year, Llaüts Light, by Fabricio Plessi. The installation was fabulous but one could see nothing of the building’s splendid interior as the setting was all dark and blue. After that show, the Llonja was closed again, until now. I would recommend a visit to the Walking on Faces exhibition for two reasons: go, if you are interested in one of the finest buildings in Palma, in fact, in all of Mallorca. And go, if you should have presented yourself as one of the 1,878 faces participating. It sure is a nice feeling to be part of a larger project in such a prime location. You may have to spend quite some time before you find your portrait, but if you do, your face will light up, I am sure of that. If none of the above applies, go anyway. Walking on thousands of largely anonymous identities is perhaps part of the creative project of this exhibition. If nobody goes and treads on the faces, no wear and tear will occur and perhaps that deterioration is needed before one can see more than the flatness that is so obvious at this moment in time.

The photos were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 10th, 2012. The time was 19:46:02 and 19:50:49, respectively.

Palma Photo 2012

Palma Photo 2012 was inaugurated one week ago, June 21st. Twenty galleries and museums dedicate some or all of their exhibition spaces to photography. Some of the photographic work is truly inspiring. At the CaixaForum, for instance, you can see some somber images of religious rites in Spain during the 1970s and ’80s (see photo above). At the Baluard Museu d’Art, portraits and still lifes are presented from the hand – and the eye – of Tony Catany, one of the most outstanding photographers alive in Mallorca (see photo below). Other galleries and exhibition spaces are: Aba Art, Altair, La Caja Blanca, Ferran Cano, Casal Solleric, Xavier Fiol, Maior, Horrach Moyá, Joan Oliver, Pelaires CCC, Fran Reus, SKL, Ses Voltes, Gabriel Vanrell, etc. Most exhibitions will be open until well into July. You could go and indulge yourself visually.

Artists participating in PalmaPhoto 2012 include: Toni Amengual, Nobuyoshi Araki, Adam Ball, Jordi Bernardó, Pepe Cañabate, Toni Catany, Diana Coca, Mitos Colom, Jorge Cosmen, Elger Esser, Nando Esteva, Alicia Framis, Alberto Garcia-Alix, Cristina García Rodero, Pabo Genovés, Susi Gómez, Fernando Guijar, Maria Hook, María Juarros, Nuri Llompart, Andrés López, Robert Mapplethorpe, Almagul Menlibayeva, López Moral, Joan Morey, Antonio Navarro, Cecilia Paredes, Teresa Pou, Lluís Real, Javier Saguillo, Charles Sandinson, Amparo Sard, Eulàlia Valldosera, Gori Vicens and Massimo Vitali.

The photo (top) was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 27th, 2012. The time was 17:56:40. The images (centre and bottom) were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of esbaluard.org and palmaphoto.es.

Moltes gràcies, and

muchas gracias.

Guerilla Knitting in Mallorca

We have heard of guerrilla gardeners, planting gardens in public spaces under the cover of night. And there are guerrilla knitters in New York, Texas, Mexico, London, Canada, Japan and Singapore, amongst other places, drawing our attention to neglected public spaces or simply, wanting to embellish otherwise dreary city landmarks. They are a clandestine group of woolly warriors who do knit graffiti or Knitivism, decorating lamp posts, trees, street signs and public sculptures with their knitted goods. In Spain, cities such as Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid have seen urban knitting over the last two years.

A few days ago, it was Palma’s turn. Under the cover of darkness, a good dozen female guerrilla knitters planted 200 flowers knitted or crocheted in wool under the olive tree in Plaça Cort. I wanted to see their Knitivism street art and rushed to Palma on Friday but, alas, the law-and-order brigade or whoever else had already removed the surely inoffensive adornments. I find this undertaking quite poetical or lyrical. As it happens, the 14th Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània is in full swing on the island but, the poetic visual suitability of the knitted garden in front of Palma’s Ajuntament seems to have escaped the mandarins in Palma. A shame, really.

The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es (top), craftism.wordpress.com (centre) and streetblog.cie-taxibrousse.com (bottom).

Muchas gracias, and

thank you very much.

World Art Day

The International Association of Art (UNESCO/IAA World Art Association) has declared tomorrow, April 15th, 2012 the first World Art Day. Apparently, the event will be celebrated worldwide. April 15th happens to be the date when Leonardo da Vinci was born (in 1452). It also happens to be the birthday of my mother, not related to da Vinci and not really related to art. Please, do not confuse this World Art Day with the International Museum Day which is celebrated on or around May 18th.

For the occasion, I delved into my photo archive and found an image of an installation created by the Italian artist, Fabrizio Plessi. The work was installed at the Aljub in Palma’s Es Baluard Museu d’Art Modern i Contemporani in 2004, called Il lavatori dell’anima, a modified version of an earlier installation called Bombay-Bombay. In 2011, Plessi did a rather splendid installation at Palma’s Llotja (Llaüt Light). The artist has lived and worked in Mallorca for a good twenty years, albeit on an intermittent basis. He owns a house on the island. He does not currently exhibit on the island but, he has one piece on permanent exhibition (Waterfall) at the Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober in Sa Bassa Blanca near Alcúdia that you could visit at the International Museum Day in May, for instance.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 8th, 2004. The time was 20:00:14.

Half German and Half Jewish With an Arab Soul and an African Heart

It is said that Andy Warhol once stated ‘My favourite painter is Mati Klarwein’.

With hindsight, Mati Klarwein and his paintbrush probably expressed the Zeitgeist of the Sixties and Seventies better than any other artist.

Mati Klarwein painted surrealistic LP covers for a number of musicians. His record covers of Santana’s Abraxas and Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew are perhaps more widely recognised than their musical content. These and other images became icons of Flower Power, hippiedom and the Sixties in general. Mati Klarwein was considered by some the King of Pop, at the time.

He also created surrealist portraits of Brigitte Bardot, John F. Kennedy, Richard Gere, Leonard Bernstein and Michael Douglas, to name but a few. Jimi Hendrix and the prophet of LSD, Timothy Leary, counted amongst his friends.

Mati Klarwein (1932-2002) was born in Hamburg, Germany, but in 1934 emigrated with his Jewish parents to Palestine before the state of Israel was created. In the Fifties, Klarwein lived in Saint Tropez (France) and in the USA, before eventually retreating to Mallorca in 1985, where he painted untiringly. Klarwein died in Deià (Mallorca), in 2002. His tomb can be found at the parish churchyard there.

‘I grew up in three different cultures, the Jewish, Islamic and the Christian. These circumstances and my family’s stern resistance to being part of any kind of orthodoxy has made me the outsider I am today and always have been’, Mati once said. ‘I am only half German and only half Jewish with an Arab soul and a African heart’.

In New York in 1964 Klarwein, by then Abdul Mati Klarwein, caused a commotion after having exhibited his blasphemous painting Crucifixion (see image below). The motif of the painting of a myriad of people caught in a garden of earthly delights, where no sexual, racial or gender barriers are in evidence, was something that threw parts of society into such a rage that Klarwein, at one point, was even attacked by a man violently chopping the air with a huge axe.

It seems that because of his association with the unorthodox, with mind-expansion, drugs and surrealism, Klarwein never became part of the established art scene. His paintings are scattered all over the world, but are rarely seen in art exhibitions. There was one large retrospective of his work in Palma a few years ago, followed by a remarkable book called ‘Mati Klarwein’ and sponsored by the Consell de Mallorca. This lavish book about the artist is still on sale for 50 €.

The photo was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of buffalozine.com and the photographer, C. Barchi. The image Crucifixion was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of matiklarweinart.com.

Thank you very much.

The Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober

I have reported about the Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober a few times before and the gardens of Sa Bassa Blanca, near the Aucanada Golf course, not far from Port d’Alcúdia.

A visit there makes for such a pleasant outing, especially in the spring or in the autumn. The lovely gardens are just one part of the offerings at the Fundación Jakober, the other part being an impressive display of art, old and new, of paintings, sculpture and landscape installations (see photo above). In the main building, there is also a very special, old coffered Mudéjar ceiling.

The Fundación is open for visits all year around, from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Every Tuesday, there is an Open Day at Sa Bassa Blanca, when admission is free (09h30-12h30 and 14h30-17h30). The Mudéjar ceiling can be visited by appointment on Thursdays (10h00-12h00). For information, telephone 971.549.880.

The photo (top) was taken near Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2008. The time was 16:30:10. It shows the detail of a sculpture by Ben Jakober (La Marseillaise, 1988), designed for the celebration of the French Revolution Bicentenary. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of arteinformado.com.

Muchas gracias.