The Art of Poetry

Es Comú Muro Mallorca

Allow me, please, to remind you that today, March 21st, we celebrate the World Poetry Day. The marking originates from a decision made by UNESCO in 1999 in Paris to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities. Much to my regret, the Mallorcan language is one such endangered language.

Poetry is not just verbal or lingual; poetry is manifested in sound and in movement, in disposition and in structure, in shape and in chaos. There is poetry in nature, in life forms, in ritual and in art; there is poetry in maths and in music; poetry can simply be found everywhere and at all times.

There was poetry in yesterday’s eclipse of the sun, unfortunately not visible in Mallorca due to meteorological conditions, and there is poetry in springtime’s birth of nature with all its sounds and wonders.

Allow me to quote a poem by Joan Brossa, Catalan artist, poet and playwright:

Conec la utilitat de la inutilitat. I tinc la riquesa de no voler ser ric.

(I know the usefulness of uselessness. And I have the wealth not to want to be rich.)

The Art of Poetry

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.

Slumbering Beauties

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

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

Thank you very much.

The Sounds of Silence

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.

Dead as a Dodo

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.


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.

The Cinema and the Rise in Value Added Tax

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.

Walking on Ice

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 and

Moltes gràcies, and

muchas gracias.

Palma Photo 2012