This week’s Cultural Wednesday was an afternoon of modern art, of the more, well, “unusual” kind.
I caught the train from my school, and got off at Atocha, where they have some rather interesting giant sculptures of babies’ heads outside the station. I’m really not too sure what they are meant to symbolise (if anything), but they seem to attract a steady crowd of tourists, keen to be snapped with said objets d’art…
I then walked to the nearby Parque de El Retiro, the Spanish equivalent of Sydney’s Hyde Park or New York’s Central Park. Whilst I’ve been to the Retiro a few times before, I didn’t realise until last week that there are a couple of exhibition spaces there, where they often hold different art shows.
The first of these spaces is called the Palacio de Cristal, and is an enormous structure built of glass and metal.
The artwork (installation? creative piece? insert word of your choosing?) which is presently showing is a soundscape by a German artist, who had spent over 5 years recording the noise of ice cracking and falling (can’t fault him for his dedication). He had used these recordings to create a 2 hour (!!!!!) work of ice sounds, which was played on a loop in the Palacio.
Because the sound of ice cracking is similar to that of glass shattering, the effect was kind of eerie, and it seemed like the walls of the structure were about to fall down.
Ingenious, yes, but not exactly pleasant listening. I felt incredibly sorry for the security guards, who have to stand there and listen to the soundscape for hours each day. They must be going a bit batty.
The second art exhibition, in the nearby Palacio de Velázquez, was even more esoteric.
It was a series of works by a Basque “conceptual artist”, with installations such as Bastardo, which consisted of a school table and chair suspended from the wall, and Gimme Shelter, shown below.
There were also a few written works, which I couldn’t fully understand with my bad Spanish, but here’s a picture of one below (anyone who can translate it accurately gets a prize!):
But the most interesting piece of modern art I saw on Wednesday was in the process of being constructed. At the Retiro Lake, I walked past a couple who had their two tiny dogs perched on a post, and were trying desperately to take their photo. Unfortunately, the dogs had other ideas, and refused to look at the camera at the same time.
I imagine that perfecting this artwork may take longer than the 5 years of recording the ice cracking…