Sunday, March 7, 2010

Back from the USA

It is a wonderful feeling being back "home in France" after almost a week back in the states (without my camera, which I immediately regretted as I flew over the snow-covered Alps from Lyon to Milan before New York). I was lucky to be able to see the AMAZING William Kentridge show at MOMA. I was on the verge of tears as I watched his magical and wild animated films being projected 8 in a room or on multiple layered screens in a constructed puppet-like stage theatre, Tatlin's tower flying by, a man's shadow dancing, constructivist aesthetics, his prolific drawings that flutter in and out of focus and that change birds into buildings and hands into sky. There were also lots of his incredible prints and drawings. The Gabriel Orozco show downstairs at MOMA was also very good but after Kentridge, it felt "lite". I still love his photographs - a series of 2 yellow scooters he finds around town; cans of cat food with a smiling cat on the label sitting on top of watermelons.....Then Huong and Lisa and I trekked uptown on empty stomachs to see the Whitney Biennial. It was maddeningly bad, unforgivably awful. (If anyone reads this and likes that show, please email me and explain why.) Ultimately, it is probably an accurate representation of art today in the USA - superficial, cynical at best, derivative, empty, cold and insensitive, not to mention apolitical and apathetic.

Lauren Cook, a very cool and smart young filmmaker who teaches at University of Hartford came to pick me up at Lisa's apartment in the East Village and we talked the whole way to Hartford - about art, film, the academy, teaching, politics, the art world, feminism, you name it. She took such good care of me and I really enjoyed my time there with her, meeting some great professors and students, critiquing over 20 photo students' work, having my sister Sarah come for my lecture and to spend the hotel night with me, giving my lecture - dedicated to Howard Zinn on "Framing War" about my bomb drawings, my Hiroshima project and now the Resistance. Questions and discussion went for another hour after my talk. Thank god I had a bourbon and ginger ale before my talk!

David's mom and sister Pam were here when I left and they kept David and the kids company while I was gone. David's cat scan shows a long kidney stone, not positioned correctly for ultrasound treatment or for surgery, so we wait for him to pass it = OUCH! He is drinking lots of water and special teas and taking a ton of medicine. The kids and I were so happy to see each other when I got home and yesterday we went to Vienne, an old Roman city about an hour south of Lyon. Here are a bunch of photographs:

The next 8 pictures are of the Saint Maurice Church in Vienne. Imagine a small choir practicing their songs while you look at these images. It was magical:

The family pretending to be a rock band on a fragment of an old Roman street discovered in 1895, housed in a wonderful park with a playground and blocks away from one of the oldest churches in France, now an archeological museum, Vienne:

Harper in the funkiest hand-me-down Swedish dress from Annika, in the Croix Rousse morning light:

The kids love playing chase in the plaza at the end of our street and at the top of the Grand Staircase from downtown Lyon to Croix Rousse:
Guthrie resting in the Saint Maurice Church, Vienne:

Guthrie after climbing on Roman walls, walking back to the car to head back to Lyon after a wonderful day in Vienne:

Doorknocker in Lyon:
And a doorknocker in Vienne:

Birds flying in circles above Croix Rousse, Lyon, on one of the first sunny and warm days when Lucy and Pam were here. They brought and took with them the nice weather. Tonight is snowing hard.
Harper in the morning light in the lobby of the Hotel/Residence Villemanzy, where Pam and Lucy stayed, minutes away from our apartment:
The view from the front of Hotel Villemanzy:

A rainbow on delicious bread at the Croix Rousse market:

One of the 78 Croix Rousse traboules - semi-secret passageways that the silkweavers used to move the rolls of silk safely through the rain. The Resistance also made use of these traboules. This is one of the most well-known and is a shortcut between our place and the Hotel Villemanzy. If you let the street door stay unlocked and open, the city will help offset the cost of maintaining the building. Because of this, many traboules are open to the public:

Back in Vienne, the next 4 pictures are of Saint Pierre, a very old church, now an archeological musem. We were the only visitors and it is full of ancient artifacts and art:

A perspectival door in Vienne:

A pruned tree in Vienne:

A cement ping pong table in an old Roman amphitheatre:

A detail of a window in Vienne:

A window in Vienne:
Back home in our apartment in the late afternoon light:

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