787 words on Travel
Thanks to Ryanair’s generous cancelling of their own flights, my return to Germany was postponed to the evening. While that wasn’t what I had planned for, it meant I had a day to spend in London. Which isn’t the worst thing that can happen. So Dan and me did some shopping and window shopping out of which I essentially didn’t take more than an A-Z for London (which would’ve been quite helpful on our way there). Which probably marks my incompetence at shopping. I can think about things I might want to have. But once I’m in a shop without a concrete plan of what I want, I am lost. I tend to either dislike everything I see then, or just not dare to start giving in to those cravings which would make me walk out of the place with all the books or records they’d be happy to sell me. In addition, the bottom line seems to be that I don’t need anything most of the time in any strict sense of the word. So unless I convince myself that I really need things (like new Sigur Rós albums or iPods), it’s a bit difficult to go shopping as everything seems optional on the same level.
After the shopping bit we went to Tate Modern. Dan not having been there yet gave me a very good excuse to go once more. They have piles of white plastic boxes in the Turbine Hall right now which looked quite impressive and just because you could walk in little paths between high piles of them reminded me – inappropriately – of the Holocaust ‘memorial’ in Berlin. Unfortunately they’re re-designing the galleries on the third floor which are my favourites, so I couldn’t show the cool Rothkos and the stuff around them to Dan.
We did see some cool arty films, though. By Markus Schinwald and Isaac Julien. In this context, two things come to my mind: First, that I find it really hard to tell where ‘art’ starts in films. When are films shown in galleries and when are they shown in cinemas? Does being shown in cinema mean that a film isn’t real art? I don’t think so, but what is it that qualifies a film for a ‘proper’ art gallery then? I have no idea.
The second thing about art films is that I frequently find them to be poorly done from a technical point of view. If an artist can’t handle a video camera why does he film then? Can’t he at least get decent equipment and learn how to handle it? What’s the point of projecting things to the size of a whole wall if a TV set would be more than enough for the material’s quality and bigger sizes will just make it look blurry or noisy?
That’s not meant to say that there is no video ‘art’. In fact, one of the films I liked was apparently produced on proper analogue film and did look quite good. I’m just wondering why this effort isn’t made by all of the film artists. They can’t all be trying to make a point with the poor (technical) quality of their work.
Well, that much for art… we ended up having a coffee in the top-floor café with its brilliant view across the Thames and then did a short stroll across the museum shop. I’ll need to start earning serious money before I can get into buying art books. On a more humble note, I was disappointed to see that they had dumbed down the mugs they sell. A few years ago I got myself one which is covered by a grey rectangle and just has the text
Untitled, 105mmx220mm (actual numbers may vary – but they are the actual size of the rectangle) written on it. Simple and fun. This year’s edition, however, just says
Tate Modern which I found a bit dull.
As time was running quickly, we left to catch our coaches to Cambridge and to Stansted. On the way we passed St. Paul’s with the road in front of it being locked down and full of poncy chauffeur driven cars of the diplomats and other people attending the service for the victims of the July terrorist attacks in London. After meeting Po for returning her keys and a final good-bye I caught my coach to the Airport, trying the Terravision service which is about half the price of the Stansted Express train and wasn’t supposed to take much longer. But still did – because of a fire in some tunnel apparently. Luckily I had stuck to Dan’s advice of catching an early coach so this wasn’t too much of a problem.
That’d be the fire in the Limehouse Link Tunnel, I expect. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure why a London-Cambridge bus service would be affected by it.
I don’t think we should’ve gone through it but we went a bit north of it, I think. Perhaps some side effects of the tunnel thing… or the driver just not being very good. In fact, a guy on the bus went to ask the driver whether he knows where he’s going. I didn’t pay attention but we seemed to be going in a circle or so.
Enjoy a photo from the visit at Tate Modern.