– is where –
– I live.
– is where –
– I live.
My perspective of my second touring of Granada’s Alhambra. Took me far too long to get around to editing these, but I’m pleased with how they turned out.
If you’d like any of these images in a larger size, ask and ye shall receive.
And, at last, the magic auxiliar princess snapped her french-manicured fingers, and – poof!– in a puff of brilliant rainbow smoke, absolutely everything was resolved. Her adoring public was fully aware of the enormity of her slew of trials/tribulations/quests/slaying-of-dragons, and immediately forgave her the brief lapse in verbal communication. For, in their collective heart of hearts, they knew she carried a little bit of each of them with her always, akin to a beautiful golden charm necklace strung thickly with love, gleaming pearls, and bits of coral from all seven seas.
Oh, non-magical-Far-Away-Land audience, how may I placate thee? For amongst your mongering hoards lies one particularly insistent, fastidious clamorer: she goes by the name of Inner Monologue, and she’s a tricky bitch to satisfy. She seems obsessed with motion, specifically, my own through space and time, and never tires of nipping at my heels with the most stinging whelps of questions – “But why? To what end? From whence have you come, and where exactly is it that you think you are going? …… eh, princess?”
….. shhhhhhh. If you don’t speak a little more softly, you might miss it.
So I’ve decided to stay in Madrid another year. BAM. My coordinator’s been out the past week on personal leave, but I should be able to catch her tomorrow and declare my intentions to renew my contract. I’ll be staying at José Luis Sampedro – that’s part of the bargain, and I wouldn’t have it any other way – and will be working officially for the Comunidad de Madrid (not Fulbright). I earn just a smidgen less, which I plan on making up through teaching weekly clases particulares, and I plan to continue living with the same folks – Hector and Marta – assuming they too choose to stick around.
I waffled on this decision for a spell, unsure if staying equated to stagnancy. But even my Inner Monologue Mistress knows that one’s time is absolutely dependent on what one makes of it.
Me, I have big plans. Things I’ve wanted to do since coming to Madrid that have yet to be realized (finding a darkroom I can play in), things that are on the cusp of beginning (a massive mural project, studying German), things that come up unexpectedly all the time just waiting for me to sign up for the ride (Florence?). I continue to do freelance projects for InMadrid magazine; the January issue holds a guide I sketched out of my home barrio of Atocha, and up-to-bat is a series of articles regarding Madrid’s international ingredient scene. Fulbright’s offered to pay for a Photoshop course; now I just need to hurry up and find one that appeals.
After a month in a state of limbo, much too far away from the creation process, what I want most now is to delve back into honing my various arts, in valuing production over consumption, in being once again impressed by my own output. I am happiest when I write like a madwoman, when I use photography to play with perspective, when I stretch my technical knowledge to edit my photos into a vision of superreality previously existing only within the realm of my imagination. I find that the more I externalize all the bits and bobbles floating around in my headspace, the more complicated and compelling patterns they form the next time I look.
So, I stay. I like it here. Madrid is an excellent setting for me at this stage of my development, and I’m definitely the one mixing up the chemicals. A light leak or two might cause unexpected distortions in the anticipated image, but the magic of the darkroom lies in the ample opportunities for error. There’s no saying I can’t get back out there and shoot another roll.
The brilliant gleam of the new in Madrid has worn thin: the seductive beckon of unremarkable routine can offer too attractive a monotony to brush off like it ain’t no thang. Yet the medley of thangs continues, relentlessly, to occur, whether or not it falls subject to meticulous blogging.
The conversation of how to intermingle working with minors in a government-funded position with the Rights of the Blogger has come up several times, always concluding on a similar note: best to avoid it. I attribute part of my pause in daily wordiness to that phenomenon; this enormous part of my experience here has got to be treated as a bit of a delicate taboo. It isn’t that there’s anything specific I’m omitting – very few students ever get thrown in the Chokey, at least at José Luis Sampedro – but the weight of what I necessarily represent given my unique position can loom, heavy and ominous, when I consider regaling my clamoring international readers with sordid tales of what those sweet little beasties did this time, goddammit.
The other day, I noticed with alarm the extreme frequency with which I was talking about my job while not actually working, and made a pact with myself to immediately staunch that particular river. It grows more obvious with each day: teaching English is a means for me. That’s not what my Fulbright Personal Statement would have you believe, but let’s be straight up here (Straight BlogTalk with Torkington: Like It Ain’t No Thang). With each day, I’m allowing those myriad ingrained traditional understandings of What I Ought To Be Accomplishing With My Life to wither, and doing my damnedest to concentrate all my love and energy on unfurling leafy tendrils into self-development. I am a writer, I am a photographer, I am a chef, I am a linguist – but, more importantly, I am happy, day-to-day and long-term, in a way that makes sense for me specifically.
How ’bout THAT for stinky cheese, dear readers?
It’s okay to be a bit jealous. Let’s go out for cañas and we’ll talk about it.
I’ve been looking forward to the third floor of la Reina Sofia since Leah gushed to me about a German artist featured in the temporary exhibit area that she adored. This Sunday is the Day of Destiny.
The sparsely populated terrace of the museum, recommended to me by Fausto, is dotted by ergonometric benches and lined by the faux-peril of glass walls. I get a new perspective on the black and white bacon.
My personal foray into collage work focused on advertising copy, particularly the attention-grabbing headlines (“Fairies! But Don’t Be Fooled,” “Now Tell Her Where The Thermometer Needs To Go,” “Famous Blowhards,” etc). Feldman works with images, playing with commercialism and sexuality, the extraordinary made banal. I dig it immediately.
Feldman’s photo work is a striking catalogue of the everyday. I’m reminded of Edward Weston’s famous pepper photography.
He’s most successful, though, when he works with the human body and its bits and bobbles.
This room contains portraits of 100 friends and acquaintances of Feldman, each at a different year of his/her life and arranged accordingly. Walking from one end to the other invites an eerie awareness of the progression of age, of our own inclusion on this blown-up lifeline.
“¡El arte tiene derecho a ser malo!” – Hans-Peter Feldman
(“Art has the right to be bad!”)
Sequestered behind a foreboding curtain lies a cavern illuminated with swirling shadow: the myriad forms of a spinning cavalcade of plasticky toys and utensils of all sorts are projected onto the long wall.
The other half of the third floor belongs to José Val del Omar, a famous Spanish filmmaker. The exhibit doesn’t call to me as much as Feldman’s, but it does have lasers.
In constrast to the rotating collections housed on the first, the Reina Sofia’s second floor is much more of a study of various historical phases of modern art. I pass the nippy Sunday morning in the company of Picasso and Dalí.
It’s fascinating to me how aesthetic appeal is so fluid, how certain forms and colors captivate the eyes of one while being completely glossed over by anothers’. I might argue that the masters of this floor understood this in a much more intense way than anyone before them ever had.
Yeah, there’s also Guernica. It’s totally incredible, yes, way way more so than the postage-stamp-sized Mona Lisa in the Louvre. I still don’t like crowds. Someone could do a study of how Guernica changes from being observed so much, reproduced so often. So many camera flashes, instantaneous iterations of “great art.” Barthes would have a word or three.
Her. This. This I just love. Her pose, the colors, the light, the plant-object in the back, her fingers touching hair, the hint of abdominal muscles, the folds in the sheet. “I would have this in my house.”
I still don’t like you, Joan Miró.
El Prado may be masterful in many ways – you gotta love Goya’s Black Paintings, and it’s jaw-dropping to picture the labyrinth of scaffolding required to attempt some of the 10+-foot-high works casually displayed along its hallowed halls. But look – and I’m well aware I’m a philistine in this respect, thank you very much – room after room after room of solemn portraiture alongside bleeding Christ figures bums me out.
Because we’re all about un poco de todo here at con tomates, it is overtly obvious that the even closer Reina Sofia coyly beckons for our patronage. In a manner of speaking, anyway; Sunday late mornings from 10 AM – 2:30 PM offer totally free entry to seekers of the disturbingly bizarre, the beautifully macabre, the subtly unsettling, and the straight-up funky.
Gargantuan B&W bacon informs us that we are in the right place. Our grupito consists of Leah, Emily, Marta, Hannah, and myself, and we agree that we ought to take advantage of the proximity of our piso to the museum, and as such take it slow. We’ll try for just one floor today, and aim to reconvene next week to explore the next.
Museums don’t tend to work so well with this large of a group, and we quickly part ways – which is dandy; this way each can view con calma the works she finds most intriguing. A small selection of what I feast my artistic (non)sensibilities on:
The following three are all details from the same enormous canvas: