Any great work of art... revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world - the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air. ~Leonard Bernstein, What Makes Opera Grand?
Today was a field trip day, which is nice because it means free museum passes! We went to the Rodin Museum first, which I have already visited, but that I enjoyed seeing a second time anyways. It's nice to go and look at the sculptures again when i understand more about them. Like this time, it suddenly made sense why 'The Thinker' was on the Gates of The Hell. The Thinker statue was originally suppose to be Dante pondering over his Divine Comedy, the tale of the after life, so it makes sense why his statue would appear over the Gates of Hell.
I also got to explore a little more. I saw parts of the gardens I hadn't seen before and was really excited when I found new color settings on my camera! I've been really happy with my camera this trip! It's great and compact! It's been a bit hot around so I'm having to be extra careful to stay hydrated and cool since AC is kind of a luxury here. We have to go slow and be careful about how long we spend in the sun, though it does seem to be cooling down at last. There's a nice breeze tonight and a bit cloudy. I've also noticed it's getting darker earlier. It now gets dark close to 10 instead of 11, so that's exciting.
After that we headed to the Museum of Modern Art... which I had also visited. But once again, I found things I had missed, including an amazing exhibit of a picture taking up a whole room and made of 250 canvases. It was massive. I can't imagine how long it must have taken to create, canvas by canvas.
After that, I headed over to the Tokyo palace, a place that is so modern that is on the 'bleeding edge' of art (according to the website). It had the most bizarre and interesting art exhibits I have ever seen. There was a sold white room with a cube and then there was an elephant, balanced on it's trunk in the middle of the room. That is probably one of the most bizarre and memorable images ever. There was a machine that shot empty glass bottles into a cement wall at random intervals.. and a hall of Darth Vadar masks all programmed with artifical brains to create gothic music that you could hear in the whole museum
However... the most amazing thing to me was the Dump by Christoph Büchel. It appears to be just a big pile of trash when you approach it, but there is a tunnel that leads into the pile. I signed up and came back a few hours later... was given a hair net, and a hard hat and with two other people...we headed inside the Dump... It was one of the most amazing moments of my life. After going through the pipe you emerge in an entirely new world. A world built of trash, of debri, of garbage. Beds, rooms, walls, everything created from trash. The space was tiny, even for me, it was a tight fit, I kept knocking my head into the ceiling beams, but it was so amazing at all the things inside, the amount of items collected.
Continuing through you can find a semblance of a twisted home, ruined computers, a TV stuck forever on a soccer game, sewing machines, and I distinctly remember the sight and smell of cigarettes. It was a little challenging since the guide spoke little english, but the french man I went in with was very helpful and kind. And honestly, I didn't need to fully understand, I was just absorbing, and in total awe of this bizarre world all around me.
After squeezing through the tight halls and nightmare rooms, we reached a ladder, and began climbing up into a garage where an old classic car rested, tools all around, parts of all sorts laying strewn about. Walking through the garage we reached a huge dining hall. The first room where we could all stand up straight. It had food laid out, was clean, not much trash, and stuffed animals hung along the ceiling. The water was dirty, but it was a totally different space from the world below.
We lingered up at the top floor for a while before we finally began descending back down. On the way back out to the tunnel, my new french friend pointed out a map of the United States to me. Only it was upside down. That is one of the things I remember most distinctly. My french friend and I were briefly seperated from the guide, but only for a second, and then we were soon climbing back through the storm drain pipe and back into the 'real' world. We dropped off our helmets, threw away our hair nets and bid each other 'au revoir' with flushed faces, the heat of the Dump had been overwhelming.
On the way I noticed a sign describing the current theme of the Tokyo Palace, the Superdome. An area of extreme joy and sports, and more recently, a place of devestating sorrow after Hurricane Katrina. That was when it hit me that the Dump was not just a cool exhibit... it was a representation of the victims of Katrina and what they went through. Their entire life destroyed, everything familiar was suddenly confusing, frightening, and unknown. Things didn't make sense. Nothing worked, it was always hot, dirty, dangerous. They were forced to lived in filth because there was no where else to go. It was just a really powerful representation.
The artist, a Swiss man, is known for creating these kinds of exhibits and if he ever creates these kind of exhibit near me, I will be attending. It was amazing because the guide told us that the entire Dump was created in a month. The sheer detail that went into it is unbelievable. It's not a tiny area. It took a good 20-30 minutes to explore with a guide, alone it could take hours. Everything is there for a reason. A house under filth, built by filth, and supported by filth. It was just a totally amazing experience that I will probably never be able to fully explain.. but I tried to at least.
After that I went back to the Cite for dinner and ended up just laying on the lawn, just relaxing and talking, enjoying our time. it was very relaxing, and oh so french. It's hard to believe that in a week I will be home in Georgia, hearing english all around me, and seeing my friends and family again! :)