Please note, this entry is from Mon. May 31, but I was without internet. I haven't changed any of it, so when it says "today," it means May 31. Cheers!Today, I spent over 5 hours at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, and as much as I know that would sound boring to some, I adored it. The Reina Sofia is essentially all modern art (1900 to current, though the newest piece I spotted was 1994), which is, as you might know, exactly what I love most when it comes to art (right down to the fact that not much of it is really, really new). As I wandered, I kept thinking of things I wanted to write down, and I did take some minimal notes on pieces that interested me. “Word Movie” by Paul Sharits (1966, at least I’m pretty sure that’s was the one I was looking at, but the title card wasn’t right beside it, so I’m guessing which one it was) was a projected film of simple printed words on coloured backgrounds, changing at a rapid speed. Each word had a letter in common, and the word was placed on the screen so that letter didn’t move. The words were all really provocative, mostly sexual, gross and crude. What was really interesting though was watching it. At first, I was really horrified by it; some of the words are pretty awful alone, but when you combine them in rapid succession, it’s nasty. However, as I watched, the horror wore off, as the pattern of watching took over. I became desensitized to it after just a minute or so. But really interestingly, the gross feeling of violation came back after another minute or so, and more strongly as I realized that I had been completely able to tune them out in the first place.
I can now say I’ve stood in front of a number of Picasso’s, including “Guernica.” Honestly, I felt little interest when I saw it. The only thing I was really impressed by is the sheer size of it, but I just don’t find it all that interesting of a painting. I feel like my interest in Dali (who I’m getting to), should translate a little bit into an interest in Picasso, if only because Dali was so fascinated by Picasso, but it just doesn’t work that way. The area around most of the Picassos was also so crowded and loud that it was hard to connect with any of the paintings. I actually had a better time on the upper floor in the temporary collections where there were almost no people, and no big name artists displayed. I was finding the time really nice and I reflected on a lot of what I saw there.
I saw another few works by Magritte here, one of which I really liked, called “Pink Balls, Tattered Skies.” I also saw a bunch of Dali’s paintings, including a few relatively famous ones (Great Masturbator being the most famous). I do find his work quite interesting, and I also really enjoyed seeing a few Garcia Lorca drawings hanging beside his. I sat and watched Un Chien Andalou in the museum as well. Lots of people stopped for a few moments, but I was definitely the only one who watched the entire thing. I loved seeing the really iconic moment from that film through the eyes of a bunch of people who didn’t know what they were in for. I, of course, knew that it was coming long before a razor even became visible, but the sounds and faces made by those around me when he slices through the eyeball were really interesting, especially because I think the cutaway to the moon made them think that maybe they wouldn’t show the actual cutting, but when it comes directly back, it’s pretty awful.
I find it really interesting that galleries aren’t lonely places to be alone. This might be partly because I hear more English there than I would on the streets because more tourists come there, but I think too that it’s the kind of place that invites you to reflect and that’s best done alone in many cases. Sure, galleries can inspire really good conversations, but sometimes it’s hard to match paces, depending on what you want to look at.
Anyway, it was a good way to spend the early part of the day (after catching up on some of the missed sleep—I slept until after 10, so didn’t get to the museum until after 11...early is relative here).
I had to switch rooms today, because the one I was in yesterday was actually a double room. It was a much nicer room and I’m a bit disappointed with this one. “Private bathroom” in this case, which I reserved, is a toilet in a separate room with the same key as my room, so only I can use it. The other room had a standard bathroom in it, and a bigger window looking into the main courtyard.
Oh well, at least the shower and sink are still in my room.
I’ve figured out that if I were just coming to Spain in June (ie without the 2 weeks in Vienna, particularly), I would have packed a bit differently. In Vienna, I did actually use most of the stuff I brought with me, but now I’m feeling grossly overpacked here because I don’t intend on wearing jeans and a heavy hoodie in 30degree heat. Here, I could probably get by with just my one pair of sandals, one pair of jeans, no makeup, no fancy dress, etc, but I did use them lots in Vienna.
The other problem I’m figuring out about travel is this: there’s an inherent contradiction in the way that the limited time frame of travel means that you never want to waste any time at all, but that the actual act of travel—waiting in airports and train stations, sitting on planes and undergrounds, moving around encumbered by luggage—it all involves more waiting than most daily life does. I’m still having to remind myself that in 4 days here, there are a limited number of things I can get done, because it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the “I don’t know how to see what I want to see” worm. In Vienna, I had no set list of things I wanted to see, and 2 weeks to spend. Here, I’ve got less than 5 full days total, essentially 3 and a bit remaining, and a long list of things to see. This morning, I created a plan for seeing what I want to see. I considered a side trip to Toledo because apparently it’s really, really beautiful, but I would have to skip several things in Madrid to do it, so Toledo is going on the “If I’m ever near Madrid again” list (I have a few items in mind for the Vienna list like that as well). I feel way less overwhelmed having a plan, and thank god for having my guidebook with me here. I hardly used my Vienna one at all and was thinking “Shit, did I carry all that extra weight for nothing?” No, my Madrid Lonely Planet has thus far been worth its weight in gold.
That being said, at the Reina Sofia today, I bought a Garcia Lorca book of plays, and a new notebook because my crappy one from Natalie and my big school one were not working out for writing on the go. More weight = bad news bears, but I couldn’t help it. I also bought a glass at the Hard Rock Cafe here (because yes, I’m that kind of tourist, STFU) and a hat for my dad (if you’re reading this, Dad, you don’t know about that yet because it’s going to be your Father’s Day present when I see you in Paris, not that it will be wrapped or anything... :) ).
My allergies are making me an absolute basket case here, and if I don’t stop rubbing my eyes, they’re going to revolt and jump out of my head. Actually, they’re bugging me so much, I might not mind if they did. That being said, I’m way too scared to try to find any other meds to take than what I brought with me, given that I don’t speak Spanish, and I’ve had so many problems with med reactions before. Sigh.
At 7, or so, I headed to the Puerta del Sol (that picture is at 11:30 at night though. It was much more crowded at 7), which is basically downtown Madrid. I wandered for a while, bought a new bag to replace the crappy silver bag I brought with me which is falling to pieces, a granizada limon (think lemon slurpee), and some souvenir touristy stuff. I looked longingly at shoes, but I know better than to even ask if anything comes in a 43. Stupid big feet. I also watched a number of really cool street performers, including a guy playing guitar with a puppet show beside him. When I noticed them, the guitarist was playing and singing “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by the Clash, and one of the puppets was a crazy looking guitar player with a mohawk. It was pretty cool. There was also a guy playing this big instrument that I didn’t recognize at all.
I also saw a huge demonstration taking place. Thousands of people marching and yelling slogans that I couldn’t catch (the only word I remember was Palestino), but from their signs, I gleaned the star of David, Israel, and genocide. It was pretty interesting too because it got me thinking about passivity and apathy in Canada. It’s easy to be complacent when life is easy and peaceful and culturally, we’re taught to get along. I don’t know. It’s possible too, that demonstrating is a kind of fashion, since it sounds like it’s very common here. It’s possible that the demonstrators are more interested in the show than the cause, which would cheapen things. I don’t know.
Anyway, by about 10, most stores were closed and I stopped at a little cafe called Arysol, right at the edge of the Puerta del Sol. I ate a bocadillo de queso (think grilled cheese) and a potato omelette (I think it was called patatas bravas). Here’s hoping my egg problem has been all in my head thus far. Time will tell, but so far so good.
Anyway, it’s 1:30 now, and I’m still behind on sleep, so the time is now.