Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig"

Back home she is. Celebrating Christmas holidays with her friends and family from the 23rd of December onwards. Getting into the right mood at the annual (and indeed very German) Corvus Corax Christmas concert in Berlin - and then beaming over to Witten for the rest of the package.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Leaving New York Never Easy"

There she is, sitting in front of her computer and checking back on her flight schedule online. Apart from a little naughty delayed flight in sweet little London town, everything seems to be okay, the big iron birds are all on time it seems. Got my stuff in my bags, handed in all papers, and still got one precious day left in The City - intending to meet friends to have a proper last supper and say goodbye for now.

Once I am back in black in Europe I will return, and probably give you quite a few final thoughts about living and studying in New York. It is also quite likely that I will continue to enlighten your life with reporting from "small town" Berlin, Germany.

In case I don't make it on time, I wish you a nice Christmas and make it a merry one, lads!

So long,

... and I leave you with


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Metropolitan Art, Random Fragments"

[non-verbal] ... ;).


Today I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art - FINALLY! Something I always wanted to do since my arrival but never got down to, as I had so many other things in my head and on my busy schedule. But I would've hated it not to be able to go, so I took one of those last precious days in The City and went uptown.

I already got lost after the sections on ancient Greek and Roman art. Felt quite Pergamon to be there. Maybe the first signs of the coming transition evolving from my unconscious.
However, I didn't feel like staring on the plan - as there were more important things to stare at. And after a while, I saw quite familiar faces again: The Burghers of Calais, by Auguste Rodin (above). I was kind of surprised that there are so many of them. I already saw those fellows in London during my year on the island. The sign below the statue said that they also hang out in front of the city hall in Calais. And now a third group? Call me a layman, but what happened to copyright in this case?

I kept strolling around, watching for suitable images to catch with my not so new anymore favourite toy. I spotted quite a few new things, and got to know art from Oceania for the first time in my life. Quite impressive. I skipped most of the Medieval section though, as I was more drawn to the classics.

Obviously I was quite eager to get to the part on modern photography, too. One of the most promintent images I took with me, I show you below now, without further comments for my part.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

"Snow White - Frostbite"

Yes, there was snow in The City!

Today, it is all gone again and the sun is shining - which is really good actually, as it'll drag me away from my computer - as soon as I have finished this final exam thingy.

Another weather condition that drags me out of my dorm is the fact that there are visitors from yet another island in The City - I already very much enjoyed their British company for one evening, including having to smell "wet dog" again, and reciting nasty slang words whilst walking up Christopher from the piers, and almost gotten brain-eaten by a gargoyle.

You don't believe that? Well, I admit, I never thought I'd be brave enough to hold my nose over a glass of Hobgoblin again ...
Ah - you don't believe the gargoyle thing either. Well, we spent parts of the evening at a very suitable location in The Village, a restaurant and social club for explorers and mad scientists. And apart from fiddling death, Jekyll and Hyde in cages, a pretty exhausted Frankenstein on a stretcher and Sir Standalot in the corner, there was a hungry gargoyle staying quite close to our table.
Very hungry.
VERY hungry.
He was willing to trade his wings for brains in the end. Of course everyone denied initially. And so did I.

Then I gave it some second thoughts.

My brain. A pretty nasty greyish blob inside my skull. Smells probably rather disgusting, too.

.... Wings ....

My brain. A greyish blob that makes me stay in libraries, in front of white sheets of paper, and behind books since quite a few years now.

.... Wings ....

My brain. A blob that makes me write final exams and essays and papers and response papers all over again.

.... Wings ....

Hmmm ....

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"It's The Final Countdown ..."

What?! Already! No way ...

Yes, it actually is the final countdown, again. I am in the process of finishing my final exams and papers and I just came home from giving my last presentation for this year. I already sadly said goodbye to some people I got to know and like in my time over here, and I already shed a tear or two over those goodbyes, even though I still have more than a week left in The City. I do hope and believe to see them again one day, but still.

There's nothing worse in life than doing things for the very last time.


Monday, December 10, 2007

"Curio At Astor Place"

I missed two trains the other day waiting for this photo to happen. It's been worth it, isn't it?

It made me smile the whole trip uptown to 86th street where I was meeting another visiting scholar to finally go into the Guggenheim museum. I am actually considering the renting of a public toilet in Berlin now to change it into a record store. Anybody with me?

Guggenheim itself was even more fun that evening. It's been very crowded, as on Friday nights you don't have to pay the regular entrance fee, but give a donation of as much as you think is appropriate (we figured five bugs for two students was more than appropriate).

Apart from that I was happy to finally see the Sonic Nurses by Richard Prince, and to visit my favorite Yellow Cow again, a painting by Franz Marc I had already seen in Germany before. I kindly added this faithful photographic reproduction of the original two-dimensional work of art to my blog - as it is now part of the public domain because its copyright has expired, but only in the EU, the United States and Canada and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years. Anyone dropping by from a different country, please close your eyes


Saturday, December 8, 2007

"Final Photo Project: At Janet Goldner's Studio In Brooklyn"

Final Photo-Essays are stressful, but just until you know what you want to do and how to do it. So basically until the week they are due ... ;o)

I was lucky though, as I kept in touch with Janet Goldner and was able to convince her of the fact that being a fly on the studio-wall is one of my easiest exercises ...

As the attentive reader already knows, she is well into sculptures and steel-art, using a welding torch as a drawing instrument and combining cultural influences from Mali with her own North American experiences - frequently drawing on contemporary social and political topics, too.

This afternoon she prepared little pieces of steel-art for a giveaway art project that took up the idea of the "Art-in-a-Box" project in California where people used old cigarette automats to sell small pieces of art instead of small rolls of tobacco, filter and paper.

I was lucky with my timing, because by now she is already on her way to Mali again for another two months of togetherness with local artists and friends.

It's been a really nice afternoon of learning a lot, listening to the radio, drinking good tea, messing up my camera settings and at long last getting my jeans really dirty again, because of all the ash and sparkles flying around.

It felt a bit like being @home again.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"My Roommate's Sister's Art"

My roommate has put up some small pictures in our dorm-room, painted by her older sister from California. Over the weeks, I got to really really like them - so I wanted to share them with you.

Unfortunately she didn't continue painting after this class she took, my roommate said. I wish she would though. I love those pictures!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

"Blipfestival 2007: - The Aftermath, or: I JUST DID IT!"

I don't need to say anything else, do I?

=> As for PaddleWar! - I won 21 to 8. That is 8 points worse than I was 15 years ago. The age?
=> As for the Baby Sitter - I am still on that rescue mission. Do you think she could show a little more patience? I doubt it though, I mean, after



years ...

"Blip Festival 2007: Game Boys and Console Girls - Wasted Global Youth?"

Cultivated nerdism reached Chelsea's Eyebeam Atelier this weekend: The Blipfestival celebrated international artists and performers who are well into chiptunes and 8bit music.

Celebrated what? Some of you might ask now. Well, for the ignoramus amongst us: There are several lads and ladies around who were nurtured by early video games, wasting away their spare time after school playing games on Ataris, commodore 64s, portlable Game Boys and early consoles. All games had particular soundeffects combined with their moveable visuals. Some of you might be able to recall the music coming out of rather crappy speakers of the machine involved while you or your children were playing yet another level of Asteroid, The Great Giana Sisters (one of my early favourites, I have to admit), Frogger, Tetris, X-Wing, Super Mario Land (a later favourite of mine) or whatever game they were into before or instead of sleeping. Those sounds are now remixed and new songs are created with the early sound programs. Different approaches are taken, some include other music instruments such as a guitar or a set of drums, others include vocals or dance-beats: the old sound of the nurseries enters stage and dancefloor.

Saturday night at the Eyebeam was a sold out night.
Dress code: hoodie, jeans and trainers for the masses and a little costuming for a few extroverts, "nerd chic" presented by a few hipsters who tried to look like Giana or Mario themselves. I was especially struck by a girl with bright red tails and a red xtra large "Nintendo Rehabilitation Center" shirt and a pretty heavy looking japanese underground Grindcore DVD at the merch table that was kind of re-evoking the prejudices I had when I first heard of that kind of music. That night, people were happily bouncing to the tunes of Mark Denardo, Tree Wave, and watched the visuals of No Carrier and other artists that were brought together by The Tank and the 8bitpeoples community.

After about three hours I felt three very urgent needs:

1. to get rid of the second half of the now stale "Brooklyn Weisse" I bought with a little to much enthusiasm upon arrival (man - they should NOT be allowed to call that stuff "Weisse", it tastes like a mixture of wet dog, sugar and vinegar)
2. to sit down, and

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Monday Morning's Memories: A Weekend On Long Island"

Another weekend on Long Island is over, a nice weekend in Vel's realm that ended with the best pizza I have ever eaten in the States - island pizza.

It was a weekend full of thoughts,
a sunny weekend,
a cold weekend.
It was a weekend full of walks,
a colourful weekend,
a sea weekend.

It was a weekend full of talks,
a grave weekend,
a laughing weekend.
It was a weekend full of tunes,
a silent weekend,
a singing weekend.

It was a weekend full of
small stones
and big trees
and buzzing laptops
and crackling sheets of paper,
big books,
small words,
big poetry,
small mistakes,
bad dreams
and good mornings.

It was our weekend.

Thank you!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Thanksgiving, Central Park"

Damn, is it already the fourth Thursday of November?! I was thinking to myself last week, when everyone left The City to celebrate Thanksgiving with their friends and families. The American harvest season is over, people traditionally give thanks for the things that they have at the end of this season.

I am spending parts of the weekend at Vel's in Port Jefferson, escaping from the noise for a while. But on Thursday I went to visit some already familiar faces again, and enjoyed the colourful leaves of the trees in the park.

One of those faces is Sir Walter's (Scott, above). He is a Victorian bronze sculpture who took off his veil in 1880 - hanging out next to his fellow writer Robert Burns in Central Park ever since, rain or shine. Another familiarity is the saxophone player (below) who just tuned into another jazzy song upon my arrival. I guess he isn't standing there quiet as long as Sir Walter, but he didn't seem to be a newbie either.

After listening for a while I did what I always do when I walk across the Park and what I came to appreciate: I got lost. Ended up circling around one of the lakes until I finally reached Columbus Square again, ready for my rather non-traditional but still nice Thanksgiving dinner. Want to know what it was?

Well, that is something I don't reveal in public ...

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Islip (2): Janet Goldner's Sculptures"

I told you about my final destination the other day - well, here we go:

I finally got to see Janet Goldner's sculptures in Islip.

They are situated in the yard of an old carriagehouse that is by now some kind of the arts center of the town. Of course, as almost everything else these days, it was closed down for the season. Which gave me as much time as I needed to walk around without any further distraction and the opportunity to examine the sculptures, take some pictures and notes, and another deep breath or two of the sweet Long Island air.

All sculptures are dealing with immigration to the United States. Some very impressive facts and quotes are carved out of the steel-templates.

They tell a great deal of what it was like to leave home and find a new one on these grounds. In fact, they tell a great deal of what it is like nowadays, too.

I took some of those people's memories with me, some I would like to share with you, as Janet Goldner shared them with the people of Islip and their visitors - visitors like me who are here to find out a little bit more of what it means to be American.

Wanda Riviera, immigrated 1989, Puerto Rico:
"The said NY is beautiful, a lot of freedom. When I came here I felt freedom, then I was scared."

19th century Italian story:
"When I got here I found out three things: First, the streets weren't paved with gold;
Second, they weren't paved at all; and Third, I was expected to pave them."

Mary McCarthy to her family in Ireland, 1850:
"When you are coming do not be frightened, take courage and be determined and bold in your undertaking. As soon as you receive this letter write to me and tell me when you are to sail and the name of the ship as I will be uneasy until I get your answer."

Louise Nagy, immigrated 1903, Poland:
"Everyone lived in little cliques so they could help each other out. Maybe one knew a few more words than the other. They used to live 10, 12 people in one room because one was helping the other get established."

Rose Halpern, immigrated 1923, Russia:
"We paid him to take us across the border. About 50 people, we all paid him. My father carried my brother, he was 5, 6 years old. Carried him on his back. And we crossed, finally crossed the border in mud up to our knees."

Vernor Nicolls, immigrated 1915, Barbados:
"The first morning my father said 'I have something to show you.' We went to the window. He said 'This is snow. Open the window, touch it, hold it.' I remember very vividly that first experience."

Walter Wallace, immigrated 1923, Lithuania:
"It was kind of bad 'til we got to know people, speak the language and quit being called greenhorns."

Carmen Ayala, immigrated 1958, Puerto Rico:
"The government accuses me of being lazy, but I want to work. I also want to learn more English. I don't know what to do if I can't find a job. I am thinking for the future of my family. I am thinking about the poor people and the old people. I am thinking what is going to happen to us."

Pauline Curtis, immigrated 1930, Albania:
"My mother's number was called first, six months later my sister's, then it was four years before my number was called. My father stayed in the US for five years before we could become a family again."

Dr. David Ho, immigrated 1965, China, AIDS researcher who pioneered the use of drug "cocktails" to fight HIV:
"People get to this New World and they want to carve out their place in it. The result is dedication and a higher level of work ethic. You always retain a bit of an underdog mentality."

I strolled around the area for quite some time, trying to imagine how it would be for me to go on that one-way trip. I didn't come to a satisfying conclusion though. Then, on my way back to The City, I had a bagel and some creepy tasting juice-drink (Tropicana whatever, never again) at the sole café that is close to Islip station ("Bagels + More"). Some locals dropped by to have their take away lunch prepared. Bought the last package of vinegar crisps I initially intended to buy and then didn't, something I regretted when I was on that L.I.R.R. train again.

While I was sitting there eating my bagel with plastic cheese, the local radio station played Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" - and strangely enough it reminded me of home,

smiling ...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Islip (1): Long Island's Suburbian Dream"

The L.I.R.R. took me to East Islip this week, a small community on Long Island.
In 1693 an English aristocrat named William Nicoll purchased some land to build a family residence. His land comprised 210 km² from the Secatogues Indians, including territory reaching east to Bayport, west to Babylon and north to Lake Ronkonkoma, including the area I visited that day.

East Islip itself has nowadays around 4500 households. 70 % of the residents are married couples, many of them having children under the age of 18. The median household income for a family is about $ 80,000. In fall, the leaves of the trees are very colorful and from my observations I can tell that many people enjoy gardening and have a soft spot for terracotta figures and wind chimes.

Also, there is a Carriage House in Islip, which was my final destination that day, as it is home to five of Janet Goldner's sculptures.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

"Processing Data ..."

Green Tea, apparently of great knowledge of Chinese proverbs, says that "a wise man adapts himself to circumstances, as water shapes itself to the vessel that contains it".

Changing systems means accepting various necessities for adaption.
One of the minor ones I am just working on is adapting to different seminar structures and increasing numbers of papers that are due within the semester itself, on top of the regular workload, and not - as I am used to - in the beginning of the next semester.
Apparently I am not yet fluid enough.

But still, there is hope: the day is still young and the kettle is already boiling ...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Brooklyn Museum - The Dinner Party"

I just happened to end up in the Brooklyn Museum today.

That's just one possibility of what can happen to you when you grab your stuff after a nice and long breakfast, walk down a random street, get on a random train around noonish on a random but rather coolish Saturday in November, at some point in the 21st century.

I could have made this a planned trip. But, why bother? Fate works it out for you anyways.

In some respect, museums are like churches and future employees - you don't call them, they call you.

Time to finally see "The Dinner Party" in real, color and colorful.
Judy Chicago invited them all to gather around a huge triangular table (forty-eight feet on each side):

The Primordial Goddess
The Fertile Goddess
The Snake Goddess
Saint Bridget
Theodora of Byzantium
Trotula of Salerno
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Hildegard of Bingen
Petronilla de Meath
Christine de Pisan
Isabelle d'Este
Elizabeth I
Artemisia Gentileschi
Anna van Schurman
Anne Hutchinson
Caroline Herschel
Mary Wollstonecraft
Sojourner Truth
Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Blackwell
Emily Dickinson
Ethel Smyth
Margaret Sanger
Natalie Barney
Virginia Woolf
Georgie O' Keeffe

and in addition to these 39 ladies, no less than 999 other women who changed the world one way or another but who were written out of the historical record until recently. An impressive piece of modern art - I allowed myself more time to absorb than usual.

I also had the chance to audit the presentation of Mary Beth Edelson and gain some interesting insights into her work, and to get to know Janet Goldner as we both just happened to have a belated lunch and a book next to each other in the museum's café. A lucky encounter.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

"New York City Marathon: Asides"

Whilst shooting sports it is nice to get away from your actual subject every once in a while and keep an eye or two on the crowd (below) or on fellow hunter-gatherers (above). This particular guy appeared to have at least as much fun with his lady than I had with my favourite new toy which looks quite similar in action.
And best of all, he was caucious not to step into my way even though shooting from almost the same spot; he deserves a Brownie point for that one!

Mum, Dad, why don't you leave your kids at home when they are much more interested in their gameboy (or whatever new mobile gambling device) than in some old folks running around town? It definitely would be less cold to sit on a couch than on the ground for this young lady!

Well, the last shot speaks for itself ...

Monday, November 5, 2007

"New York City Marathon: Run Forest, Run!"

This week's assignment for my photojournalism class was to cover the NYC Marathon. 42,195 km of something I've never seen before, Staten Island to Central Park, Manhattan, through all five boroughs of The City, the largest marathon race in the world - it promised to be very exciting. And it was!

I decided to be an early bird and went to 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, where I took most of the shots that day. First, I took half an hour to walk down the track, to take a coffee to go with me (something I got used to very quickly living in New York), and to find a good spot from where to get my pictures - and above all, to enjoy the silence before the storm.

The first to get started was the wheelchair division. The quickest of all the marathon participants was Kurt Fearnley (AUS), who crossed the finishing line in Central Park after 1:33:58. Second quickest was Edith Hunkeler (SUI) after 1:52:38.

The wheelchair division was followed by the top men and women - all bones and muscles.

Martin Lel (KEN) won the men's race after 2:09:04, top woman was Paula Radcliffe (GB) after 2:23:09. Probably it would take myself about the same time to drive that route.
The tops were followed by the masses - a total of about 40,000 runners.

Have you ever had some thousands of people running towards you?
It is quite an impression, I can tell!

Keep moving, folks!