The summer of 2017 saw a curious open air art project in the city of Luxembourg: Air Deluxe. Ventilator ducts were suspended over a large pedestrian area, a poetic metaphor for fresh, pure air which has become a luxury product for many cities in the world, Luxembourg included. The Anglo-German artist couple Helen Evans and Heiko Hansen wanted to evoke, through their work, the problems of air pollution, as well as man’s illusory and utopic desires to harness nature and at the same time to master all the climatic problems.
Autumn. Meditations about life. About my life. The purpose of my life. Missed opportunities. Valuable experiences made. Hidden facets of my character. Mindset evolutions. The passing of time. Future projects. Strong convictions, far-reaching resolutions. A sense of responsibility. Those were my thoughts when I first listened to Theodor W. Adorno’s 6 Studies for String Quartet. Thought-provoking pieces of music, of a singular beauty and with a remarkable expressivity.
Moscow 1953: Stalin dies. The Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact pay tribute to the leader of the Communist world and at least officially people are overwhelmed by sorrow. Many thousands who had suffered under Stalin’s totalitarian regime might secretly have celebrate the day. Others may have chosen to stay silent. Or to express what they felt in a more discrete way. Warsaw 1953: Grazyna Bacewicz writes her Piano Sonata No. 2. An uncomfortable work mirroring an uncomfortable time. Stalin is dead, but you cannot rejoice. Stalin’s ghost lingers on, paralysing society, inspiring fear even from his grave.
Museums of contemporary art are sparsely populated areas. I remember visiting the Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo in Rome several years ago. I showed up on a workday in the morning, and I had the museum all for myself. I was alone. Walking through the expositions felt like walking through a cathedral. Silence all around me. A surreal solemnity. Strange artifacts stared at me and I stared back without understanding what I saw. Some works triggered a meditative moment, others made me just shake my head.