As soon as I saw this Koala’s selfie, I knew it reminded me of something …
As soon as I saw this Koala’s selfie, I knew it reminded me of something …
Dear Friends, Bondagisti and Dance People!
The month of January saw us in Bologna remounting Romeo Castellucci’s Wagner opera Parsifal, and for February Dasniya was in Zürich rehearsing with Theater Hora for Das Helmi Puppet Theatre’s Mars Attacks. On Tuesday February 25th, we will once more all be in Berlin for the next Yoga & Shibari workshop.
We hope to see you there!
Dasniya & Frances
1. Yoga & Shibari Berlin, February Tuesday 25th, 2014
Hours: 7-11 pm at Alte Kantine Wedding or in our ‘Mini- Dojo’
Both locations are at:
U8 Pankstr/U9 Osloerstr
Please call when you are in the court yard, in case you don’t find it, or the door is locked: + 49 174 393 70 49.
PLEASE REGISTER BEFOREHAND, THEN WE SEND YOU THE DETAILS!
2. Individual workshops: Yoga and/or Shibari or Shibari Sessions
Private coaching in yoga and/or shibari, or gift cards for bondage sessions can be arranged for Berlin from March 1st, 2014. Please write to either of us: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Blogged: Parsifal at Teatro Comunale di Bologna
From our time in Bologna working with Roméo Castellucci on the remount of Wagner’s opera Parsifal for the hundredth anniversary since its premiere at Teatro Comunale di Bologna, you can read about it and see it on both our blogs:
4. Informal showing: Monday February 17th: Mars Attacks, with Das Helmi and Theater Hora, in Zürich
3pm, Monday, 17th February 2014
A matinee is a strange performance to finish a season on.
I thought to take some photos of the theatre, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, where we’ve been the last month; particularly the piazza where the theatre is placed on the north-west-ish side. Saturday, following the wet greyness of Friday was oppositely calm, warm, and a vault of blue. The theatre looked spectacular.
There was another photo I wanted. The first time taking the elevator to the Salle Ballo, thinking it was high up and therefore on the top floor, I ended up in the roof space above the grid, with a small window looking out across the city, through the towers to Santuario della Madonna di San Luca, a view scarcely bettered by any other high point in the city, and one only for those fortunate enough to be lost in the theatre.
We warmed up for the last time, Bonnie, Dasniya, Pericles, and I, pinning on wigs, slathering white body paint, tying up ropes, and then, once again, it was finished.
One final evening in that beautiful city, and today fleeing across the directions of the compass: Bonnie southwards, Pericles east, and Dasniya and I splitting the difference between North, her to Zürich and me to Berlin.
Rain, rain, rain, cold. A perfect day for wandering in the bush. If I had a rain jacket. The last free day in Bologna, and I’d decided some days ago I wanted to get out of the city and see the countryside a little, preferably somewhere in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines which fall on the south-east side of the Via Emilia and Bologna. One place that looked especially attractive was the Riserva Naturale Contrafforte Pliocenico, sadly a long journey by bus, but excitingly close in a car. Which we pile into with Bonnie and Giovanni and the family a bit after midday.
It rains. The clouds drop, mist rises. Visibility plunges to a score of metres. More rain and colder. We drive around, decide wandering is largely a muddy, slippery, sodden proposition, and keep in the car along the winding (sideways and up-down) narrow road looking for somewhere to eat. Closed, closed, also closed. Possibly a winter thing. I’d forgotten the name by the time I got home, so pieced together the junctions on the videos out the side window I was making while in the car, and matched them on a map until I came up with Ca’ Shin on the edge of Parco Cavaioni. Also closed. But they opened for us and served a very typical platter of cheese, cured meat, bread, and honey, which we had two of (yes, that good), followed by apple tart and coffee, all local and part of an bio food community, I think.
It’s utterly beautiful up there, hills and escarpments, too steep to be described as rolling, and despite being so close to the city, having a wildness I like very much. I would be very happy to wander these hills on a day like today.
Tonight was a most excellent Parsifal, the best yet. Only one more to go.
Tuesday before the evening performance, I decide for another museum, this time the Museo Civico Medievale, which I thought could be a good accompaniment to the Museo della Storia di Bologna I visited with Dasniya last week. Again set in a palace, this one being the Renaissance palazzo Ghisilardi, built in the late-15th century and containing one of the city’s towers, Torre dei Conoscenti. It’s very beautiful, with delicate arches; the upper floor ones being half the size of the lower. The museum itself is somewhere between Museo della Storia di Bologna and Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna, having the grumpy, stalky attendants with their coats and books thrown on their chairs of the former, and the smart, room-by-room exhibits of the latter.
It also has the not-so-good audio guide of the former, a combination of the same narrator (probably employed for a bulk job on all the museums) suffering from frequent, abrupt finishings mid-exposition, and either cryptically placed numbers beside exhibits or entirely absent. I discovered though, instead of searching for the numbers, I’d just enter the subsequent one and look around until I recognised what was being discussed. In this way, I found myself quite well-educated on around a third of the exhibits otherwise unmarked.
Besides that – and I found myself enjoying it for the perverse anti-social quality – it is a solid and delightful museum on its own, and in combination with Museo della Storia di Bologna gives a comprehensive introduction to the city for someone like me, an outsider with no knowledge.
It caught my attention over the many other museums for the medieval focus, covering roughly a period from 10th to 15th centuries with some overflow prior – a significant period in the city’s history, and much can be understood by examining this span. Curiously, it starts with two rooms that are not exactly this focus; the second though contains collections of from the 15th century including one cabinet full of Chinese and Japanese works. Outside that door are three Jewish gravestones and one Muslim, which were left homeless due to a papal edict.
Getting into the museum proper then, I find unlike almost every European pre-modern museum filled with religious clutter, this one has rooms and rooms celebrating the university, or more precisely the deaths of its professors. A lot of religious stuff too, though I found the beauty of it, both aesthetically and in the craft of construction caused me to put aside atheist tendencies and be overcome by the sublime. Some of these works are deeply poignant; others joyous. It’s not possible for me to devalue them merely because they have a religious theme or content.
Later, there is a small statue of Mercury, and one of Archangel smiting Lucifer – very similar to the one in Madrid. Then I arrive at war.
Into a red room, suits of polished armour, lines of pikes, hatchets, broadswords and rapiers, helmets, chain mail, jousting lances, mauls, shields, flanged maces … one suit was especially impressive, an asymmetric jousting armour with three massive, square bolts and their threads protruding from the chest, and a solid facepiece except for three tiny holes.
Continuing into the room with 15th century guns, and I was about to get kicked out. I think they are Snaphances or something similar, long-barreled, with a highly-decorative stock and ornate firing mechanism. I ran out of time here, being shooed out by the attendants, grumpy as ever. It had taken me around 2 1/2 hours to get through 17 of the 22 rooms, and missing also a proper wander around the palazzo.
I was thinking also about what makes a ‘good’ museum, and why I might not want every museum to be ‘good’. The Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna is not exemplary by current ideas of what a museum should be and do, being as an acquaintance described it, “a museum of a museum”, yet in its inaccessibility, it also provides for something other than a single superficial visit, a tourist itinerary. The museums I’ve seen recently seem to sit precariously on incomplete history, colonialism, kitsch, populism, a meta-narrative of the subject they attend to. At one and the same time, they also are beguiling and disarming in their love of their subject, the concise summary of the work of uncounted people over centuries. Perhaps one of my basic propositions – however critical I might be of a specific museum or museums, or how museums as a whole currently function – is that I do not question whether there should in fact be museums. Museums, books, art, culture, music, dance, idleness, walking, getting lost … without the arts and culture, humanity is in poverty, and for most of us it is only museums that provide direct access to this from our past.
We usually get home from the theatre around 1am, and another couple of hours for sitting around before properly sleeping means getting up at 10am to go to the theatre again was a wobbly experience. A pause for coffee and croissant and then for me wandering directly south to Monastero di San Michele in Bosco, which I found easily enough, but then my attempt to reach Parco di Forte Bandiera was a complete failure and I ended up wandering among villas along narrow, winding streets without footpaths in the hills with cars being driven with gusto. Coincidently, I bumped into Anna, one of the contortionists while standing in front of San Michele, right about where I took the photos for the panorama.
There was no applause after Act 1, so we didn’t have our aural cue over the backstage speakers to begin our final preparations. At the end of Act 2, the only sound was the rumble and grind of machinery and single voices of the tech crew. No applause. It was Valentina, the stage manager who said it was because the conductor Roberto Abbado, had asked there be no applause until the end in respect of his uncle, the conductor Claudio Abbado, who died the previous day.
This morning I read his obituary in Deutsche Welle. He is quoted, “Many people learn how to talk, but they don’t learn how to listen. Listening to one another is an important thing in life. And music tells us how to do that.” and “Theaters, libraries, museums and movie theaters are like little aqueducts,” and “Culture overcomes social inequities. Culture frees us from poverty.”
While the third Act played, we sat in our dressing room Tersicorre, the four of us eating pizza and drinking wine. Dasniya read a message from Anna (the Mad Anna) describing the first time she met Claudio. At the end of Act 3, there was applause.
A lazy day and no museums open, with Martin arrived from Freiburg, we set off for a wander southwards with the plan to climb Torri Asinelli, the highest tower still standing in Bologna, and one we pass often, being at the hub of a radial set of roads which lead variously towards home, the theatre, south, and other easterly directions. Mostly I wanted to see the city from above and see how the ragged curves of the streets resolved themselves.
The greasy, narrow, steep stairs and head-buttingly low ceilings were completely worth the 3 euros it cost to make the climb, and the damp, grey air somehow also well-suited. I’m sure it looks sublime at the height of summer, but to see it subdued also has its rewards. As for the tower, now 900 years old, it’s sad and dilapidated, far from the days when the city was full of nearly 200 similar such fortifications, impossible to say whether the gaping, toothless holes were part of the original internal floor structure or later additions and removals.
The Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna was the one Dasniya and I intended to visit a few days ago, instead, we veered off to the very good Museo della Storia di Bologna. Today I was wondering which of the few I wanted to see would be the one, and kept coming back to this, despite weird opening hours. It took me until 3pm before I arrived, so some of the exhibitions were closed. I was feeling a little shoddy after yesterday’s performance – mostly tired and in need of low-concentration type activities – so it’s probably for the best.
The archaeological collection available to the public is massive, and concentrates specifically on the Bologna region and city itself, with artefacts dating from 800 000 years ago up till the end of the Western Roman Empire, filling the first floor of the fifteenth-century Palazzo Galvani. Some of the collections are simply hundreds or thousands of similar items – stone arrow heads, decorative clay urns – packed in rows into display cabinets. Unlike the Museo della Storia di Bologna though, it’s not such a good museum if you don’t speak or read Italian. There is an English audio guide, but it’s pretty rubbish; I kept thinking the speaker was about to say more, but, no, and on all but a handful of seemingly randomly selected items he had nothing to say at all. Likewise, there’s a couple of items with English notes, equally seeming selected at random, but these are even fewer than the audio guide, which left me doing an approximate pseudo-translation at first on the copious notes in Italian, then giving up and just staring at decontextualised objects for a couple of hours.
The objects are beautiful and it’s fascinating to see the beginnings of stone tools going from crude hacking to refined blades and heads, then becoming smaller and extraordinarily delicate; the first appearances of bronze and copper, similarly becoming refined and delicate; then with the arrival of the Celts, the first glass, becoming mastered by the time of the Roman Empire. Pottery, glazing, and firing also follow this path, even becoming cruder at one time during mass-production in the Roman era. Of course I especially liked the fully exhumed graves and skeletons displayed in glass-topped coffins (and the head of Athena Lemnia).
It just felt altogether a diminished experience. Almost every item or group of items had at least a paragraph of notes which I was entirely excluded from understanding, and the audio guide, for which I paid an extortionate 4,-€ felt like a thoughtless obligation rather than an object of use, especially next to all the QR codes which seem to be the preferred method of interaction, provided one has a smartphone. For a museum which appears at the top of the list in tourist guides, and despite the quality of the collections, it offers merely superficial, casual, almost careless participation for non-Italian speaking visitors.
As for my understanding of what I was looking at, I’ve done enough reading to have the bones of an idea of the European Palaeolithic, but I’m pretty hopeless at Classical antiquity, and can’t tell Etruscan from Roman; perhaps a good choice for my next subject of study.