Yesterday I took myself off south-west on a journey I have had far too much time to do before now yet have never done so. Dahlem Museen has one of the wonders of Central Asia, depending on how one looks at it, pillaged from Xinjiang and other ~stans, or saved from the Cultural Revolution, or well, yes saved from that but even before destroyed in the Second World War. And even before all that, some time when Islamic zealots were being rigorous in raining righteous vengeance down on idolatry (i.e. around a millennium before the Taliban at Bamiyan), most of the faces of Buddha were methodically bashed out.
So of what’s left, besides what Auriel Stein picked up for the British Museum and other Great Game ethnologists in Paris and Beijing, the Grünwendel and LeCoq purloinments ending up in Berlin comprise one of the largest collections of Central Asian, Silk Route, and Buddhist art in the world. Mmm, yes, why I have waited four years to drag myself half and hour to Dahlem is a mystery.
Maybe because the exhibition halls are so vast and many. I spent five hours there yesterday and barely passed over the contents of two of the halls, of which there are around eighteen. I had to take a pause mid-way also, before climbing the stairs for the Chinese collections of red lacquer, ceramics, tea ceremony objects, purposefully avoiding anything not absolutely Central Asian or Chinese (besides some Japanese stuff), just to be able to be thrown out at closing having seen at least some of what I went there for.
And then to the Konzerthaus, picking up Dasniya fortuitously in the U-Bahn, to see the Kammerorchester Berlin and our friend and Contrabass player Jochen work their way through 90 minutes of Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi.
And somehow this beautiful Bodhisattva Guanyin of all the masses of heartrendingly beautiful art quite grabbed me. And this tea ceremony water pot also.
There is a piano restorer in Uferhallen. Once a week or so the forecourt fills with many cars not from this part of town and people sit on an assortment of chairs beneath and around a mismatched arrangement of lamps and pianos Hammerflügeln in all states of dismemberment. Rows of keyboards like the rubble of old teeth.
Dasniya and I went to see Nicolas Bringuier play Schubert and Liszt (as well as a Mazurka) on Friday night. The second half, 6 Etudes d’execution transcendentes was something special, almost meditative in its intensity.
Also I thought, while taking some photos, about the place where I spend so much of my time. Uferhalen, the various artists who make something of a home here, the tree-filled corners, the ateliers, all of this special place. I think perhaps if circumstances allow to document the mundane side of here.
Emile took me along to see an exhibition of Peter Saville while we were in Zürich. I’m really surprised at myself for not blogging it. Firstly because his album art for Factory Records, and especially New Order is unequivocally a unique and important body of work that goes far beyond cover art and design. To look at his processes for creating the images, his collection of typography, the bands he worked with who had a profound influence on me, all that should have been enough for a blog.
Beyond the archaeological though, his cover art for Suede’sComing Up was one of the pivotal influences on hell. Conceptually, it solved the progression of all the Vampiros Lesbos reanimated corpse stuff, and opened up the scene into the demonic incubi and succubi and what followed. And visually, for any of you with either the DVD or the flier, if you compare the scrawled text ‘coming up’ and ‘hell’ you’ll suddenly go, “Oh, Frances cut all those letters up and rearranged them”. (For an easy clue, ‘o’ is ‘e’.)
Anyway, last night I got to see a couple of bands. The headliner was this old group that split up years ago and got back together to make an easy buck. They were one of the seminal groups from the late-80s and early-90s, and most people who hang around any inner city could probably sing along to them. It was kinda like a gig your parents would go to, and you’d be all like, “Aw jeez, my parents are so uncool”, trying to relive their youth. I keep thinking Air Supply…
And once this band could really rock out. A lot of my friends loved them so they’ve swirled around my life for ages, though as usual – like the second band Phoenix that are quite the tasty new things at the moment – I’ve been listening to too much Black Metal and missed all the excitement, then and now. It was a trip down memory lane for most people there, a sing-along karaoke of all the hits. But … no heart. Music by numbers, all played tight and cool, and hard, raw lights. Empty. So like their parents before them, Generation X has become nostalgic for their own past. The band was the Pixies.
This man is a rock god. I never listened to Pulp, but Peter Saville’s artwork for This Is Hardcore was also in the exhibition and had me giddy with its utterly disinterested sexuality. Leo, who has just moved here from Adelaide to go to Art School jumped on me earlier in the night and provided a running commentary of what Jarvis would say in an interview (“sometimes I paint …”), and sang me cool cheerleader songs dedicated to him. And all the while, this skinny guy in tight trousers and black-rimmed glasses so distant in the crappy Myer Music Bowl managed to engage the entire audience, to sound as though he genuinely enjoyed being there, a witty, intelligent raconteur, and deliriously sexy man.
And when he danced. This man has the best stage moves since Black Sabbath before they started snorting coke. He has this geeky, can’t-dance aura that is completely shattered when he does split jumps and every rock god move one after the other. I just wanted to buy a DVD of him live, learn all his moves and stalk him with my unsightly homage of Black Magic. The rest of the night was entirely devoid of what rock is supposed to make you feel, but Jarvis!!! … I want you!!!
(I took some photos with my phone … I’m never going to wash it.)