Thursday, July 13, 2017

Day 7: Kassel

 Day 7: Kassel

Weather: Cool to pleasant, intermittent rain, heavy in the late afternoon, clear in evening (though still no sign of stars and THB has only seen moon once on the trip so far)

Quote of the Day: Conceptual art: work such that no one knows what is going on

Department of Health: THB has indicated willingness to participate in a 6 month VR study (that is virtual reality for you technophobes…wait, that includes THB!) that somehow combines cardio (you wear VR equipment while riding an elliptical) and improvements in some health indicators (THB isn’t sure what the measures are…that’s more like your faithful blogger). One of the tour members (CF) has a small start-up based in Austin and also a house in the Oakland Hills, and has promised to come help THB get going in person. It’s a brave new world out there…who knew you could combine chasing art and becoming a VC (that’s not the same thing as VR) victim at the same time?
There must be a baby staying in the hotel, we don't see any children the first few days
In case you missed it, the name of the hotel in Kassel is Schlosshotel. THB and DB sleep in! THB visits the Fitness Center, it’s very small and at least two of the three machines are working because someone is on the exerbike and one of our tour is on the elliptical. THB bypasses the indoor pool/sauna and slides out to the lawn for an impromptu 7 minute workout. Quite pleasant, temp might be around 65 with no wind and a soft lawn instead of a yoga mat.

Breakfast is the usual buffet and an egg making station. The tables are so jammed in and the eating area so congested that it is not easy to get to the buffet after THB sits down (how’s that for diet control!). Doesn’t keep your faithful blogger from having cereal with yogurt and apple, parts of two rolls (with Nutella), a small sausage and a small piece of bacon, two cappuccinos, and some bubbly water (it isn’t easy to tell that “original” means with gas).

Everyone is on the bus ready to go at 9:30…OOOPS! SO NOT TRUE! We have one couple (do you remember our couple from Italy?) that is always late: to the bus and getting to and keeping up with the pre-arranged tours. THB is back to taking pictures of the clock on the bus…maybe THB needs to assign nicknames: how about The Mortician and the Red-head? {They seemed to have got the message: they’re the first two on the bus for the evening outing…or really hungy…or confused as to what time we’re leaving since it changed to earlier and then back to the original time}

Our first stop is to see the Obelisk installation near a tram station in the middle of a downtown plaza, Konigsplatz. Hey, no problem, the bus gets us to within a few hundred meters. Just one problem: it’s raining! One fascinating aspect: circling the plaza is a water feature…there must be one or two days a year when that’s appropriate (Kassel is known for having horrible weather and doesn’t disappoint today).

Dieter addressing the group and explaining the contemporary and older mix of work

Meanwhile, THB is looking at the photos on the wall next to Dieter's focus

The modern work Dieter is discussing

And the old work

Back on the bus for a short ride to the Neue Galerie which normally has Old Masters: for D14 they have emptied the Galerie to hold a large range of work on nationhood and belonging, dispersal and loss (pretty much sums up the overarching theme of D14!). The first hour is led by curator Dieter Roelstrate, and he’s fabulous: sardonic, informative, generous, and, since he’s about 6’5”, he can project well to our entire group. 
Dieter from Belgium

Cecelia approved the inclusion of two replicas; the originals cost too much to ship

THB thinks maybe the one on the right is the replica

Maybe the one on the right?

Books cataloged as stolen from Jews

One large room is given over to art dealing with the Gurlitt estate where German authorities found 1500 objects which had been looted by the Germans before and during WWII and kept by the senior Gurlitt (the son had the collection when the authorities found it). Dieter handles the presentation with finesse and talks about his own situation in curating the exhibition as a non-German asking Germans to help display representations that most would just wish disappear…when will this WWII guilt thing end.

Early in Richter's career he did this portrait of the founder of Documenta, Arnold Bode (Bode did not like the portrait)

Work by Bode (maybe Richter didn't like Bode's work either)

After that, our group splits in two and members of the chorus take over. Our group is led by a young woman from NY who is now living in Norway (and thus seems to have lost her NY accent, to be replaced by something mid-Atlantic) while working on an advanced degree. She is soft spoken and very well informed. 

Rothstein's portraits of her parents

Head of fasting Buddha from 2nd or 3rd century

A giant portrait

There's a huge number of these banners, THB is not sure of the significance

Performance art: there are wandering "sales" people hawking soap

Uklanski did a multi-piece part on Joseph Beuys, contending he was an active Nazi

#23 on bottom row

Beuys told a story of being saved by Lapplanders who rolled him up in a carpet...true?

A multi-media work by Ashley Hans Scheirl:  Golden Balls (#1 piece is an oil painting)

#2: Videos

A video that matches the painting

High up on wall to left of painting: Golden Balls

By the end of the hour we’re the only two in our original group of 9 that is still with her. She then asks for tips on Munster, she’s going for a day later this month. After we’re done explaining what to see, she realizes a day isn’t going to be enough time.

Brats we're quite good...THB loads his with mustard, of course

Meet up with SC and decide to eat at the booths just outside the Galerie. Awesome, dude! Brats all around, a token salad, a few bottles of water, and a bottle of limo (limonetta), $27. Just like Rio, one booth took the money (and handled drinks) and the other dished brats (those young college age grillers looked very unreliable to THB...that is, just like THB did at a similar age when working fast food concessions as a summer job). We’re dining al fresco: tucked as close as possible to the center of large umbrellas as the rain is pummeling down.

From there we visit three D14 museums: Palais Bellevue (excellent), Torwache (small) and Landesmuseum (THB walks up and down the 4 flights of stairs, DB and SC are getting museum-ed out by then).

Selection from the Bellevue:
Below are THB's photos of a video of a woman being chased by a tank, run in an endless loop

Everyday items turned into weapons

Dan Peterman had ingots in at least 4 places in D14

The first one we see inside the Palais Bellevue

Greeks and Syrians playing side-by-side

Refugees sleeping near the Parthenon in Greece

Between museums:
Applying posters in an under-the-road walkway

Torwache (covered in burlap bags)
Covered in burlap

Similar wrapping of building across the street


These photographs of people wearing masks are haunting

A video of a guy standing on a team handball court talking about the arena being the equivalent of a Mayan ruin in less than 50 years

We decide to walk/tram/walk back to the museum. SC is the first to peel off for the #1, THB and DB walk another 30 minutes or so in light drizzle and then concede and get on the tram. THB and DB make it back to the hotel a bit over an hour after leaving the museums and reward themselves with a scoop each of Movenpick chocolate ice cream with a few sprinkles on top, $5 total.

Another Asher caravan sighting

Tram ticket worth $3.20

The number 1 line is straight!!

Torrential downpour in late afternoon

Time enough to rest up, do a bit of blogging, and watch a torrential downpour from our room, and hop back on the bus to go downtown for a visit to the real starting point for D14: entering an abandoned subway/train station reached by walking into and through a shipping container. 
A figure on a pole outside the old train station

Another caravan

The entrance to the installation down inside the train station

Another spooky video: the students rise up to shell their teacher with their books

Shot from video questioning the "right" to perform art on the street

Unattributed pile of Peterman ingots

Extremely well done, with a powerful video, a yurt/tent with some scruffy types bedding down for the night (well, they do have a computer and TV), another interesting video (a guy trying to put on an outdoor exhibit and being hassled for not having the “proper” credentials) and exit out the end of the station to walk back up a steep slope to the bus.

Interesting art inside VOIT

Dinner is at VOIT and we get the best meal of the trip since Breda in Amsterdam (so the best meal of the tour). THB sits between CF (my new medical consultant) and his son and girlfriend (easily the two youngest on the tour) who work for CF and live in Austin as well. The meal is long, pretty, flavorful and simply presented. THB has a sip of the white dry Riesling (very nice) and part of a local brewski (all included in the tour cost).

unique gazpacho

steak tartare

scallops for non-meat eaters

salmon served cool, equivalent of very lightly poached


Veal for meat eaters, very tender and flavorful

Tonight we’re not in bed until 10:30, making it a late night.

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