Saturday, July 15, 2017

Day 9: Kassel to Venice

 Day 9: Kassel to Venice via Frankfurt

DB amongst THB's VR support team

Weather: Gorgeous in Kassel at 8am (our departure time), Frankfurt is pleasant during the 3 minutes we're outside, and Venice is pleasant and slightly humid (turns out that a gigantic storm came through Venice this morning and cleared out humidity and lowered temsp)
A bus with a pop-up snack stand built in

Our bus with an I-pad; leaving Kassel we see an accident on other side of highway, traffic backed up for kilometers

How big is the Frankfurt airport? There's a fruit stand alongside the route between terminals

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

Buses, Planes, Motor Launches, OH MY! Our wake-up call for 6am comes at 6:20…no problema, THB is up around 5:30, groggy and underslept. Pack our two big suitcases for pickup at 7:30 and head to the buffet: same-same as it ever was except DB goes for very orangish scrambled eggs. Pick up paper bag lunches, board, and the bus pulls out a few minutes after 8am.

Since THB has a bit of extra time and 8 days of exposure, how about a quick review of the 20 tour members (13 women, 7 men):
1.     There are just three couples: the oldest and youngest tour members are couples, with THB and DB smack in the middle of the tour on age. This in itself is very unusual among museum tours, often THB and DB are the youngest or near-youngest members. Is it something to do with BAM? With the three art festivals in one tour? Maybe, just maybe, it is that THB and DB are getting older…
2.       There are eight “single” women (some are single, some are married with partners at home), which includes the BAM curator
3.       There are four ”single” men (…same as women, they may have partners are at home), including the BAM director; one of the men is traveling with the young couple (he’s the dad)
Two women are traveling together, they are not a couple; mom of the missing boyfriend
5.       There’s a broad age range: 23 to late 70s or 80s (THB/DB guestimate on older couple)
6.       On her last night (she left tour before Venice), we find out that one of the women and DB have a Wells Fargo and BofA overlap, know many people in common, and she and DB were pioneers for women in banking management. Since she lives in NY, we won’t have much opportunity to gossip about the old days. She also got her MBA at Berkeley (before it was the Haas School of Business, one of 5 women in her class), another overlap (we were all at Berkeley at the same time). This woman goes by Kay and her real name is Catherine…hmmmmm…this sounds familiar, another overlap?
7.       Most people live at least part time in the Bay Area, so our chances of meeting up after the tour increase; if they have heard about the blog and started reading, chances are probably reduced for a meet-up
8.       Several on the tour are artists, most appear to be collectors, at vastly different levels; THB knows some who have very expensive pieces - $1M and up. So far, there are at least two artists we have seen that are in tour member’s collections, there have to be more.
9.       For the most part, the group has not needed much assistance nor have individuals called attention to themselves (THB knows this is pretty unusual, some tour groups are traumatic experiences for the leaders).  And the Mortician and the Red-head need a bit more time to get themselves together; they also are most likely the oldest two on the trip.
10. There are several other jocks on the tour, which is pretty unusual. At least three have been seen on long walks or jogs, one on an elliptical, and several have discussed using the pools. Must be an age thing.
11. One guy showed up as we were leaving Munster. Two women left after Kassel. 

12. Shorts are common attire among the men, so THB feels right at home.

Our lunch

How far from the gate were we? Good thing THB didn't ride the elliptical this morning

The plane ride gives us time to read ahead on today and organize the mass of articles we brought on the Biennale. So far, the first two art festival stops have been just about right in terms of our ability to absorb the art; THB thinks that an extra day in Munster and Kassel were warranted and yet impossible to coordinate. A day early in Munster meant trying to figure out where the tour was going before the tour started and there was no way to add a day in Kassel unless the tour built it in. We decided to add two extra days in Venice, we’ll see how that works out…our art absorption capability and energy level vs how much is left to be seen.
On the left is our new guide, Eliza, taking over from Milena on the right; they both live in Beaune, France

When the tour arrives at the immense Frankfurt airport, the bus takes some sort of odd circular route to drop us off near Terminal One. How far is it? Less than 200 meters, so we all walk the rest of the way. Check-in is a bit confusing, turns out the auto-check-in machines do not take passports when going to Venice and then when you type in your name you have to include your middle name. After checking a bag, we head to security: an internal tram ride (5-10 minutes); 10 minutes at security as an American rocker strips off everything but his piercings; then we walk, walk some more, walk a long way, and what seems like 20 minutes we are at the gate.

Time to eat our “box” lunch from the hotel: combine cheese and salami into one sandwich, lots of fruit, and a shared bottle of water ($3.50 from vending machine). Nice touch: tables for four at the gate, very helpful for those needing a bit more space (if they had plugs nearby all those portable device folks would be hogging the tables).
Our taxi from the airport is right on time

It takes two launches to handle our group of 22

Entering the city via water is very magical

Flight is around an hour, we’re on the ground after 2pm and regroup at baggage claim after we’ve all picked up our checked bags. Now for something that only a nice (i.e., expensive) tour provides: a ride in to Venice on a motor boat. In our case, two motor boats. What a thrill: great vistas, fresh air (it’s actually not that hot or humid, turns out there was a huge storm this morning that helped clear things up), and a human-scale city.

We meet our new guide, Elisa. She’s taking over for Milena (who is still with us). A bit stronger accent, obviously fluent in Italian. 

A bit of the mission of NSK; bottom more nation states set by geography

Applying for a passport

Two of the lucky ones 
The tilted room THB did not last long in

SC; is she verifying if she can use her old passport?

The first of two stops this afternoon is the last day of the NSK State Pavilion, where you can sign up to be a citizen of an entity without a physical location. First there’s a room at a steep angle that is so disorienting THB lasts less than 10 seconds (think the extreme of a mystery house). Then you can sign up for a passport; there’s not enough time to do that in person, we’ll have to handle it on-line.

The second stop is 4 (or is it 5) story exhibition at the Palazzo Fortuny, featuring many well-known artists interspersed with “native” artists. 

More shots from around Venice:

There's an exhibit using a line from a Leonard Cohen song...Everybody Knows

The exhibition has been rolling through various themes and current one is Intuition. The works are almost universally underlit, THB really struggles to see the attributions. Clearly this is the intent of the curators. We’re led by someone who is from the studio responsible for curating the show, and he is great.

Dario Dalla Lana


Kapoor (though THB thought it was Robert Irwin)

The shadow is the piece, projecting on a wall as you walk in a gallery hallway

Ancient work

SC and DB get "charged" in Marina Abramivic piece

Eduardo Chillida


Giacometti mixed with ancient work

Shozo  Shumamoto



Kimsooja participation piece

Joseph Beuys photo by Giancarlo Pascldi

Beuys was definitely in the German army in WWII...a Nazi?

More shots on the way to the hotel:
Damien Hirst

Next door to Centurion Palace is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection

Centurion Palace

The view of hotel from the courtyard

Depart around 5:15 and after a short boat ride we’re coasting in to the Centurion Palace, next door to the Peggy Guggenheim collection. Our 6.5 floor room is lovely and even better it is right down the hall from the Fitness Center…UH OH!! The FC doesn’t open until 10am. Hmmmmmm….unpack and shower, feeling refreshed. Everything has been stowed away, we’re here for 5 nights.

The room is lovely, with a great view

High ceilings

The view 

The room feels very big, mostly because the bathtub is in the room and not in the bathroom

The first bidet in the bathroom on the trip

Turns out the FC is above another room so they are requesting you not use the equipment until after you've left the hotel for the day

Dinner is perfect: light snacks and drinks

The main course is lemon risotto...very lemony, just the way THB likes it

Drinks and a light dinner in the hotel; very reasonable given a 3-way travel day and chasing art the minute we hit dry land. THB and DB sit with SC and BAMPFA director and D from major tech firm. Fascinating on impact of technology on their jobs, and emphasis of each of their positions. 

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