Sunday, January 23, 2011

in retrospect...

It's the end, now, of my first New York experience.
I've been on subways, buses, planes...
The opera, Broadway, a musical (yay).
Museums and and museums and museums galore (MoMA, Whitney, Skyscraper...)
and some more. (That I've missed...)

I'm safely ensconced back home (away from home) in Abu Dhabi, writing this last blog post at 2.48am in the morning because of travelling-from-New-York-jetlag.

20 days, just a day under three weeks to absorb a city and its history, its present and its modernity...

Modernity - because the new is in terms of the past, and the old is in the new, and sometimes the present has some past because everything is relative...

Cities and their people, their buildings countries and culture, traditions and manners - ideas made tangible.

I know more, and I'm more confused, but then again, if there's one thing I've learned it's that 'Modern, Modernism and Modernity' aren't clear-cut, every-evolving concepts result in a perpetually confused Sora.

A new New Yorker? No, I think not, not yet...

[goodbye for now, not forever.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

dare I say, modern?

An opera, a play, and a hit TV (and now movie) series: What do Minnie, Cynthia and Carrie have in common?

101 years across four mediums - women and their issues of empowerment never seem to age.

The New York Idea is an engaging play, the context of the early 20th century maintained through the mise en scene, while excluding certain events and adapting the original script to place emphasis on different thematic concerns. One the most stark differences was the issue of the Cynthia/Jack marriage/divorce, this updated version doesn't let this issue pass so easily, Jack's newfound knowledge doesn't act as deus ex machina and Cynthia has to assert herself far more actively, by leaving her would-be second husband at the altar after delaying the ceremony because of her spontaneous jaunt off to the races with  Sir William Cates-Darby.

Vida was played with gleeful aplomb, opportunistic and liberated - divorce parties and cigars on church steps, lovers left, right, center - so Vida is Samantha, and Cynthia is Carrie.

In our current (dare I say, modern?) society/era/context, gender equality (as well as equality in general) stands as a hallmark of a developed, 'modern' country. These issues go through fads, it seems, the women's liberation movement, the flapper era, the cougars...

In another 100 years... yes, no, maybe so?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

ten days gone, 7 days to join the dots.

hello new york (city),
it's been 10 days now,

i've seen some of your best - (art,) the MoMA, Whitney
and the middling (of what used to be the above) - the subways
and the bad - the SLUDGE-Y cold.

i've seen American Idiot(s - JOKES), my first opera [La Fanciulla del West], and tomorrow, a play -
The New York Idea.

...and i haven't had that "a-HA/eureka/i got it!!" moment, not yet.

through study and sludge, music, bricks, and mortar, the old and the new, i've found the dots but have yet to connect them.
a recap:

 - as a broad movement in the arts, literature, music, architecture.
 - dependent on context, what's new is relative and depends on mastering what's old (see American [New York] Renaissance, New York Modern)

new york city 
 - the layers, architecturally a palimpsest.
 - money, money, money: driving cultural tolerance, automats...
 - an exemplification or apart from the u.s of a? [Thomas Bender - NY as un-american because of its emphasis on difference... Mariana van Rensselaer - NY's unique-ness lies in its "union of heterogenousness & individuality]
 - celebrated as a multiculturally diverse, cosmopolitan place... what do the cultural enclaves signify?
the people.

7 days to make the constellation to see,
my eureka moment...

too short?
so i could just come back again.
hello, new york (city).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

australia, home of the BARANGAROO

I grew up in the quiet suburb of Epping, that had a small supermarket, a newsagency, an RSL club, a church, an out-of-the-way train station... not much else.
I lived on 1/25 Ray Road, at Emmaus Bible College where my dad was a student - there was a little playground that all the units faced onto.
After school, I'd leave my uniform in a puddle on the floor, change into whatever was at hand and run out - spilling into the playground with all the other children there - other Korean kids, some Aussies, Armenians...
The sandbox was fun, but the creek was where I found the tadpoles and the frogs - trapped them in a jar, to watch them grow legs and sing.

They never did.

Fast-forward 10 years, the place has been razed, the creek's now a trickle, the frogs warble no more.

There's an apartment complex, smack bang over where we used to live.
5 stories high and sleek-shiny-new - not a small brick affair.
 - But the office-house was deemed historical, and left in peace.

There are dozens of shops now, another shopping-residential complex over what used to be an empty lot, the supermarket's expanded, the station upgraded - it's now a major(-ish) connection to the city.

Walk the streets, see the signage - the people, the people, the people.

Australia is growing, and so are its buildings - sometimes too fast (the Stepford-esque neighbourhoods, eerily quiet), often too slow - rent and congestion soar. It's these everyday problems I hear on the news, the constructions signs that mushroom on the streets that signal that the slow-moving haze I remember has gone. The sleek buildings keep rising, rising, rising.

And so the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge have competition, now - Sydney Harbour's first high rise building will join their ranks as an "iconic building" come 2014:

Sydney's busy, keeping up with "New York, Singapore and  London."

Frogs find new ponds, and a city is more than just people, just place -
memory animates, connects.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

painting past present

This is a painting, red and black.

For a person newly informed of art and artistic history, a visit to the MoMA's Abstract Impressionist New York exhibition is almost as surreal as some of the artworks themselves.
My approach to going 'round the gallery was similarly subjective and (logically) illogical - beeline to the painting that I deem that I 'like,' then butterfly my way around the rest of the paintings.
I'd look at the painting, then read the tag - "Oooh, I read about him/her/this/it!!" - As excited as my little siblings when they first learnt to read.

So I had to pick a painting to blog about - the red and black one at the top of this post.

Let me tell you a few facts -
  • The Japanese flag is a red circle on a white background, like so:

  • In 1945, the first atomic bomb (used in warfare) was dropped on a place called Hiroshima.
  • The title of the red and black painting is: Blast, I
It's not so easy to dismiss now, is it?

Painted 12 years after the actual Hiroshima bombing by Adolph Gottlieb, Blast, I, to me, raises the question - what is destruction to modernity? [and even vice versa]

It's the paradox of the old and the new, the past and the present that keeps jumping out at me.
The subways of Manhattan, Robert Moses restructuring, New York's pride in surpassing Europe by 'doing' Classical architecture bigger and better...

painting the past in the present that becomes the past.

Monday, January 10, 2011

makjang opera


Of strong voices that warble and Soras that nod -
So I'd expected.

No, this Sora sat through all 3 hours, 10 minutes, if not enthralled, absorbed - it was better than I thought it would be.

You didn't need 30(0) years of patience (years*COUGH* - I haven't felt so age-conscious in a while) to appreciate La Fanciulla del West - I'd already seen versions and versions of it since I was 8 -

On the TV screen, Korean melodramas of hidden birth secrets&/ identities, poor heroines (with more or less than a $30 education), lost loves, eternal loves, villains and picturesque scenery - tick tick, check check.
melodrama is makjang.  

Conventions - here, there, and everywhere.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hopper is Strauss.

kiss - the
lips, RED.
cheeks, ROUGED.
crazy clowns 
white skin
like (the girl)?

Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967). Soir Bleu (1914). Oil on canvas. 91.44 x 182.88 cm (36 x 72 in.). Whitney Museum of American Art. © Heirs of Josephine N. Hopper. Photograph by Geoffrey Clements.  

yellow, blue&blue-er... green and red and black and white and RED and round again...

i see a nightmare in a day-dream where the north is now north-west but it's north because nobody knows -

we're caught up - up, up and away and "the crowd roared its approval
 - that was the most shocking thing."

do you see?

red is red because there's a blue that's blue
so new is new
because of -

We stood in line to get our tickets to the Edward Hopper exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
I was one of many milling around the spaces and twisty corners of the exhibit.
I don't like clowns, coulrophobia, it's called - those bloody(-red) eyes and grinning lips.
I was tired, sleepy, swaying on my feet and then a woman turned around and grinned at me -
"It's so creative, isn't it? Absolute genius."
Black hair and pale wrinkled skin, red lips - the young lady in the green paint is an old woman in black fur -

and then i'm just one of a mass audience of another Salome, where Edward Hopper is Richard Strauss.

then and now:
modern mingling - genius and popularity.