September 30, 2009

Alyssa, Diego & Diego

Alyssa and Diego are painting photo-realistic-style. She lives in New York, he in Buenos Aires.

Fotos: Alyssa Monks

She is most of the times her own model while exploring the effects of water on the skin, and how it looks when pressed against glass. She is having an exhibition these days in NY, and is planning much more.

Diego is painting Panda, his Australian muse, and made the cover of Gustavo Cerati's last disc.

Fotos: Diego Gravinese

This is really, really good.

And there is also my friend Diego, who lives in MxDF, doing also great stuff, but in a different way.

Foto: Diego García MyT

September 29, 2009

McDonalization? Easy!

Foto: Banksy (

Yesterday I was driving my bike close to Hackescher Markt, and I saw in the building they have been working on for some time a new ad: EasyHotel. It is the new branch of the English airline EasyJet, which changed the way of traveling in the 90's and implemented the cheap flights in Europe. If there was in the 80's a rich JetSet flying on the Concorde to New York to have a dinner or attend some party, the 90's saw the massification of this party-tourism and created an EasyJetSet.

Now, the EasyHotel. You can choose a room with or without window. With or without TV. With or without bed, almost. This is how it looks like.

This is the massification of fat McDonald's-fans-tourists. It might even look worse than McDonalization.

Imagine your orange EasyHoliday-summer: book a flight with EasyJet in any EasyInternetCafé, where you should also update your iPod with some EasyMusic. After landing, take an EasyBus to check-in in an EasyHotel, and if you are too tired to go to an EasyCinema, then just ask for an EasyPizza and rent an EasyDVD just after taking an EasyBath. Don't worry too much about the time, since for sure your EasyWatch will be there. Next day you take an EasyCruise, or rent an EasyCar. EasyMoney credit cards accepted! Easy, no?

Never hated this orange and this stupid "easiness" so much before!

Nothing like Banksy's intervention to Claude Derain's "The Flight to Egypt" to understand the new orange massification. Voilá!

Foto: Banksy (

September 27, 2009

Oh fuck!

Some days ago, talking to FR, he asked me out of the blue:

- And do you read "The Economist"?
- No, I don't.

And as if I were a criminal:

- "Why not?"

If the first question surprised me, the second one left me completely helpless.

- Well, I guess I don't think it is particularly of my interest. I have check it a couple of times and...
- You should read it. It is a perfect and objective weekly radiography of the world.

The determination of his words and sight made me feel ashamed. So, the next Saturday I bought it, of course, to check it very carefully. Since I was in Zürich, I even paid 65% percent more of the price (10 Francs instead of 5.50 Euros). I liked the concise way of presenting the articles. At a first look, it indeed seemed to me to be objective, although later I found out that it is not. Of course. How stupid and naïve!

Anyways. Short after landing in Italy, I asked T about it. Of course she knew it and explained me very carefully why she doesn't like it. Fine.

On my way back I was too interested on Mark Twain's adventures, that I didn't dare to check "The Economist" further. And then I came to the office, and AD asked me:

- If you were German, whom would you vote this Sunday?

I didn't followed the duels and the campaigns, so I really lack of a mature opinion. Her question came to me as unexpected as FR's question the week before.

- Well, I haven't followed the whole thing, but I think I would vote for a coalition.

Of course, we, Mexicans, cannot accept that we are ignorant, but we always have a handy answer to offer. Yes, the day before I learned that Germans have two votes. That's why I answered that about the coalition, a possibility I hadn't thought about before.

- And which kind of coalition?

S got interested in the conversation, as she was about to vote as well. And then I remembered the "objective and fair radiography of the world", and spit out what the "The Economist" had suggested some days ago.

- I am not sure, but I guess that I would vote for Merkel and this guy, Westerwelle.

An immediately and loud complain threw me to the floor.

- That is terrible, he is soooooooo terrible. I could understand that you would vote Merkel, but Westerwelle! Impossible!
- Well, I don't know, really...

It was too late. I had already spoken.

I was really so apathetic towards this election, that I didn't even care about checking who the heck Westerwelle is. I just knew that Steinmeier is not my cup of tea.

Elections were held today, and either everybody here reads and follows "The Economist", or it was just the English way of showing how accurate they are in their predictions. The thing is that Merkel-Westerwelle won.

Then I checked who the heck this guy is, and started reflecting about the last 4 Merkel-years to falsify my own ("The Economist"'s) opinion. I still cannot answer AD's question about whom would I had vote if I were German, but at least I do know now that I wouldn't had given my vote to Westerwelle. I do not like at all the neoliberalism and open market politics he proposes, among other things. It seems that I didn't read carefully enough that line of the article: "the FDP is not only the most pro-business of the parties but also the most pro-American". Fair enough.

About Merkel: I have big concerns about her atomic energy interest and I do not agree with the war Germany has in Afghanistan, nor the kindness towards Russia.

It would had been much better to say "I have no clue" than to repeat like an idiot what I had read on a bloody English newspaper. Shame on me!

My second FAZ article

Some weeks ago I published my second article in the Sunday edition of FAZ. It is a piece about Spaniards in Berlin, but I didn't post it before. "Verliebt in Berlin" is available only in German.

Foto: Berlin Hauptbahnhof by Miles Storey

September 26, 2009

Yellow dresses

Yellow is not a very popular color for dresses, but there are a few exceptions worth to mention. There is a constant in paintings depicting women in yellow dresses: most of them are called "Yellow dress". That is a sign of this rarity.

Matisse has some yellow dresses, like these, for instance:

Egon Schiele painted also a yellow dress:

And Tamara de Lempicka:

And also Amadeo Modigliani:

And Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys portraited his sister Emma also in yellow:

Who looks a little bit similar to "La fileuse", by John William Waterhouse:

Among contemporary commercial artists yellow dresses have become a little bit more popular, like this girl by Diane Leonard and this annunciation by Caroline Jennings.

No more paintings, but still something visual: By the end of the XIX century, Sunday comic strips started to appear in the newspapers. One of the first of them was the Yellow Kid, which was wearing a yellow nightshirt. This guy is the origin of the expression "yellow journalism" (in Spanish "amarillismo").

This drives us to politics. Former President of Philippines, Corazón Aquino, was in love with all kind of yellow dresses. That is the reason why people brought so many yellow flowers to her funeral.

In special occasions, as when her husband came to the White House, Michelle Obama has wore also yellow dresses:

Maybe that is the reason why there is a Parisian Obama-yellow-dress:

Pop stars live in Washington DC and Hollywood. That brings us to a movie-poster...

...where Kate Hudson looks terrible (even worse than Tamara de Lempicka's self-portrait) because she is blond. Yellow dresses shine and make the woman shine even more, as Emma and "La fileuse" had thought us already, when she is pretty and brunette. Take for instance Mélissa Theuriau...

...or, even better, Hilary Rhoda:

God is a DJ

There is a single movie which I watched again as soon as the credits came... There is a single city which I have been thinking obsessively about coming back again as soon as possible even before leaving: Tel Aviv.

I had never seen such a good vibe, nice people, great weather, surprising architecture (the Azrieli Center is my favorite building), amazing food (best sushi ever, for instance, a delicious frozen yoghurt with fruits), good design all over the city, people playing matkot in the beach, and in the slums an interesting organizing concept for commerce. A perfect city to live in! (Maybe the prices are just a little bit too high.)

When you ask the people about God, they usually say: "God is a DJ". Maybe that is the reason why Tel Aviv really rocks!

September 25, 2009

Sculpture trees

Ran Morin's trees in kibbutz Ramat Rachel, outside of Jerusalem.

Axel Schultes' trees in Berlin's Kanzleramt.

White: Greenland, Via Crucis

Death has one color: white. I learned that the hard way before reading Moby-Dick. That's why Barnett Newman chose the white to compose his Stations of the Cross, not only because the Via Dolorosa, and the whole old city of Jerusalem is built with white stones. That's why the white ice wounded millions of years ago the shore to produce fjords, which have been since then rather covered by snow and clouds.

Greenland's eastern coastline wounded by innumerable fjords.

Barnett Newman's "First Station" of his Via Crucis (1958).

Herman Melville on whiteness of the coast and the snow:

"I know that, to the common apprehension, this phenomenon of whiteness is not confessed to be the prime agent in exaggerating the terror of objects otherwise terrible; nor to the unimaginative mind is there aught of terror in those appearances whose awfulness to another mind almost solely consists in this one phenomenon, especially when exhibited under any form at all approaching to muteness or universality. What I mean by these two statements may perhaps be respectively elucidated by the following examples.

First: The mariner, when drawing nigh the coasts of foreign lands, if by night he hear the roar of breakers, starts to vigilance, and feels just enough of trepidation to sharpen all his faculties; but under precisely similar circumstances, let him be called from his hammock to view his ship sailing through a midnight sea of milky whiteness - as if from encircling headlands shoals of combed white bears were swimming round him, then he feels a silent, superstitious dread; the shrouded phantom of the whitened waters is horrible to him as a real ghost; in vain the lead assures him he is still off soundings; heart and helm they both go down; he never rests till blue water is under him again. Yet where is the mariner who will tell thee, "Sir, it was not so much the fear of striking hidden rocks, as the fear of that hideous whiteness that so stirred me?"

Second: To the native Indian of Peru, the continual sight of the snow-howdahed Andes conveys naught of dread, except, perhaps, in the mere fancying of the eternal frosted desolateness reigning at such vast altitudes, and the natural conceit of what a fearfulness it would be to lose oneself in such inhuman solitudes. Much the same is it with the backwoodsman of the West, who with comparative indifference views an unbounded prairie sheeted with driven snow, no shadow of tree or twig to break the fixed trance of whiteness. Not so the sailor, beholding the scenery of the Antarctic seas; where at times, by some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers of frost and air, he, shivering and half shipwrecked, instead of rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, views what seems a boundless church-yard grinning upon him with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses."

September 24, 2009

Otra nota sobre Thomas Demand

Después de haber asistido a la vernissage de "Nationalgalerie" y de haberme informado mejor sobre Thomas Demand y su obra, he aquí un texto en otro blog algunas reflexiones a propósito de la exposición.

September 23, 2009

On theft: St. Augustine, Twain

Saint Augustine stole once some pears when he was 16 years old, and wrote memorable pages about it in his Confessions. And Mark Twain, while trolling in Greece being 30 years old, stole some grapes. Here are both stories, the pears' being rather a remorse, and the grapes' being rather funny.


"What then did wretched I so love in thee, thou theft of mine, thou deed of darkness, in that sixteenth year of my age? Lovely thou wert not, because thou wert theft. But art thou any thing, that thus I speak to thee? Fair were the pears we stole, because they were Thy creation, Thou fairest of all, Creator of all, Thou good God: God, the sovereign good and my true good. Fair were those pears, but not them did my wretched soul desire; for I had store of better, and those I gathered, only that I might steal. For, when gathered, I flung them away, my only feast therein being my own sin, which I was pleased to enjoy. For if aught of those pears came within my mouth, what sweetened it was the sin. And now, O Lord my God, I enquire what in that theft delighted me; and behold it hath no loveliness; I mean not such loveliness as in justice and wisdom; nor such as is in the mind and memory, and senses, and animal life of man; nor yet as the stars are glorious and beautiful in their orbs; or the earth, or sea, full of embryo-life, replacing by its birth that which decayeth; nay, nor even that false and shadowy beauty which belongeth to deceiving vices.


For had I then loved the pears I stole, and wished to enjoy them, I might have done it alone, had the bare commission of the theft sufficed to attain my pleasure; nor needed I have inflamed the itching of my desires by the excitement of accomplices. But since my pleasure was not in those pears, it was in the offence itself, which the company of fellow-sinners occasioned".

Image: Augustinus und der Teufel, panel of Michael Pacher's Kirchenväteraltar, ca. 1483, Alte Pinakothek, Munich.


"As we marched along, we began to get over our fears, and ceased to care much about quarantine scouts or any body else. We grew bold and reckless; and once, in a sudden burst of courage, I even threw a stone at a dog. It was a pleasant reflection, though, that I did not hit him, because his master might just possibly have been a policeman. Inspired by this happy failure, my valor became utterly uncontrollable, and at intervals I absolutely whistled, though on a moderate key. But boldness breeds boldness, and shortly I plunged into a Vineyard, in the full light of the moon, and captured a gallon of superb grapes, not even minding the presence of a peasant who rode by on a mule. Denny and Birch followed my example.

Now I had grapes enough for a dozen, but then Jackson was all swollen up with courage, too, and he was obliged to enter a vineyard presently. The first bunch he seized brought trouble. A frowsy, bearded brigand sprang into the road with a shout, and flourished a musket in the light of the moon! We sidled toward the Piraeus--not running you understand, but only advancing with celerity. The brigand shouted again, but still we advanced. It was getting late, and we had no time to fool away on every ass that wanted to drivel Greek platitudes to us. We would just as soon have talked with him as not if we had not been in a hurry. Presently Denny said, "Those fellows are following us!"

We turned, and, sure enough, there they were--three fantastic pirates armed with guns. We slackened our pace to let them come up, and in the meantime I got out my cargo of grapes and dropped them firmly but reluctantly into the shadows by the wayside. But I was not afraid. I only felt that it was not right to steal grapes. And all the more so when the owner was around--and not only around, but with his friends around also. The villains came up and searched a bundle Dr. Birch had in his hand, and scowled upon him when they found it had nothing in it but some holy rocks from Mars Hill, and these were not contraband. They evidently suspected him of playing some wretched fraud upon them, and seemed half inclined to scalp the party. But finally they dismissed us with a warning, couched in excellent Greek, I suppose, and dropped tranquilly in our wake. When they had gone three hundred yards they stopped, and we went on rejoiced. But behold, another armed rascal came out of the shadows and took their place, and followed us two hundred yards. Then he delivered us over to another miscreant, who emerged from some mysterious place, and he in turn to another! For a mile and a half our rear was guarded all the while by armed men. I never traveled in so much state before in all my life.

It was a good while after that before we ventured to steal any more grapes, and when we did we stirred up another troublesome brigand, and then we ceased all further speculation in that line. I suppose that fellow that rode by on the mule posted all the sentinels, from Athens to the Piraeus, about us.

Every field on that long route was watched by an armed sentinel, some of whom had fallen asleep, no doubt, but were on hand, nevertheless. This shows what sort of a country modern Attica is--a community of questionable characters. These men were not there to guard their possessions against strangers, but against each other; for strangers seldom visit Athens and the Piraeus, and when they do, they go in daylight, and can buy all the grapes they want for a trifle. The modern inhabitants are confiscators and falsifiers of high repute, if gossip speaks truly concerning them, and I freely believe it does".

"Gesicht zur Wand"

Some years ago I went to Hohenschönhausen, the former prison of the Stasi, in East Berlin. It has been one of the saddest places I have seen. A old man, who had been imprisoned there, guided us through the complex. The most impressive thing for me was to see the scientifical and technical efforts to torture people whose crime had been to disagree with the regime. Leaving in that prison called DDR was a nightmare just better if compared to the lives of the prisoners. I won't enlist now the infinite abuses and assaults committed.

Last night the new documentary film "Gesicht zur Wand" was projected in Florence. It is an independent film which presents the stories of five people who were caught prisoners while being young, just for the sake of "protecting the State". They just wanted to go out. The film is very touching and hard, an incredible document of recent history. One question remains open: How is it possible that all the perpetrators of such injustice have been free (and even having a pension paid by the State), while more than 72,000 ex prisoners still suffer the consequences of rape, torture and abuse?

Germany suffered a lot the last century. When I think of that, I am more than grateful of being Mexican, a country with problems which are not to be compared to Nazism or Communism. And at the same time, the more I learn about Germany, the more I admire these people here, beyond stupidity and absurd naiveness. And never before seemed to me the popular Ostalgie as dangerous and superficial. And I wonder how many cruel stories are happening this very moment in China, North Korea, Cuba, and many other "hidden" places we don't care (enough) about...

If you liked "Das Leben der Anderen", "Gesicht zur Wand" is a must.

September 21, 2009

"In Berlin"

Michael Ballhaus, very well-known for being Scorsese's cameraman, made a docu film about Germany's capital, called "In Berlin". I hadn't heard about it, but they have in Florence this days a film festival focused partly on Berlin. So we went there.

The documentary has a beautiful photography and follows the daily lives of some Berliners, from Steinmeier, who is about to loose the elections next weekend, to a girl with Down syndrome who is an actress in a theater for disabled persons. The music and the edition are also fantastic. If you want to know Berlin better, then this is a must.

September 18, 2009

Schopenhauer dixit

Foto: Mark Segal

"Unser Ziel ist es nicht, zu sehen, was bisher keiner sah, sondern über das, was alle sehen, zu denken, was keiner je dachte".

September 17, 2009

Romero, Mies, Demand

Fernando Romero is in Berlin, and we had lunch together today. He was talking about Thomas Demand, an artist I didn't know, because this afternoon was the vernissage of his new exhibition in the Neue Nationalgalerie of Mies.

Since I practically lived in Berlin's Brain on a daily basis for a couple of years, I showed him the building. That was the first time I visited the library with an architect, and his sight was, of course, very different from mine. Not only the sight, but also the experience: architects are much more interested in materials than us, non-architects, so they are touching everything. There are for instance those short walls, which I never took seriously, and if you had asked me, I would had said they were made of some synthetic plastic or so. But no! They are pure steel.

The next idea was to see the new museum by David Chipperfield, but the taxi driver blew it up. And then, well, in the evening, I went to Demand's exhibition. I had no idea, but it is ok. He is making little models based on old pictures he has found on newspapers. The models are made of paper, mostly. But in a perfect way. Without people, without brand names, without letters. Emptiness. Just the objects and the colors. Then he makes a picture of them, prints it out in real format, so the result is that you see a bathtub in which you would like to have a bath, but there is something strange about it. Demand is a very cultivated artist, so every single picture has a solid intellectual background, going from photophobia to the concept of memory according to Proust or Beckett.

This was an architectural day, in all senses, from big, great buildings like Foster's or Mies' to small models by Demand, whose exhibition, by the way, paradoxically blocks the emptiness of the building, he, the artist who is so concerned about emptiness. Strange.

Corrigenda: I have been reading about this exhibition, and it seems that the idea of hanging those curtains in the Neue Nationalgaleria was, actually, Mies' own proposal.

Salt Sea

Arab people call it "Dead Sea", but the original name is "Salt Sea" (FB group). It is an amazing experience going there. I had been looking forward to swim there since I was a little kid, because my grandparents told me about it, and I had been very curious for more than 20 years. I finally went there, and swam there. More than swimming, I just floated.

You have to be very careful about the water coming into your eyes or mouth or nose. Just a few drops of water reached my lips, and that was enough to be very thirsty the whole night. I touched my eyes with dried hands after swimming, and that was enough to wake up next morning with an itchy pain in them.

Other tourists were doing the typical photo of reading a newspaper while floating, but I was too happy to be there, that I just wanted to enjoy the experience without being distracted by a camera. There is no sand or soil or whatsoever, but just salt. Freakies put mud on their bodies to get good vibes.

I spent the whole night at the beach, perfect windy weather (refreshing wind in the middle of the desert), slept in my sleeping bag, and woke up on time: it was already clear, but there was still no sun in the sky. In front of me, the mountains of Jordania. Very slowly they became on fire, till the sun was there. One more sunny day in this desert, the lowest point on Earth.

Now I am really curious about going to Lac Assal, in Djibouti, the lake with the highest salinity: up to 50% (Salt Sea's is "just" 33%). One sunny day!

September 16, 2009

To be(sit) or not to be(sit)

The new way to attract tourists to visit Hamlet's territories is August. Voilà!

To visit or not to visit Denmark. That is the question.

Fast Flip

The new lab of Google looks very promising and practical. Fast Flip is the new way to check newspapers and magazines. Really great.

September 15, 2009

My (fake) still lifes

The most boring and uninteresting paintings are still lifes. No doubt about it. The first one I saw in my life hanged, and still hangs, at my grandparents' place, in the dinning room. I couldn't understand it, so meaningless and without life. Whenever I bump into one in a museum or a book, I rather look away. At least I was doing that most of the times, till the moment when I saw some years ago Van Gogh's "Still life with absinthe" (1887). This was the first still life I had seen with movement and life: people walking in the street. That seemed to me a fake still life, it looks more like a picture of a bar: somebody was drinking, a girl or a friend or an acquaintance entered, and the guy stood up to have a small talk. Or maybe there was a fight and a duel, and the absinthe was left behind. Or perhaps that is the fourth bottle and he went to the toilette, or is lying on the floor. Who knows. The crucial fact for me is the life.

So I started doing my own "fake still lifes" à la Van Gogh, where people interact with still-life-people, say an advertisement, a picture, a painting, a grafitti, a doll... These are some of my Israel "fake still lifes" from last week. The first one was taken in Jerusalem's market, and the rest in the non-turistic slums of Tel Aviv.