September 4th, 2006

little review

Poem for Monday

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That poem is here because we visited the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to see the Anselm Kiefer exhibit, which was as phenomenal as I had expected. There's a lot of contemporary art that sets off my bullshit meter no longer how long I look at it, study it or read about it, and there's quite a bit of that in the Hirshhorn (the oeuvre of Mark Rothko earns a special award in this category). Yet Kiefer's work is extraordinary, the kind of paintings and sculpture I feel like I could study for a year and only begin to get at everything that's going on in them. I wish I could remember when I first heard of him -- it was while he was working on mythologies of Germany, dead gods and conflagrations; he was born at the end of World War II and for a long time his work centered on Nazism, the Holocaust and how the culture of Germany which produced him also produced that. Celan's "Death Fugue" was cited by Kiefer as a source of inspiration. His more recent work is engaged with the Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism as well as mythology from all over the world, but it's still often very bleak -- ashes, ruined manuscripts, the distance between earth and heaven. His canvases are enormous, museum wall-sized, and if you look him up online it's really impossible to get a sense of the immensity and texture. This exhibit only runs through next weekend so we knew we had to get there this weekend, and anyone else in DC who's at all interested in this sort of thing, I highly recommend it.

Yeah, obviously Sunday we made it downtown, determined to see everything in the National Museum of American History that we didn't get to last weekend before it all disappears for two years on Tuesday. But before we went there, we visited National Geographic Explorers Hall, which has a fabulous exhibit on castles of the Crusades, including a massive miniature replica of Crac des Chevaliers in modern Syria, which is absolutely amazing in its detail; there are also poster exhibits on dozens of other castles and the history of architecture by the Muslims and Christians who alternately held the territories. Since we were at the museum, we also walked through the delightful Soccer: Planet at Play exhibit, which had photos of everything from teenagers playing in a field near Cairo with the Pyramids in the background to a nearly empty stadium in Kiev with people playing in twenty below temperatures to David Beckham teaching kids to police protecting players from rival fans.

American History was understandably mobbed even though we avoided the big exhibits we saw last weekend, and I must say that it is rather depressing to find that one's first computer is in a gallery whose theme is, "Hahaha, look how far we've come with PCs since these dinosaurs!" We went to see the Star Spangled Banner, which will be the centerpiece of the restructured museum, and we went through the Edison and Technology exhibit, the 20th Century Innovations exhibit, the America on the Move Exhibit (last time we'd just gone through the seafaring area) and what's left of the First Ladies' Dresses -- Jacqueline Kennedy through Hillary Clinton. The museum is rather convoluted, and I'm not sorry it will be restructured, though I am sorry it will be closed for so long for the renovations! When we came home we watched the second half of Sharpe's Challenge; younger son declared when it was over that he didn't like it as much as Sharpe's Waterloo, and even though I think that one has flaws compared to earlier installments, I had to agree. Collapse )


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Have a wonderful Labor Day, everyone who has it off, and everyone else, have a wonderful Monday...we are hoping to go to the zoo to see the baby kiwi and tiger cubs!
little review

RIP Steve Irwin

Shit. We are headed to the zoo this morning for the Meet a Kiwi program -- my kids are so upset! I guess he died the way he would have wanted to, though certainly not when he wanted to ("You’re far safer dealing with crocodiles and western diamondback rattlesnakes than the executives and the producers and all those sharks in the big MGM building."). I feel awful for his wife and children.