Friday, May 14, 2010

More on the Centre Pompidou - Metz

The crowds continue to build for the new Centre Pompidou - Metz. The local paper report two-hour waits for Wednesday, and the word on the street has it that the waits are up to three hours. Susie saw the lines around 11:15 a.m. this morning, and they were longer than Wednesday's lines.

Although the streets were eerily deserted yesterday--Ascension is a national holiday--they teemed today, with many people who looked and sounded like visitors. At lunch, the women sitting next to us had just arrived in Metz, and hadn't even made it yet to their hotel. Taking the renamed "Artis" minibus, we ended up riding for free because the driver had run out tickets.

A few more things about the exhibition itself stand out as worth discussing. As I mentioned Wednesday, the exhibition includes works of various kinds, including traditional paintings, sculptures, videos, audios, and installations. All of the works were identified by a nearby card, about 5x6 inches, attached to the wall. I looked at one card, which didn't seem to be associated with any particular painting or sculpture, entitled "1234." As it turned out, 1234 is an audio work, eight seconds long, that is played throughout the museum at 12:34 p.m. each day. We were still waiting in line when (and if) it played, so we'll have to come back some other time for it.

There's an enormous installation by a French artist called Ben, entitled something like "Ben's Store." It's a kind of building containing and decorated with things that had to have been retrieved from garage and attic sales across France--parts of dolls, buckets, you name it. I went by this work rather quickly, having realized that it would take me most of a day to perceive and understand everything there.

There's a conceptual piece called "Three Chairs" that consists of an actual chair, a life-sized picture of the chair, and a definition of the word chair. Having just taught a semester's worth of Natural Language Processing, where we worked a lot on representing semantics, this work appealed to me a lot.

To me, aside from the great works themselves, the best part of the exhibition was the floor with the works in one long gallery and the history of each work in a parallel gallery, with space to look from one gallery to the other. The history sometimes featured written or graphical materials and sometimes videos.

Maybe by the time we get back to Metz before heading home to El Paso we'll have time to explore the Centre Pompidou - Metz with greater depth.

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