World's Fair Symbol Structures

The fact that Seattle's Space Needle had reached its half-century mark prompted me to write this post. It also got me to thinking about world's fairs and structures that came to symbolize them, intentionally or not.

If you are interested in delving into those expositions, Wikipedia kindly provides two useful listings. Here is a list of fairs that includes important structures and other relevant items associated with them. And here is a list of BIE sanctioned expositions, the BIE being an international fair-sanctioning organization founded in the 1920s. Not all major fairs since them have had BIE approval, the most important instance being the New York World's Fair of 1964-65.

The idea of a structure intended to symbolize a fair is a fairly recent development, as these things go. First, consider first great fair in London in 1851. Joseph Paxton designed an iron and glass structure called the Crystal Palace that served as the fair's symbol by default: it was the fair's only structure.

For a while other fairs followed suit, but eventually became collections of pavilions, each focusing on a different country, industry or other theme. Architecturally, there might be a focus building such as the 1893 Chicago fair's Administration Building with its large dome situated at one end of a rectangular reflecting pool. Although that building was prominent, I'm not sure how symbolic it was given that the fair's overall appearance was a kind of mega-symbol.

Explicit symbol structures didn't come into play at top-level fairs until the end of the 1930s. Since then, other fairs have used them (or not) to varying degree of success. Let's take a look at the famous ones, plus a wannabe:


Eiffel Tower (1889) in 1937
The Eiffel tower was erected for a 1889 exposition to mixed reviews. But it proved so popular that it now is the symbol for Paris itself. The photo above was taken at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne of 1937, best known to art junkies as the place Picasso's Guernica was first displayed. The Eiffel Tower probably wasn't the symbol of this fair: it just happened to be on the Champ-de-Mars, the largest chunk of unobstructed Paris land available for such events. Otherwise, the two dominant structures besides the tower are seen framing it in the photo. At the left is National Socialist Germany's pavilion and to the right is the pavilion of the Soviet Union, ideological antagonists until the countries signed a pact two years later that signaled the start of World War 2.

Palace of the Fine Arts - San Francisco, 1915
I'm not up to speed on the Panama Pacific International Exposition, so I'm not sure if the Palace of the Fine Arts was considered the fair's symbol at the time. But it soon came to be so loved by the public that it avoided destruction once the fair ended. It still stands today, having gone through at least one major restoration.

Trylon and Perisphere - New York, 1939
Now we come to structures intended to be symbolic from the outset. The Trylon, a three-side pyramid, stood 610 feet (190 meters) tall and had no function other than being somehow symbolic of the future. Its mate, the Perisphere, contained an exhibit.

Tower of the Sun - San Francisco Bay, 1939
The Golden Gate International Exposition was held on an island dredged from the bottom of San Francisco Bay that was intended to be used as an airport after the fair closed. The 400-foot tower was the fair's symbol. It seems that all such symbol-structures attract both fans and detractors. This book offers the following observation (p. 82): "As for the Tower of the Sun, the 400-foot campanile sticking up from the low horizon, hardly anyone could tolerate it." The anyones quoted included columnist Herb Caen and sculptors Beniamino Buffano and Ralph Stackpole. Contrarian me? I think it was just swell.

Unisphere - New York, 1964
Sitting where the Trylon and Perisphere once stood, the Unisphere arrived to symbolize New York's fair of the mid-1960s. I've always thought that the Unisphere was a triumph of cliché and imagination-failure. Regrettably, it still stands.

Atomium - Brussels, 1958
The Exposition Universelle et venti Internationale de Bruxelles had the Atomium as its symbolic centerpiece. It is supposed to represent a scaled-up atom, and people can actually climb through the thing. It, too, is still with us for some inexplicable reason. (Unlike the Unisphere's failing, I find the Atomium simply silly.)

Space Needle - Seattle, 1962
I end this rogue's gallery with the beloved Space Needle from Seattle's Century 21 fair. It can seem a little awkward if you view it from the wrong angle, but it's distinctive in a graceful way. Or, to put it another way, it coulda been a lot, lot worse.

Wake Up Today and Say

Leymah Gbowee,

Nobel Peace Prize Winner 2011

Who do you admire today? Is there anyone alive today whom you look to as a hero? Many young people struggle with this question. I have listed just a few living heroes on my Encounters page because we need to be inspired and be educated that such folks exist. I would like to point out one woman who has been particularly influential to me during these last 8 months when I have found myself in the darkest trial of my life.

Her name is Leymah Gbowee.  She is a Liberian Christian woman who sparked a women's peace movement during that country's civil war, and succeeded in ending it.  Pray the Devil Back to Hell tells this true story; and I have watched it repeatedly with others going through similar circumstances as mine. I hope you, like me, are tired of the Devil getting his way in our families, tired enough to watch this movie and be changed!

Ms. Gbowee said in 2009, "I didn't get there by myself...but it was by the grace and mercy of God...In the most difficult of times, God has been there. They have this song, "Order my steps in Your ways, dear Lord", and every day as I wake up, that is my prayer, because there's no can take this an agent of change in your community, without having a sense of faith...all that I am, all that I hope to be, is because of God."

Grant for New Performance Programme (India Foundation for the Arts)

India Foundation for the Arts
New Performance Programme
IFA’s New Performance programme supports reflective performance practices that extend beyond prevailing idioms and forms of performance and/or create new modes of presentation. Performing arts groups and individuals working in or across music, dance, theatre and puppetry can apply keeping the broad thrust areas in mind. The programme is also open to light or set designers, puppeteers, sound artists and writers working in the area of performance.
Pre-production: This programme supports performing artists to germinate and nurture fresh ideas and reflect on the immediate context of their practice. This may include researching towards a performance script and/or collaborative or improvisatory work towards creating a text or other resources and references for the proposed performance.
Performance: Risk-taking and experimental performances that tackle unexplored themes or critically engages with changing contexts of performance will be supported. These productions could introduce fresh content, investigate unexplored but meaningful themes, or straddle different genres in the performing arts. These are only examples, however, and do not exhaust the possibilities offered by this programme.
Dissemination: IFA grantees can apply for follow-up grants that will enable a wider public to critically engage with their IFA-supported work and the larger issues it throws up. This may include disseminating knowledge acquired and expertise gained with the grant in imaginative and innovative ways.
Residencies/Workshops: Performance residencies and workshops are ideal environments for questioning and reflecting on contemporary performance practices. Innovatively modeled artist residencies and workshops that nurture emerging performing artists, encourage collaboration, and support dialogue with a wider field of practice may be considered under the programme. Workshops that focus on imparting new idioms and facilitating experimentation may be considered under the programme. We are particularly interested in supporting residencies and workshops hosted by emerging organisations in the early stages of institutional building.
Public  Platforms: Public platforms like conferences and seminars that bring together diverse stakeholders in the field of performance to discuss newly emerging and unconventional practices may be considered under the programme. Also, we encourage performing communities to engage in initiatives towards building a network of mutually supportive practitioners in the field. Initiatives that look to encourage dialogue and collaboration between performing artists working in different languages and regions may be considered under the programme. These are only examples, however, and do not exhaust the possibilities offered under this category.
You are welcome to discuss your ideas and develop your proposal through dialogue and interaction with IFA staff. To apply, please send us a short note describing 1) your existing practice and your concerns and interests as a practioner and, 2) the nature of work for which you are seeking funding and how it addresses the programme.
A budget should not exceed Rs 1,50,000 for pre-production work, Rs 3,00,000 for developing a production, and Rs 6,00,000 for a residency. The budget for seminars, conferences, network development and workshops may be developed in consultation with programme staff.
Applications under this programme can be submitted for consideration at any time. You may write your proposal in any Indian language. Please ensure that we receive a draft proposal three months prior to your need for funds to support the project. You may email your queries on any matter pertaining to this programme to  or write to:
Sumana Chandrashekar, Programme Executive - New Performance, India Foundation for the Arts, 'Apurva', Ground Floor, No 259, 4th Cross, Raj Mahal Vilas 2nd Stage, 2nd Block, Bangalore-560 094. Phone: 080-2341 4681 / 82
You can expect to receive a reply from us within ten days, indicating whether your proposal is being considered for support.
You are eligible to apply if you are an Indian national, a registered non-profit Indian organisation, or have been resident in India for at least five years. Your collaborators, if any, should also fall into one of the above categories.
Translations of this circular are available in other Indian languages on request and can also be downloaded from

Molti Ritratti: Ida Rubinstein

Ida Rubenstein (1885-1960) was a Russian ballerina whose distinctive appearance appealed to painters even at a time when she could easily be photographed. Her Wikipedia entry is here, and it states that because her formal ballet training was limited, she was never first-rate in her field; she compensated by virtue of her stage presence.

Let's take a look.


Ida Rubinsteitn as Phaedra - 1923
Here is a photograph taken a few years after the paintings below were completed.

By Leo Bakst (Ida as Cleopatra) - 1909
Bakst was the ace costume designer for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

By Leon Bakst - c.1910
Here is another Bakst take on Rubinstein, a portrait rather than illustrating a costume concept.

By Valentin Serov - 1910
Serov was a master of Russian portraiture. Most of his works were naturalist, but this Rubinstein shows him drifting into modernism shortly before his death.

By Antonio de la Gándara - 1913
Gándara was a fashionable artist based in Paris, so this portrait was probably painted while the troupe was there on tour.

By Romaine Brooks - 1917
Brooks had a three-year affair with Rubinstein, and this is one of the paintings from that time.

Superficial Loss

Stripped Down by Kirsten Borror

2012 Acrylic on Ragboard 5x5

On Saturday I wept in the arms of a woman from another country who

had been 6+ years imprisoned and tortured for her faith in Jesus.

She explained how she came to believe that Christ offered the best life she could have. She told us about being tested by this persecution, and that her suffering brought her to a pearl of great price. The pearl is to know God deeply. She explained that she is as weak as any of us; this was a surprising revelation!

God showed up for her, showed her His strength, and He was strong for her. We all had been wondering how she could withstand such pains, and we were moved by her devotion.

When I told a friend about my encounter with this amazing Christian, she said, "We are so fortunate that none of us will have to risk what others risk and pay the price they pay for Jesus."

It was right then that the truth came over me...I don't believe we are fortunate at all! It is the loss of all this that we think is "life" that we would actually COME ALIVE!

The persecuted Christians around the globe get up and say, "Is it worth getting up today? Yes, Jesus is worth it."

THE ŠKODA PRIZE announces ‘Call for Entry’ for its 3rd edition

  THE ŠKODA PRIZE announces ‘Call for Entry’ for its 3rd edition

ü    Applications to the prestigious ŠKODA Prize for Indian Contemporary art will be open from June 30, 2012.

Bangalore – June 22, 2012Launched in 2009, by ŠKODA Auto India and Seventy EMG, The ŠKODA Prize is recognized as one of the most of influential platforms for Indian contemporary art. Call for entry begins on June 30th, applications are available and will be accepted until 31st August 2012.
The prize brings together a diverse pool of nominees from across India and includes internationally recognized artists as well as newer talents. Nominees need to be below the age of 45, and should have had a solo show in the country over the last 12 months; they will have demonstrated sustained vision, innovation, and a mature understanding of material and form through their careers.    

The winner takes away the prestigious ‘The ŠKODA Prize Winner’ title and also receives a prize money of INR 10,00,000. Runners-up are invited to participate in international residencies supported by Prohelvetia, the Swiss Arts Council. Visited by thousands every year, The ŠKODA Prize Top 20 exhibition (which takes place alongside the India Art Fair in New Delhi) showcases country's most promising contemporary artists.

Juried by a panel of notable personalities and supported by museums and cultural institutions of international repute, The ŠKODA Prize presents a unique vantage point to engage with some of the most exciting developments in Indian contemporary art today. The jury members of The ŠKODA Prize in the past have included collector Mrs. Kiran Nadar, Mrs. Tasneem Mehta, (Managing Trustee and Honorary Director, Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum), artist Vivan Sundaram, Pooja Sood, (Director of Khoj), Heike Munder (Director of the Migros Museum für gegenwartskunst, Zürich) who was also on the jury for this year's Turner Prize, while renowned artists Marc Quinn, and Turner Prize winner Anish Kapoor have presented awards to past winners Mithu Sen (2010) and Navin Thomas (2011).

In 2011, The SKODA Prize platform was extended to create a prize for artists at the beginning of their careers with The Breakthrough Artist Award – which recognizes younger artists under the age of 35 - based on their debut solo exhibitions in India. The Breakthrough Artist Award is supported by highly regarded publication Art India (over a decade old magazine). Through its association with ART India, The SKODA Prize also supports the development on critical dialogue, and writing about Indian contemporary art. Mr. Girish Shahane, Art Critic, Curator and Director, Art for The SKODA Prize for Indian Contemporary Art, said “We aim to build on the reputation the award has established as a benchmark of artistic quality, while also attracting more new voices through the Breakthrough Artist Award”.

The last date for applying for the Breakthrough Artist Award is 30 October 2012, please send in your entries to

Art India Publishing Co Pvt Ltd, c/o JSW Steel Ltd, Victoria Mills Compound, P.B.Marg, Lower Parel, Mumbai-400013.
Tel: 022-24917961

About The ŠKODA Prize
The ŠKODA Prize is most prestigious award on the Indian visual arts scene. It recognises cutting-edge work demonstrating vision, innovation, and a mature understanding of material and form. The Prize brings to public notice exciting trends in contemporary art, highlighting the output of established mid-career artists as well as new voices. It is backed by jurors of impeccable credentials, renowned patron institutions, a dedicated group of advisors, and a management team of proven capability. The ŠKODA Prize is a Seventy EMG Arts Initiative.

The Art Dictator's Art

Aleksander Gerasimov (1881-1963) was an important Socialist Realist painter. As his Wikipedia entry states, "His heavy-handed leadership of the Union of Artists of the USSR and the Soviet Academy of Arts were [sic] notorious..."

More details on his career can be found here.

I am no fan of centralized authority in any form, so I offer the following Gerasimov paintings, technically well-done though some of them might be, as examples of what gets produced under authoritarian circumstances.


Lenin on the Tribune - 1930

Stalin at the 18th Party Congress

I.V. Stalin and K.E.Voroshilov in the Kremlin After the Rain - 1938
This painting won Gerasimov an important prize, though it's hard to understand why. Maybe Stalin liked the way his likeness was painted.

Portrait of the Ballet Dancer Olga Lepeshinskaya - 1939
A welcome break from Socialist Realism.

The Meeting of F.D. Roosevelt and the Shaw of Iran - 1944
This would be related to the Teheran Conference of 1943. So the subject is political, but in no way glorifies the Soviet regime.

Peonies - 1952
In his spare time, Gerasimov set politics and Socialist Realism aside to do a little Post-Impessionism for his own purposes.

LeRoy Neiman: Post-Career Thoughts

LeRoy Neiman died 20 June 2012. I really haven't thought of him in years except when I happen to notice one of his prints for sale in an art gallery. I suppose I would have been more aware if I'd kept up with Playboy magazine where his work appeared for literally decades. Alas for Playboy, I lost interest at some point in my twenties when it finally sank in that a girl in person is far better than a retouched photo of one in a centerfold.

The Wikipedia entry for Neiman is here and his own web page is here.

As Wikipedia indicates, Neiman had solid art training and the work he produced following his Playboy breakthrough had many fans. His original works and reproduction sell well and at good prices. Fortunate is the artist who can earn a good living from his toil.

A large share of Neiman's work had to do with sports, so I'll show a few examples here.


Sandy Koufax

Orlando Magic


What do I think of his work? I never liked it.

My reaction to any art is personal to the point where I can't pin down from where my prejudices emerged. For what it's worth, in a nutshell, I find Neiman's work too colorful and the application of paint too random (or sloppy?) for my taste.

This is despite underlying drawing being essentially correct. I've stated before and will surely state again that, given good drawing, an artist can get away with quite a lot so far as other aspects of a painting or illustrations are concerned. But for me, Neiman pushed those "other aspects" too far.

De un pueblo para los pueblos.

Por una nueva iniciativa de Diego Gareca, del área de DDHH de Godoy Cruz- Mendoza, la Secretaria de Gobierno del municipio y Juan Bonello (representante de Escorihuela) he realizado una pintura mural en equipo con los maestros Victor"quierovalecuatro" Gallardo, Walter "Prince"Lucero, Nicolás "Guercho" Guercio, Guido "anchodecopa" García Zalazar, integrantes del Grupo Mendoza, Mariana Utrero y Lautaro "sietefalso" Carpita como ayudantes.
El mural se realizó en una medianera de la Bodega Escorihuela y entre una de sus finalidades está la de brindar un homenaje a la labor productiva y los festejos de los pueblos latinoamericanos, en el marco de la Cumbre del MERCOSUR que tendrá lugar en la provincia de Mendoza el 28 de Junio próximo.
La obra se realizó en cuatro días y medio y se planteó en formas sintéticas que representan la cosecha de la uva y del maíz, la coca y la extracción de hidrocarburos, para cerrar con el baile de los llaneros venezolanos,   tambores calentando sus parches , una máscara de Oruro y dos personas haciendo vino.
Quiero agradecer especialmente al Grupo Mendoza por su amistad, profesionalidad y compromiso. Salute. M,C.

Summer Solstice 2012

This drawing/watercolor is leaving with my friend Alejandra on Sunday, bound for the northernmost research station of Greenland.  She is gathering cores of the ice sheet for her Ph.D.-- and dousing my watercolor in glacial waters!  
The drawing/watercolor uses water-soluble inks & paints, along with acrylic grounds on watercolor paper.  The image was principally drawn and applied using curly willow branches as brushes/palette knife— a cousin to the arctic willows of Greenland, which hug the soil.   I have added extra surface and texture to the paper using acrylic modeling and fiber pastes.  The clumpy areas are meant to simulate the lichen areas attached to the stick I was using as a model.  Embedded and dried into these areas are extra daubs of watercolor paints-— principally greens and blues.

Glacial waters will activate the reservoir of paints, thereby "greening" the page.

There are no trees in Greenland, as the permafrost makes deep root growth impossible.  But with increasing global warming, we could see Greenland become full of meadowlands, bushes, and ultimately trees.  Ale and I am bringing some of the first "trees" to the northern parts of the ice cap-- even if they are only virtual and artistic.

The drawing for Greenland was made today, June 21,  on the Summer Solstice, in Boston, at 97 degrees Farenheit and at 42.3583 degrees north and 71.0603 degrees west. Photographed by me on my roof. Its next stop?-- well beyond the Arctic Circle!


Call for applications

Deadline 30 June 2012, 7:00pm IST

The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) is pleased to invite applicants for the Research Fellowship 2012, a partnership with The Delfina Foundation (DELFINA), Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) and the Goldsmith’s Department of Visual Cultures and the PhD. Program in Curatorial/Knowledge, London.

The Research Fellowship 2012 aims to provide an opportunity for intensive research in the field of visual arts by curators and researchers who have an innovative visual culture project, and who might benefit from the research and curatorial work that is being done by the fellowship's partner institutions in London. Priority will be given to projects that are further along in their development and engage with specific cultural and curatorial issues; however, new areas of research can also be proposed.  Artists are welcome to apply; however this residency is largely focused on the development of critical-curatorial discourse, not singularly on artistic practice.

DELFINA is supporting a research fellow from MENA (Middle East, North Africa) region to be in residence alongside the FICA participant from India.  The initiative will provide opportunities for both fellows to undergo the programme together, which may result in opportunities for knowledge exchange and critical discourse across the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) region. Please note that MENA participants should apply directly to DELFINA and applicants from India should apply to FICA.

The recipient will receive: A 12-week residency (late September to December) in London, including one return flight to London, a bursary for per diems and basic living costs, and accommodation at DELFINA, access to attend Goldsmith’s post-graduate courses and the Curatorial/Knowledge seminars, personal tutoring from faculty members of Goldsmiths and Iniva, and an opportunity to be involved in developing research and discussion with the Iniva’s Curatorial team, among other things.

Download FICA Research Fellowship application form from here- Please read all details on how to apply that is given in the application form carefully.
- Incomplete application forms will not be accepted.
- Applications with required documents have to be submitted via email only.

D-178, Okhla Phase 1, First Floor, New Delhi 110020, India
T +91 11 65474005 | E | W   

Secret Life of Glaciers

While cruising about on NPR's Science Friday, I found this video "Secret Life of Ice" by Edward Aites, a Seattle photographer
NPR Science Friday's "The Secret Life of Ice"
This beautiful work is done with time lapse photography using a microscope with a  polarized filter on backyard ice. Imagine "flying" about inside of Greenland's ice cap,  on a continental scale, up to almost 2 miles thick!  More NPR about the melting ice cap-- including some good news can be found at

Titan Arum blooming at Franklin Park Zoo!

As seen in the Boston Globe on 6-20-12.  Photo by David L Ryan.  
A flower that smells like carrion--its pollinated by flies-- and grows up to 10 ft. tall.  Currently blooming (late June 2012) at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston! See the fantastic article about them at U of Wisconsin's website below, which includes information about their thermal photos of the inflourescence (flower) which I show here.
    Scientific nameAmorphophallus titanum

Who was Frank H. Desch?

I'm not an exhaustive researcher, but I do make an effort to come up with at least a little background information regarding painters, illustrators, cars, planes and whatever else I write about here.

But this post is one instance where I came up virtually dry.

The subject is a man named Frank H. Desch. He was born in Philadelphia in 1873 and died in 1934 and was an illustrator who apparently worked in fine art painting on the side.

The two Internet sources about him (I only drilled through the first couple of Google pages, I confess) are here and here. Both seem to be sites oriented towards collectors. The first one offers a book or catalog of Desch's known works. But the price is $40, which greatly exceeds my research budget for an artist who doesn't greatly interest me. So his career will remain a mystery unless a seriously knowledgeable reader is able to help us out in a comment.

That said, Desch had talent, as his fine arts work indicates.


These are examples of his illustration work before 1920. It is pretty generic of the era.

The four paintings above are painted in what might be called "American Impressionist" style. The one at the top looks like a Richard E. Miller painting from the same period. Coloration is influenced by classic French Impressionism, but the subjects are clearly defined. This was something American painters preferred to do rather than create an overall effect á la Monet and those he influenced.

The two final paintings are non-Impressionist. The garden scene has the appearance of an illustration, but it's probably not magazine cover art because the woman's head is where the publication's name would usually appear. The bottom work by its style appears to be a commissioned portrait. The upper part of the subject is carefully rendered, though her hand and the lower part of her dress are more casually done.

ARTE EFÍMERO, ahora y desde siempre.

El término Arte Efímero se fraguó en los movimientos de la posguerra. Se refiere como su nombre indica, a la brevedad de su vida y posiblemente responde a la pregunta que los artistas, los críticos y teóricos se hacían sobre el arte oficial o reconocido y aquel que era rechazado por no cumplir con los cánones al uso.


Cuando hablamos de Arte Efímero nos viene de inmediato a nuestra cabeza las grandes instalaciones, muchas veces no comprendidas, y otras muchas demostraciones de arte moderno, esas que han sido “apartadas” de los cánones de arte oficial.

Pero si analizamos en profundidad la que podría ser arte efímero, éste ha existido desde siempre aunque no haya sido denominado o reconocido como tal.

 Siempre me ha empujado a la reflexión el arte efímero, si entendemos por efímero aquello que no perdura en el tiempo. Porque, volviendo a caer encasillamientos, unimos al arte con la eternidad, con crear para siempre, en algo así como una alabanza al ego del artista. Es decir en todo lo contrario a una creación nacida para morir en breve.


Y digo que siempre me ha hecho reflexionar el arte efímero porque ya desde muy pequeña en las extensas playas de mi tierra, cuando subía la marea veía que ésta arrastraba y hacía perecer a más de una obra de arte.

 ¿Quién puede decir que el Arte Efímero es cosa de nuestros días? Si alguien más me acompaña en este recorrido recordará que en su niñez, al igual que me sucedió a mi, admiró más de un castillo o escultura perfectamente realizada y que estaba destinada a morir. Sin duda ellas forman parte del arte efímero del que hoy quiero escribir aquí.

 Escultura en madera de GIANT ARNE QUIZE. Arte Efímero

Hay muchas disciplinas que podrían ser incluidas dentro de esta denominación de “Arte Efímero” .Podrían ser denominadas así desde representaciones de danza, determinadas obras realizadas en peluquería o perfumes únicos, pasando por muchos performances o el llamado arte de acción y ¡como no! las tan actuales instalaciones que se muestran en casi todos los museos de arte contemporáneo en nuestros días. Pero como arriba menciono, el arte efímero ha existido siempre y ha convivido y convive con nosotros sin que, en muchas ocasiones, lo denominemos de tal forma.


Al igual que esas preciosas esculturas de arena, otro fenómeno de la naturaleza se presta a ser modelado por las manos del artista para morir posteriormente. Me refiero a la nieve y al hielo.

Si nosotros, más cercanos a los climas cálidos gozamos de la arena de las playas, en países en los que el hielo y la nieve están presentes largo tiempo, se valen de ello para dar rienda a su creatividad. Un ejemplo lo tenemos en Québec que año tras año repite sus concursos de esculturas en nieve y hielo.


También muy cercano a nosotros tenemos un arte efímero muy habitual. El Urbano. En la entrada dedicado al trampantojo (15.03.12) ya hablé sobre ello. Desde luego, no todo trampantojo es arte efímero, todo lo contrario, pero si es cierto que hay mucho arte efímero de ese llamado urbano que nos “engaña” el ojo y que va a tener muy poco tiempo de vida. Entre las obras de esos artistas de lo efímero encontramos auténticas bellezas realizadas en nuestras calles con tizas y que tendrán una breve vida. 


Todas las disciplinas contienen o pueden contener obras de arte efímero, aún las más insospechadas.

Un ejemplo lo encontramos en la arquitectura. La Arquitectura no sólo se ha utilizado para construir determinados contenedores de emergencia (guerras, situaciones de catástrofe) puntuales y potencialmente efímeros. También los eventos deportivos o artísticos se han valido de la arquitectura para realizar edificios que no tendrían larga vida.

Los tiempos actuales nos están ofreciendo edificios revolucionarios que tienen mucho de efímeros o como mínimo de “transportables”, es decir que otorgarían, sino es al edificio, sí al espacio, el calificativo de efímero.


Un ejemplo lo podemos tomar de esos “cubos” que más de un arquitecto creativo proyecta situar en las azoteas de muchos edificios o en pequeños espacios urbanos que aliviarían el problema de vivienda y que serían posteriormente fácilmente transportables. Una publicación muy interesante sobre este tema la tenemos en XL-ecológico. Grandes ideas para pequeños edificios. Editado por G.G.


Y como no podría ser de otra manera toda esa creatividad no podía “perderse” totalmente. Los edificios “efímeros” también tienen su “espacio” reconocido dónde lucirse. La “Serpentine Gallery”, ubicada en los Kensington Gardens, desde el año 2000, encarga a los mejores arquitectos del mundo, su pabellón de verano. Se trata de estructuras que se sitúan al lado de la galería y que tienen una permanencia efímera. Concretamente permanecen tres meses. 


Una exposición de arquitectura que cada verano lleva a casi un cuarto de millón de visitantes y que se puede calificar como una de las exposiciones más visitadas del mundo.
Los pabellones se construyen con un presupuesto limitado y no obstante son auténticas obras maestras.


Os dejo una muestra de una de las ediciones en la que el estudio japonés Sanaa (Kazuyo Sejima y Ryue Nishizawa) proyecto una obra realizada en aluminio sobre columnas que semejan un bosque.  


Para finalizar me remito a un arte efímero íntimamente unido a la espiritualidad y a las raíces de una cultura y un pueblo: El tibetano. Si un arte tiene mucho de efímero, este es sin duda el que admiramos en la creación de los Mandalas tibetanos. La palabra Mandala, es traducida en ocasiones como “círculo sagrado” o “como centro y su alredor". La creación del Mandala, en algunos casos, está unida a la iniciación tántrica y representa la residencia de Buda. Son los llamados mandalas utilizados para las ceremonias que se realizan en tela pero también con arenas de colores. Son estos los que yo diría que forman parte de un arte efímero.
En una ceremonia realizada a favor de la paz por unos monjes tibetanos que visitaron nuestra ciudad, se realizó un inmenso mandala cuya efímera vida terminó volando hacia la arena con la que se había construido.


La elaboración de un mandala puede tener muchos fines. Desde una petición colectiva como la arriba mencionada o bien individual. También entrañan diferentes fines en función de las figuras representadas (los diferentes budas) y también los diferentes colores de la arena utilizada para su elaboración tienen distintos significados.

No obstante no es el objeto de este artículo introducirme en la espiritualidad del significado del Mandala ni tampoco en las diferentes tradiciones y usos, ya que es algo que no entra en los propósitos de los artículos aquí publicados, así que, como es habitual en estas entradas, me centraré en la ejecución, digamos “artística”, de los mandalas, aunque sí insisto en que se trata de un arte íntimamente unido a la espiritualidad y creencias de una cultura.

En la antigüedad los mandalas de arena, se realizaban con piedras semi-preciosas como laspislázuli o rubís. Actualmente se utiliza la arena de playa.

 Se construyen sobre una superficie plana. Se traza las líneas sobre las que se va a colocar la arena. Hay que señalar que toda la elaboración se basa en lo indicado en las escrituras budistas, es decir que no hay improvisación o creatividad, si queremos llamarlo así. 


Se va colocando la arena desde el centro a las esquinas. Esto también tiene su significado ya que simboliza el hecho de que al nacer no somos mucho más que una gota o un grano de arena.
La larga y paciente elaboración precisa de una total quietud y de un trabajo meticuloso llevado a cabo conteniendo la respiración, en ocasiones con una mascarilla que evite que no se deteriore el trabajo.

La herramienta utilizada es un cono de cobre que al frotarlo suavemente con una varilla permite, por la vibración, la salida de la arena de manera fina por el orificio realizado en la punta del cono.


Al observar el mandala podemos ver diferentes dibujos como un palacio con sus torres, diferentes colores y todo ello, tanto el palacio, las torres, sus entradas y salidas, como sus diferentes tonalidades, tienen su significado. También se puede representar el sol, flores o la naturaleza. En cualquiera de los casos será un círculo perfecto, señal del cosmos y la eternidad. De la creación del ser humano y la vida.

 Cuando se ha realizado, llega el momento de destruirlo. La arena se recoge desde las esquinas hacia el centro. En esta ocasión el significado es el regreso hacia la fuente cuando morimos.

La ceremonia tiene, entre otros, el propósito de demostrar que apegarse a lo efímero sólo nos trae sufrimiento.

Como he mencionado, la profundidad espiritual y el significado de la construcción de un mandala no es el objetivo de este artículo, pero me parecía imprescindible a la hora de hablar del “arte efímero”, traer hasta aquí una muestra de espiritualidad tan unida al arte.


Los maravillosos colores y las formas son trabajados de manera que arte y espíritu se unen para expresar la profundidad de una filosofía a través de un arte efímero.

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Fuentes consultadas:
La sabiduría de buda . Jean Boisselier (Ediciones Zeta)
Grandes ideas para pequeños edificios.Phyllis Richardson (Ed.GG)
Arte de India, China y Japón. (Ed.Espasa)
Architecture now Philip Joddio (Ed.Taschen)
La red.
Para fotografía: las mismas.