Friday, December 30, 2011

shading off...


"Le voyageur marchant sur son ombre écrit
sans attendre que le ciel marque minuit
sous le bataille de plumes la pierre sonne."

[last verse from "Sonnet" by Alfred JARRY (1873-1907)]

[translation from the french by Francis Scarfe:: 
"The striding traveller writes his shadow down;
not waiting for the sky to strike midnight
the feathers hammer on the chiming stone."]
 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

along a swedish river...

the Gota flows through Gothenburg, Sweden's largest port city, and where we were staying near the mouth of the widening river, we could observe much maritime traffic to and from the harbour...
on an overcast Sunday afternoon we walked along the southern riverfront going under the Alvsborgsbron bridge, with views of the massive industrial sites across the river...



the enormous ferries sailed in from Norway and Germany...

past the lone red rock - the namesake of the Roda Sten Art Centre below, exhibiting international contemporary art...


a regatta of old sailing vessels floated by in the late afternoon, contrasting leisure with industry...


left behind - the ubiquitous IKEA rug as beach blanket...

a carefully embedded mosaic eye looks out onto the river and out towards the ice blue sea...


Monday, December 5, 2011

danish vernacular

Not that there is any one particular stylistic vernacular in the architecture of Copenhagen encompassing buildings from over several centuries, but on the whole the city's skyline is unobtrusively low and fairly harmonious...
The ones that caught my attention on this short visit have been mostly paired in contrasting styles and circumstances, such as the one above of one of the four identical rococo palaces at Amalienborg, residences for the Danish Royal Family since the 18th century, with the mixed modern flats in long extended blocks for their non-royal subjects...

***

The ornate brick and stone patterned façade of a 17th century house with the geometrically tiled surfaces of a 20th century planetarium, as they both project unconventional profiles upwards...

***

The batten-boarded and gable-roofed upper stories of this ivy-clad institutional building provide a traditional, almost warm and homey, feel to the school it now houses, while the sharply delineated corner glass windows of the apartments in the building below bestow a coldly hard-edged chevron design to an otherwise unadorned bare brick block...

***

The 21st century state of the art Copenhagen Opera House floats on an island in the harbour and is perfectly aligned with the axis that runs through the octagonal plaza of the Amalienborg palaces across the water, while the perfectly scaled and thoughtfully built duckhouse floats tranquilly in the pond of the Royal Library courtyard [watched over by the statue of Soren Kierkegaard no less!]...

***

A few kilometers north of Copenhagen on the way to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art located in the quiet seaside village of Humlebaek, the country vernacular manifests in tiny red cottages with picket fences and overgrown rose bushes and in larger thatched homes with well-tended gardens...all still as fresh and wholesome as in simpler times...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

danish flourishes

 The young thinker ambles through the narrow streets of his assembled city, his mind churning constant flourishes of philosophical abstracts - sticking his leather gloved finger into the soiled commons of existence, and smelling nothing, he sequesters the questionnaire eternal, the gilded irony of an earnest life...

 He sits awhile on the curved stone bench, sheltered from pithy elemental assaults - but not the stench of abject humanity - and yet the textual flourishes assail from behind, the backward comprehension of things that cannot be understood but for a curious twist of the fountainhead...

 He passes by a grand portal of bronzed archaic contortions and observes the exuberant youth as yet uncrushed by the storms of life - they who smile their expectant smiles, with no need for the nightwatch explanation of the flourishes of profane love...

 "Inasmuch as in being published it is in a figurative sense starting a journey. I let my eyes follow it for a little while. I saw how it wended its way down solitary paths or walked solitary on public roads... - On the other hand, inasmuch as in being published it actually remains quiet without moving from the spot, I let my eyes rest on it for a little while. It stood there like a humble little flower under the cover of the great forest, sought neither for its splendor nor its fragrance..." Copenhagen, May 5, 1843
[the above partial quote is excerpted from the Preface to 'Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses' by Soren Kierkegaard (1843-44), as translated by Howard V. Hong (1990)]


 "once you label me you negate me"

[he continues to sit in the tranquil courtyard garden of the Royal Library where the birch trees still flourish into the late fall and where youth's exuberant expectancy passes him by daily in its unceasing attempt to understand which are the things that cannot be understood...]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

jacobsen half-century

just over 50 years ago, Arne Jacobsen, perhaps the most widely known modernist danish architect [he would never refer to himself as a designer], designed and built the first premium "designer" hotel in the world within the capital of his home country...
the SAS Royal Hotel is Jacobsen's towering ode to mid-century modernism, the revered repository of his design refinements down to the doorhandles, the timeless temple to his intrinsic belief in perfect proportions, and ultimately in the midst of much flashier architectural hyperboles all around, it has managed to pull off being the middle-aging hipster still somehow maintaining its innate cool factor...

often quoted as the world's most beautiful staircase, the spiralling black and cream stairs from the lobby still exude a sexy come hither to climb up to ever more sophisticated reveals above...

many of Jacobsen's innovative and time-tested chair creations made their debut at the Royal Hotel where they still nest cozily today in the reception area - the cluster of EGG chairs above and the ballet of SWAN chairs below...

 the "total design" manifestation of Jacobsen's intuitive oeuvre included the royal blue crown logo for the hotel...

 on a bright fall day a little more than half century since it was built, Jacobsen's SAS Royal Hotel [now renamed Radisson Blu] still rises tall and slim, almost ageless in appearance - still basking in its glory days but remaining majestically serene as always as a pristine modernist pantheon should...

[SAS Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Hammerichsgade 1, Copenhagen]

Saturday, November 5, 2011

copenhagen peripherals

eloquent moments can easily slip by if one had not turn one's head at a particular angle, cast one's eyes in a certain direction to catch a glimpse so peripheral and sometimes so fleeting that would have been missed if one's head was tilted differently, one's eyes lifted elsewhere in that time and space...

 such moments as happened to look down at the goldleaf-speckled water of a marina...

 to glance up at the orchid and candelabra grace-notes of a coachhouse window...

 to be beckoned by the still vivid coral bloom of a mid-october rose...

 to heed in the distance the delicate sails of a half-hidden ancient windmill...

 to peer in and be romanced by the golden light flooding the emptiness of a vacated gallery space...

to timely perceive downwards a disagreeably hard object, a cheerily obsequious royal obstacle, before tripping over in a most inelegant manner...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

chromatic copenhagen

 in a gracious city gilded by the muted light of a nordic fall, vibrant colours flash their presence that much more, not least from the danish national flag...


 and this elegant multi-hued bike, a stand-out in a sea of mostly monochromatic bicycles everywhere, and I mean every sidewalk, every street, every courtyard - everywhere!


 the golden light on gunmetal gray, the cold iron grille nestling an errant white feather...

 in a shaded courtyard the saturated greens against a buttery brick wall...

the weathered whites of a window frame and the stilled sails of a model ship within...


on the fluttering flags and compasses for real ships to sail away with and safely come home again...