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Showing posts with label Mallorca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mallorca. Show all posts

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seeing Miró

Since we no longer have our subscription to Danish television by satellite here in Spain, we have been enjoying watching whatever we can get by finding individual programs on the Internet and then projecting them onto the TV screen via Apple TV. We can still watch our favorite cooking, real estate, and antiques shopping programs from Denmark; we just see them a day after they are broadcast. But we can usually get the half-hour evening news, broadcast at 6:30, if we wait to start it until 7:30. That matches my evening cooking schedule a lot better than the 6:30 hour used tom anywy.

Lately we have started to watch the PBS Newshour from the U.S. Due to time differences, we don't watch the evening news program until the following morning, but it makes for a good thing to do while we pedal along on the exercise bicycle. This week I pedaled extra long while I watched a segment on Joan Miró, the Spanish artist, who was born in Barcelona in 1893 and who died on the island of Mallorca in 1983.

Miró is currently the subject of a spectacular exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum that features abstract painting and sculpture that he completed while in his 70s and 80s. He used vibrant colors and metamorphosed found objects to create works that show a very unique way of looking at the world.

I had heard of Miró before this program but somehow I had escaped the irony, or poetic justice, of his name. Mirar is the Spanish verb for "to look" and miró is the past tense (pretérito, to be precise) meaning that "he looked." He certainly did, and he continued looking and observing and creating until he was 90, leaving a legacy of interesting and fantastic works of art.

The works in Seattle are on loan from the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid and have never been seen in the U.S. before. They are going on to North Carolina, to the Nasher Museum at Duke University, from September through next February, where the exhibit is entitled, appropriately, The Experience of Seeing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't Steal This Book!

Photo: Johannes Bjørner
"Excommunication, by the will of His Holiness, the Pope, is promised to any person who removes, steals, or causes the displacement of any book, parchment, or paper from this library, without any possibility of absolution, until such a time as the item has been completely restored to its place."

A sign on the wall of the library at the monastery in Valldemossa, Mallorca, Spain.

We were nevertheless allowed to browse freely through this room, unsupervised, with the ancient books in their cases, unprotected--and to photograph them. But we were, of course, warned.

A Winter in Mallorca - George Sand and Chopin

The French writer and feminist George Sand came to Mallorca with her two children and her lover, Frederic Chopin, in December 1838. At first they lived in Palma, but the two houses they had were unsuitable to the winter-cold climate and they found refuge in a former monastery in Valldemossa, a village only about a dozen miles northwest of Palma, though in the 1830s it was a much longer 12 miles than it was on the rainy December day we drove there.

Wandering through the monastery's many cells was surreal. We were outside the regular tourist season and usually succeeded in avoiding the one busload of tourists simply by removing ourselves to a different room: the chemist's cell (apothecary), the two library rooms, or the several cells that may have been the homes of the couple, her children, and their servants. There are two pianos reportedly used by Chopin during his visit, the one that was transported from his home to the island (though delayed for a long time in customs) and the one he borrowed in Palma in the meantime.

Sand wrote in A Winter in Mallorca of the lovely natural scenery in Mallorca--and of the unpleasant people! No doubt the native Mallorquins were afraid of catching Chopin's tuberculosis and also were disgruntled that the couple never appeared at church, even on Sundays.

On a misty day and with free range to wander through the rooms and gardens at the monastery, and away from the hustle and bustle of other tourists, it was easy to imagine the couple in this place, and how nature and relative isolation could apparently give Chopin some peace to compose so much lovely music in the barely three months he spent here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mar de Lenguas - The Sea of Languages

The language most commonly spoken in Mallorca is Mallorquin, a version of Catalan, which is itself one of Spain's four official languages. While in Palma one rainy morning, we went to see a traveling exhibition called (in English) The Sea of Languages: Speaking in the Mediterranean.

I was astonished at how many languages are spoken in the large area that surrounds the Mediterranean Sea--24, according to the official brochure, and that includes several that you have probably never heard of. Those spoken by more than ten million inhabitants of the Mediterranean area are Tamazighi/Berber (20 million), Arabic (152 million), Spanish (31 million), French (70 million), Greek (11 million), Italian (55 million), Romanian (23 million), Serbo-Croatian (17 million), and Turkish (56 million).

Catalan has only 9 million speakers and is the official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Catalan has been spoken in Catalonia since the 8th century and spread to outlying areas through the conquests of King Jaume I in the 13th century. It began to lose dominance to Spanish in the 16th century but began a resurgence in the late 19th century. The use of Catalan is a political issue (also evidenced recently when the Frankfurt Book Fair honored Catalan in 2007), but politics was light and culture predominated in this exhibition.

It was fortunate for me that the numerous interactive exhibit posts were available in Spanish and English in addition to Catalan, though it is amazing how much can be understood from the written Catalan if you also know a couple other Romance languages. In addition to the political and linguistic map of the Mediterranean (seen above), the other highlight was a large three-screen video of young people talking in and about their multiple languages. The assumption of these youths was that they would speak several languages in various situations throughout their lives.

If a language is spoken by children, went the theme, it will survive. Also necessary for survival: radio, TV, the Internet. Not a word about books. But I do think they were talking about spoken languages, not necessarily written languages. Of course, some might argue that a language is not a language without some form of written expression.

The exhibit was prepared by Linguamón--House of Languages, a body of the government of Catalonia that aims to promote the world's languages (plural) as a
  • vehicle for communication, civilisation and dialogue
  • source of personal development, human creativity and heritage of mankind
  • right of individuals and of linguistic communities.