Museum Kampa

13 May
David Černý's Babies

David Černý's Babies

Museum Kampa, Prague – Beneath the Charles Bridge, the city’s hidden highlight is housed in a converted watermill on the bank of the Vltava. Descending a staircase from the bridge, along a picturesque cobbled street, before reaching the museum, the visitor will find three giant bronze babies. A surreal sight, each stands about three metres tall with a ventilation shaft for a face. Originally the babies appeared on the Zizkov television tower. They proved so popular with locals that sculptor David Černý created this permanent installation.

Housing the private art collection of Jan and Meda Mládek, the museum also has on show contemporary Czech work as well as playing host to temporary exhibitions. Included in the collection is a series of works by the Czech artist František Kupka (1871-1957). Kupka’s abstract works, some of the first in Western art, were disapproved of by the communist authorities. Since 1989 Kupka’s work has received greater prominence. The collection includes a number of notable oil paintings including The Cathedral (c. 1912) and Cosmic Spring – Creation (c. 1919-1920). The collection also contains a number of pieces by the sculptor Otto Gutfreund (1889-1927) including a series cubist portraits. On the second floor is a collection of contemporary painting and sculpture. Stjepan Gračan’s Untitled (c. 1980s) work is particularly striking.

Until February 6, 2011 ran the temporary exhibition, a retrospective look at the careers of Josef Svoboda and Robert Wilson, Light up the Lights. According to one of the curators Daniel Dvořák, the exhibition offers an interesting comparison of two specific creative concepts. “While Josef Svoboda created – above all – stories and dramas using light, Robert Wilson uses light to paint bewitching stage scenes.”  The exhibition included drawings and sketches from both designers as well as large projections and elements from individual stage designs. Of superlative quality included was a lighting set from Wilson’s staging of Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach and video of Svaboda’s staging of La Traviata.

Highly recommended when in Prague, if however you are unable to visit the museum has been included as one of the lead galleries for the Google supported Art Project. © To Your Arms, 2011

Aéroport international Montréal-Mirabel

20 Jun

Mirabel

Mirabel’s sad story is a tale of planning mistakes and political paralysis.1 Originally conceived as the airport of Montréal’s future it had been designed by city planners to handle a projected 6.8 million people initially with an eventual planned capacity of 50 million by 2025.2 3 When the airport was finally closed to passengers in 2004 it saw less than 800,000 pass through its doors.

Inaugurated in 1975 the airport was the largest in the world in terms of surface area for close to a quarter of a century.  Mirabel was envisioned during the economic upsurge that Montréal experienced during the 1960s. It was during this time that the city hosted the Expo ‘67 World’s Fair and opened its Metro system. Historically Montréal had been Canada’s commercial centre but even as the airport opened its doors the city was about to be overtaken by its neighbour Toronto.

During the time of Mirabel’s conception planners intended to capitalise on Montréal’s position as an aviation hub which was boosted by the airlines’ need for a refuelling stop en-route to west coast destinations. The 1973 OPEC oil crisis, the advent of longer range jets, Montréal’s relative economic decline in contrast to Toronto’s rise and the failure of the government to provide adequate transport links between Mirabel and the city all contributed to the project’s failure.

In the rush to get the airport open in time for the Olympics, it was decided to transfer flights to Mirabel [from Dorval airport] in two stages.4 This meant that for travellers wishing to transfer between international and domestic flights they would have to make a trip across the city to Dorval, and for Montréalers to travel miles out of the city to catch their flights. Adequate transport links were never provided. A huge underground docking area was factored into blueprints to accommodate high-speed electric trains that would ferry passengers to and from Dorval and downtown Montréal. Known as “le TRRAMM,” the quarter-mile long underground corridor stretches the full length of the terminal’s southern flank.5 The trains never came nor did the passengers. © To Your Arms, 2010