April 21, 2014

A claustrophobic experience

It was bound to happen sooner or later. All those museum visits over the past 30 months and every single one had something that struck me, tickeled my fancy, intrigued me, left me gobsmacked, enlightened me, made me smile. Each one was food for thought and - as Parisians do - material for discussion over dinner. Every exhibit was worth it's money, after all I live in Paris, la capital de la mode et de la culture until...

... last week, after dropping Expat girl off at her drama rehearsal I took myself off to yet another late night expedition, this time to Bill Viola's exhibit at the Grand Palais.

I happily strolled through the entrance to find myself surrounded by a pitch black chamber. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. The space was devided into smaller box-shaped compartments all more or less dark. Strange grunting noises came from one room on videos unfolding at a meditative pace while a breathless man was grasping for air on a screen in another. Dog fangs were springing towards me in one cube while in another video a man and a woman were slapping each other. I just skipped the last partition entirely, choosing not to watch people holding their breath underwater.

Bill Viola might be the most celebrated exponent of video art tempting to express his emotional and spiritual journey through great metaphysical themes - life, death and transfiguration - but as far as I am concerned it was the most haunting, disturbing and claustrophobic experience I have ever had in a museum.

Not even worth discussing over dinner...

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