Critique, Pizza , and Packing… Goodbye!

Today started out with us hurrying to Regent’s College for our final critique!  We left late, the gate wasn’t working, but we still managed to get breakfast before class! Marketa joined us again today and gave us feedback once again! I love hearing what she has to say and she has the best stories.  The only complaint is that I never know when I need to start writing down what she’s saying and by the time I think about it, I begin to forget what she had said already!

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Marketa visited us for our last two days in London and participated in our morning critique.

After critique was over we headed down to the cafeteria for the last time to spend as much of our cards as possible.  We bought snack foods and drinks to hopefully last us on our plane rides and whatnot in the morning.  I ended up having around 20 pounds left on my card.  I wish we could have used them in the gift shop – then it would’ve been gone!  We headed off to lunch at that point.

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Our final group lunch consisting of pizza, pizza, and more pizza.

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After finishing our huge personal pizzas we said farewell to Howard and Kathy and went our separate ways.  Some people went back to Abbey Road to take pictures, packed, went shopping at Brick Lane, while Carra and I went to another tourist spot…

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Can you guess what tourist spot lurks behind these walls?

Platform 9 3/4!!! Did you guess right?? Interesting fact: the cart is not between platforms 9 and 10 anymore because it was causing to much delay for the actual trains by having so many people on the platforms.  It’s just out in the main hall area and we would’ve passed by it had there not been a line of red shirted Canadians!  You can tell that the two people working there definitely love their job (Alfie and Maddy).  Alfie was what I would call the “scarf flipper” and greater of the team.  He became best friends with a mom from New Jersey and was even trying to talk with a Jersey accent.  When I got to the head of the line he was whistling a song and quickly asked me what song it was.  I quickly shot back – “Hedwig’s Theme.”  He said, “Good. Someone earlier said Lord of the Rings…” I thought it was funny that he asked me about that particular song since that was one of the first songs I learned how to play in my junior high marimba lessons.After missing out on the Harry Potter studios I’m so glad that Carra tagged along with me to find this place!  Thank you, Carra!!

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Photograph by Carra, pre-scarf flip.

After this we headed off to Primark for the last time, I bought a couple more things, we got separated for a bit (I mean what do you expect in a 4 story store?) met back up and headed home.  Overall, it was a good, somewhat relaxing last day.  I wish we had more time here to explore, but it just wasn’t in the cards, I guess.  We’ll just have to come back sometime in the future.  So here’s hoping to safe travels tomorrow – whether it be back home to the states or to Italy.  I’m grateful for this opportunity I was given and the experiences we have all had together.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Thank you everyone, for a wonderful trip!

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Busy like a bee.

After some false starts to this morning and leaving late, we made it 3 minutes before our scheduled Stonehenge time (6:15A) – PHEW!!!  One of the security guards told us the rules: basically do nothing but take pictures and breathe.  It had rained a few hours before so some of the stones had pools in them and the grass was still dewy and damp.  I can’t imagine being in a bigger study abroad group – especially in this instance – even though then we wouldn’t have had this opportunity.  Even with just the sixteen of us we get in each other’s way of our shots without meaning to.  While that aspect is always difficult no matter where we go – this opportunity was amazing and walking amongst and outside the stones was so surreal!  Although they are smaller than I thought they would be!  The hour we were there for went by so fast!  Hopefully I have some keepers among all the photographs taken today!

Following Stonehenge we ate more of our breakfast food and headed to Salisbury to walk around the Cathedral.  Luckily we were able to go in – we just had to be quiet because a service was going on.  It was a small one though and I don’t know if it was because it was early or what because there were only ten or so people there.  Also inside was the world’s oldest clock.  Unfortunately, cameras weren’t allowed inside so I couldn’t take a picture of it, but it was a wheel and pulley system.  For such a big cathedral it was a cute little town.  After this we headed off to Lacock.

Lacock is known for its Abbey and it was beautiful.

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Lavender was planted around the Abbey and it smelled wonderful.

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Some parts of a movie was filmed here, as well – can you guess what movie it was??

On one side of the Abbey was a field of sheep and in another a lady walked with her two sheep dogs.  It was such a peaceful scene.  All around was the sound of British English which always makes me happy.  That is, until it’s directed in a scolding manner that isn’t necessary.  After a situation regarding my backpack and an Abbey worker that made me take it off and carry it around, I was just glad to get back outside.

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Lacock Abbey grounds: this stump had steps carved into its side.

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Lacock Abbey grounds: I definitely sat on this stump for awhile – how could I resist?

I don’t think the others in the group explored to this side of the Abbey where there was a pond and several amazing old trees.   I wandered around the grounds and town streets for awhile before meeting back with the group at Sign of the Angel where we had a traditional English lunch.  I had the “Traditional Roast Pork with Sage & Apricot Stuffing and Apple Sauce” and “Meringue with Cheddar Strawberries and Clotted Cream” for dessert!  Thank you Howard and Kathy for a delicious lunch!

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We were all so tired that everyone slept on the way back to London. It took us 2+ hours to get back because of traffic – I felt bad for our driver who was supposed to be done for the day well before then.  Here’s to a busy busy day!  It was a good one!

Au Revoir, Paris! HELLO London!!!

Travel day has come and gone and I’m not really sad that it was our last.  There’s something reassuring about knowing you won’t have to lug your luggage across a city up hills and cobblestone streets, and that the next time you have to carry all your luggage will be to Heathrow Airport to head home.  It’s the final stretch in a race where you can see the finish line – the final line on the page that finishes the masterpiece of art.

Au Revoir, Paris!

Au Revoir, Paris!

After waking up early and eating our last French breakfast at MIJE, we headed off to the carousel by the St. Paul metro to meet up with Howard and Kathy.  We took cabs to the train station where, once again, we came face to face with yellow caution tape.  Paris really liked keeping us on our toes.  For those of you that haven’t read the previous posts from this travel day or the day we headed to Arles, when there is abandoned luggage in a station the security/police scope it out and then blow it up.  That was our farewell in Paris.   Of course that changed the departure times and there was a mass crowd at the stairs and escalator, controlled by a handful of workers only allowing certain train times to continue.  It’s a good thing we got to the station so early, because by the time we got through customs and on the train we didn’t have to wait long before it left for London!

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This was taken shortly after leaving the station in Paris. The countryside was gorgeous so I’m glad I didn’t fall asleep!

While on the train we had Metropolitan magazines (which I should’ve kept, but I at least to pictures of the interesting pages!).  My future teacher self came out at this point and was looking at all the facts about the tunnel and sharing them with my seatmates (which they did not enjoy, sorry!)  For those of you who are interested here are some facts:

  • The deepest point below sea level that the tunnel reaches is 195 metres
  • The length of each tunnel is 50.45 km.
  • It takes 20 minutes to travel through them.
  • In 2003 the record-breaking top speed of the Eurostar train was 208 mph.
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While going through the tunnel all you could see were the reflections in the windows.

I was kind of disappointed since it was just a tunnel of black, hardly any lights, for that amount of time.  The only thing that I thought was interesting was knowing that I was below water at that point.  Our train, because of the delay, was running 30 minutes behind – but eventually we arrived in London!

Gabby and Olivia awake and ready to arrive in London.

Gabby and Olivia awake and ready to arrive in London.

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Our university driver that picked us up at the station.

The driving will definitely take some getting used to.  The normal MSU student standpoint of “I know how much time I have to get to the other side of the road before the car gets to me” doesn’t apply here, for me anyway.  Just by having the cars on opposite sides of the road makes you have a new way of thinking and taking in your surroundings.

I’m the kind of person that loves listening to other languages and accents, and don’t get me wrong, Prague, Arles and Paris had plenty of that… but I’m just so glad to be somewhere that speaks English as one of the main languages.  When we first got to Regents University London I think we all expected to hear British accents around us.  Instead we are surrounded by our fellow Spartans (also on their study abroads).  I’m happy to be somewhere where there are people from back home besides our group of 14, and some of our group have seen their friends here!  I don’t know of anyone that’s still in London, but that would be pretty amazing!

Later we went to a fish and chip place that Howard had suggested, but not liking fish I got a hotdog and chips.  5 minutes later the guy starts putting what I swear was fish on top of the chips and I say something along the lines of “That’s not a hot dog.”  After some confused back and forth and realizing that even with English as a commonality, there’s still a barrier in dialect.  The workers all thought it was a funny mistake, and they made my hotdog and apologized and the group was back on its way.  5 of us headed back to our apartments while the rest of the group went searching for a park to eat in, mind you it was after 9 so I think they ended up just sitting on a street.

After eating and doing some last minute things, I went to sleep and got 8 hours!! Finally! However, the iPhone I’m using hadn’t switched time zones, so I got up an hour earlier than I would’ve had to.  😦  In 30 minutes or so we’re off to a nearby tube station to meet up with Howard and go to a museum and later we’ll be talking with a local museum curator.  Here’s to a new day in a new place!!

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

The best thing about having our hostel where it is, is that we’re in the middle of all the hustle and bustle!!

This morning half the group met with Howard and the others with Darcy to talk about our prospective projects for Paris.  Having two professors at once definitely speeds up the process!!  We started off as a group at 11 by going around the block to a nearby photography exhibit (Maison Europeenne de la Photographie ville de Paris).  The building housed 4 different photographers’ exhibits.  My personal favorite was Ferrante Ferranti’s work.  Because the museum doesn’t allow photography, I scribbled in my notebook each time I saw a photograph that I liked.

The following images were side-by-side but not put together as a triptych, they only happened to be next to each other and draw my attention to them.  The first image was Ferranti’s Pelerin musulman, sanctuaire de Cheikh Hussein, 2008.  The man seems almost phantom-like with what looks to be dust on his skin, and is juxtaposed against a bright blue sky and green and white tent.  The difference in colors draws your attention to the image at hand.  Next to this piece was a man who kneeled on the ground giving praise toward the photograph’s upper right corner (Imam en priere, mosque de Vendredi, 2009.  We as the viewer are looking at the man from his right side, but the man himself isn’t what drew me to the image.  It was instead the walls of the room he was in.  The photo almost seemed to be back light somehow or like the walls were illuminated when the photograph was taken.  The bright sunlight on the geometric walls light up the man in his praying/worshiping state and bring your attention to him instead of taking away from him.  With each of these images the colors became less obvious.  The second picture had natural daylight as the overall color tone, while the final image (Repas du moine Kukai, temple aux milles lampes, 2011) would appear as black and white if it were not for the monks set in the background of the image robed in orange.  The snow on their surroundings and the lack of color create a solemn feeling.  This only grows as you begin to wonder what it is they’re carrying between them – perhaps a coffin.  The lack of color draws you to their slow and solemn actions of carrying the box up the stone stairs. While the photographs in Ferranti’s first room were all in color, his second room was filled with black and white/less colorful photos.

In this second exhibition I had three favorite images; the first was a diptych (Palmeraie de Tozeur, 1995 & Le Khasneh, 1995) which allowed us to see similarities in the lighting patterns and natural shapes within the photographs (the sun through the trees versus the natural curve of stone/mountain walls).  As well, both images have human figures silhouetted against the sunlight cascading through the natural blockades (trees/stone).  The shadow in the trees first appears human, but then after looking closer it is seen to be a person riding on the back of a pack mule/donkey.  These lonesome figures also allow a connection to be made between both pieces – they draw your attention from the figure, to the well-lit foreground, and back again. The third image I stared at continuously was Piscina Mirabills, 2010.  When you first entered the hall you might think it’s watercolor and not a captured image.  The light and dark variations of the arches draw the eye through the photo to the back doorway draped with ivy.  The texture of the stones is not so smooth as to be boring and is not so rough as to detract from the coloring of the stones that comes naturally with age.  I definitely enjoyed starting the day off with these photography exhibits.

Following the exhibits we went to a traditional French sidewalk cafe for lunch.  We had the best time at Royal Turenne and our waiter was great!

With waiter after the lunch at the "Brasserie Traditionnelle"

With waiter after the lunch at the “Brasserie Traditionnelle”

After lunch, even though we were all full, we had room for gelato!! Then we were on our own.

Some of us wandered off to find a camera store where they sell toy cameras.  Andrea and Lizzy both bought cameras and Marisol found some film that fit her camera that she bought in Prague!!!

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Dylan and Marisol figuring out how to put the film in the camera.

Everyone was pretty excited after that – like kids on Christmas.  At 8 we went on an hour long boat cruise on the Sienne.  It was beautiful and lots of pictures were taken!!

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The Eiffel Tower from the Seine

Overall, today was yet another wonderful day in Paris!  This weekend there aren’t any trips going on out of the city, but I’m sure we’ll be busy!! Perhaps going to the Louvre, the big market on Sunday, and who knows what else will be in store for us!

John Stezaker: Working from the Collection

Sarah Hundt

John Stezaker

#12:  Working from the Collection

– Atelier des Forges

When I first walked in to John Stezaker‘s exhibition, I didn’t like how he had connected images together.  I’ve seen works before when people put multiple pictures together to form one – so I wasn’t sure what made his work different.  However, then I started walking around and looking at his pieces more intently.  The first image I noticed because it had Rosemary Clooney (White Christmas’s Betty) in it.

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John Stezaker had an interest in conceptual photography and he then began to focus on the image, “finding new aesthetic allegiances with the image through working with found photographs and printed matter.”  He translated into “alterations, deletions, visual concordances and juxtapositions of disparate sources” which created new images all together.  These remade images allow the viewers to imagine new relationships, characters and meanings that weren’t in the initial two images.

But it wasn’t until this piece that I truly appreciated how much work he must have put into his pieces.  At first I looked at it as a whole and didn’t understand why he would place the ocean photo over the portrait.  Then if you look carefully, you notice that the ocean spray forms the shape of her hair.

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His other pieces use either landscape images, portraits, or other staged photographs and cut them together to form a new image.  I don’t remember seeing titles listed under/near the collages.  And if they were listed on the side of a wall it’s hard to connect which title goes with which collage.

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I looked at the image above for awhile because from afar it seems that it’s a single photo.  Both images look to be from a television show, and the lower left photograph depicts a man cutting into a woman’s leg.  You can also see her gripping his arm and biting his sleeve to keep herself from screaming.  By paring that portion of one photo with the other (where the ladies stare on either in adoration/boredom) Stezaker created a new story.

It’s amazing to think just how much time he must put into finding the right images to fit the portraits.  I would definitely recommend looking at more of John Stezaker’s work to see just how he pairs images to work as a whole.

Sergio Larrain: Retrospective

Sarah Hundt

Sergio Larrain: Retrospective

Église Sainte-Anne

Sergio Larrain’s work portrays people making the most of what they are given.  Frame after frame in black and white you see situations that pull at your heart strings.  “The abandoned children of Santiago were to be the subject of the first substantial work” by Santiago and were “a mirror of his personality and an expression of his desire for a better society.”  The picture below depicts a young boy who was given coins on the street.

Santiago, Chili 1955

A memo on one of the walls said that the children on the streets were fed until they were 14 years old and then they are on their own.  Looking at his work and reading what Agnes Sire, the exhibition curator, gave in the form of historical context, really makes you think about the meaning behind each image.  It’s not just a black and white image – it depicts how someone lives their life every day.  They depict moments that people of “good monetary standing” take advantage of and ignore, sometimes on a day-to-day basis.  In Prague and even in Arles we have seen mainly adults or elderly people on the streets.  And the idea of children living on the streets in those kinds of situations breaks my heart.

These children see a wooden fence as a play ground, a couple coins as money for their food for the week… we can’t possibly fully understand where these children are coming from, but Sergio Larrain’s work helps bring these moments to light and brings about awareness.

The Fisherman’s daughters, Los Horcones, Chile, 1956

Erik Kessels: Album Beauty & 24 hrs of photos

Sarah Hundt

Erik Kessels’s “Album Beauty” and “24HRS of Photos”

07 Palais de l’Archevêché

One of the exhibits that we went to today was 07 in Palais de l’Archevêché which showed us the works of Erik Kessels.  The first exhibit was Album Beauty. When we first walked in, I didn’t really understand why there were copies of old photos on the walls.  After reading about his work it all made sense.  I connected with his two installations at this venue, because family photo albums is something that I’m very interested in.

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A copy of Erik Kessels description of “Album Beauty”

I definitely agree that Facebook and other mediums are allowing photo albums to disappear.  Before leaving for this study abroad I visited with my great aunt who shared some of her albums with pictures of my grandmother, aunts, and other family members in Belgium.  She made a comment about how she would probably just throw them away one day, because who would want them?  Both my dad and I raised our hands quickly.  This exhibit reminded me of that moment.  While the internet, cell phones, etc. might make photographs easier to be shared, they allow for the images to almost become less valuable.  The rarity of family photos is made into something common place, and not memorable anymore.

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“Album Beauty” – Old family photo albums

Along with the copied scrapbook/photo album images hung on the wall, there were installations as well.  In the middle of the floor was this stack of albums.  Their covers were dirtied and worn and while they were tied in stacks, they give off a sense of abandonment.

Paired with the lonesome, aged photos, was his second exhibit, 24HRS of Photos, in which he used pictures from social media (Flick’r), which were uploaded in a 24-hour period, and scattered them in a large room.  You can immediately tell the difference, solely from the colors that create the images as well as the shape that they are thrown haphazardly in. I definitely think that he somehow created a form that was placed under the photos to create a point more dramatically than having an album, or just having them on a flat floor.

This first image is looking down at the top of the picture “hill” and the second is looking up from below while Dylan, Andrea, and Elizabeth look down.

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“24 hrs of photos” from above

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“24 hrs of photos” from below

The biggest point to this piece is that the images are those people had uploaded to Flick’r in 24 HOURS!!!  While I did notice some duplicates, it still makes a good point.  So many pictures are uploaded, as Kessels said, “freely and shamelessly.”

This installment makes you think about anything that might be posted online.  Why do we really need to share so much online? And what determines if it is important enough to post?  One of the pictures I saw duplicates of was of carrots – who decided that posting a picture of carrots on a plate was a good idea/important.

What’s more important in the moment – family history or something you ate for lunch?

I’ll choose family history every time.