Sunday, November 26, 2006

Art: More than this world, at Astrup Fearnley

Yes, I had a lovely Sunday at two of Oslo's art galleries, so therefore I have three art postings in a row... After seeing the Charles Ray exhibition, I went on to see "More than this world", works from Astrup Fearnley's permanent collections.

One of the first artworks I saw was Jeff Koons' "Dolphin" (2002). I love this work! The contrast between form and substance is wonderful! (The dolphin is made of aluminium, but looks like it is an inflatable toy.) This was one of my favorites form the Jeff Koons exhibition some time ago.

Robert Gober's "Functioning Sink" (1992), however, I haven't seen before. It consists of a sink where the water is forever running. The title is a bit strange, as we would, in normal life, normally not call a sink fully functioning if it was running all the time. And the contrast between the real life and the art gallery is also what strikes me the most: How sublimely irritating to have to let the water flow, against my instinct of a whole life of not letting taps run...

Maurizio Cattelan's "Now" (2004) is also interesting. It shows a coffin with a dead man in - breathing. The "death is sleep" myth is confronted.

Jeff Koons' "Blow Job-Ice" (1991), on the other hand, is a fairly explicit scene that could have been part of a porn film. It is hard to know what makes it art - which of course makes it art just because it raises the question... Most funny was the reaction of a child of about six: "Look, she is licking his dick!" While the mother tried to not talk to much about it, the kid was going on about this artwork for minutes... ("I will NEVER lick a dick!")

All in all: a great exhibition of a few of Astrup Fearnley's best. And apparently, they will later move the museum from the drug and prostitution district to the "new town" around the new opera, and cooperate with Denmark's Louisiana. Sounds promising!

Art: Charles Ray at the Astrup Fearnley

The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art has become my favorite Norwegian museum, because of great exhibitions on important artists (Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Tom Sachs to mention three recently exhibited artists).

Aftenposten's art critic Lotte Sandberg, who can always be relied on to come up with baseless accusations to try to provoke an argument, recently criticised this particular exhibition for not having any written material for the public, but relying on what she described as "tiresome" museum hosts. It seems she overlooked the free newspaper-style guide at the entrance, giving a good overview of the exhibition, as well as the A4 fact sheet inside. (Newspaper clips on the exhibition is also available.) And the museum hosts didn't approach me once in the maybe 90 minutes I were in the museum - although I know from earlier visits that they are happy to discuss the art with you if you ask.

The exhibition in itself was quite small, and the underlying "topic" of much of it seemed to be that "things are not what they seem". Or, to put it another way: "Making the simple difficult". One example: "Ink box", a black cube which could have been painted steel. It was not - it was a box of painted steel filled with black ink filled in. What seemed to be a very solid thing you could easily stand on, would have turned out to be very messy if you tried. Which is all very funny, but maybe (and here Lotte Sandberg surprisingly has a point): is there relly more to see when you have got this simple point?

Another work: "Male Mannequin", 1990. How deservedly! The mannequin finally got a dick after all these years as an eunuch! Another simple idea, but it works...

Art: Picasso at the National Gallery, Oslo

My attitude to Picasso is one of curious respect. I like some of his work, understand some of the influence he's had and expect to gain a better appreciation as I learn more.

I didn't expect too much of this exhibition, though, as it is a fairly low-profile thing consisting of mostly lesser-known prints. I prefer the colorful Picasso, while these are black and white (or brown at most). One lot explores the relationship between artist, model and artwork. A bit more interesting are the ones inspired by other artists (such as Rembrandt). But my favorites are a few on bullfighting, particularly "Banderillaen" (1959) - an action-packed image reminding me of Hemingway.

All in all, the exhibition is interesting, reminding me to study Picasso more. The exhibition is free and open until January 2nd, 2007.

Saunas vs prostitution (!)

Again and again the same discussion turns up at gay websites such as Norwegian gaysir, most recently in this discussion: there are some people regard gay saunas as "as bad as" whorehouses.

I don't want to say that prostitution is always bad or that gay saunas is in any way always good. However, I am deeply worried about this comparison. To me, the main moral problem with prostitution is that people with severe problems see prostitution as the only way out of their problems. When that is the case, people buying sex from prostitutes are in a way taking advantage of other people to get sex. (Often, there are also third persons taking advantage of it all.) That is, to me, very problematic.

The main argument of the people who argue that gay saunas are as bad as whorehouses, is that in both cases you pay money in order to get sex. Quite apart from the fact that you are in no way guaranteed sex by entering a gay sauna, this argument suggests that the main problem they see with prostitution, is that they have to pay for it! That is a quite shallow ethical point of view...

(By the way: I'm in no way associated with Hercules sauna, and haven't even ever been there...)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Nude ad all over town

Here's an ad that has been all over town lately. Not that I'm complaining, I just wanted to mention it...

(Paleet, by the way, is a shopping mall in an incredibly central location, and with prices to match.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Movie: Wild tigers I have known

I'm 35 years old, and lately I've been thinking that I may actually be as happy now as I will ever be; having a wonderful boyfriend, a lovely family, good health, good friends and an interesting job. At the same time I'm so old that I almost don't remember how it feels like to be a young and vulnerable gay boy.

This movie helps me remember that. Fragments of the worries of a boy on his way to define his life, are beautifully shown. The use of fantasy to get away from a boring daily life is also spot on.

My only problem is that the film is a bit too fragmatic, so that the story gets a bit (too) muddled at times. But I realize that this period of life is well worth visiting, if only to remember what we are still fighting for. This movie shows how adolescence feels like at times, better than most.

Wild tigers I have known (2006)
Directed by Cam Archer
Main actors:
Malcolm Stumpf as Logan
Patrick White as Rodeo


Movie: Short program 2

One of the short programs at Oslo Film Festival seemed interesting, so I went to see it. It included three quite different films:

A conversation with Basquiat (2006)
(by Tamra Davis)

The first one was an interview with a surprisingly funny and charming artist with an exciting but short life. Cool!

Bugcrush (2006)
(by Carter Smith)

A strange story, but that is ok. The problem with this short movie is that even though the actors look alright, they are not convincing. (Such a strange story needs even more convincing actors than an average story, maybe...)

A curtain raiser (2006)
(by François Ozon)

This is a funny, philosophical thing on a very familiar topic: one person's bagatelle is another person's principle. Moreover, Bruno (Louis Garrel) is very handsome. He has played in "The Dreamers", by the way, as well as in "Ma mère", which I have not seen.


Movie: A scanner darkly

I'm a big fan of Richard Linklater. I loved "Dazed and confused" and "Slacker" in the early 90s, and also enjoyed "Before Sunrise" immensly. "The School of Rock" was a downturn, while "Before Sunset" was a nice trip back to the earlier good memories. And I had a strange experience with "Waking Life" at the Tromsø Film Festival - I was often the only person to laugh, and lots of people left during the film. I enjoyed it a lot.

"A scanner darkly" is technically much like "Waking Life" - shot as an ordinary movie, but then animated on the basis of the real-life shots. It works extremely well - the movie is very realistic while at the same time including the fantasy scenes that are necessary. The story is quite interesting - Keanu Reeves is playing a secret agent, Bob Arctor, who is so secret that his bosses apparently doesn't know who he is. So he has a bit of trouble when he is assigned the task of watching Bob Arctor - himself.

Woody Harrelson is playing a very funny character with lots of good lines. One of the funniest scenes is the one where the guys are discussing a new bike - it was sold as having 18 gears, while they can only see 9 (6+3)...

So after all this praise, why do I only give it a 7 out of 10? Well, partly because this kind of futuristic film is not my favorite kind of film, partly because I was a bit tired and partly because the technique is no longer as new as it was five years ago. Worth a look, though...

A scanner darkly (2006)
Directed by Richard Linklater
Main actors:
Keanu Reeves as Bob Arctor
Robert Downey Jr. as James Barris
Woody Harrelson as Ernie Luckman


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Monday, November 20, 2006

Movie: Agua

Oslo International Film Festival has always, sadly, been more disappointing than Films from the South or Tromsø International Film Festival, to mention two other festivals I know well. I don't know exactly why - maybe it's because it's focus is more western/mainstream than the other two. Or maybe it's because the descriptions in the program are not good enough to enable me to choose the once I will like. I don't know.

Anyway, I'm always giving it another shot. And the first movie I saw at this year's festival was Verónica Chen's Agua. It is the story of a guy who was disqualified from a swimming contest years ago (for doping), and who now tries to get his life back on track, as well as trying to get Chino's life on track as well.

The story is fairly interesting, but sadly it is told in too slow a manner for my taste - the close-ups of swimmers swimming lap after lap after lap are aestethically pleasing, but does not get the story going... So even though the movie is far from bad, it's not particularly good either.

Agua (2006)
Directed by Verónica Chen
Main actors:
Rafael Ferro as Goyo
Nicolás Mateo as Chino


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Desperate Housewives

While I'm waiting for a new season of Desperate Housewives on Norwegian television, I can at least enjoy some clips from earlier episodes on Youtube... This is the clip from when Andrew and Justin enjoys a bath together. It's funny to see it in Spanish, by the way...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

King Haakon

Originally uploaded by BjørnS.

Aftenposten has had a vote on what is Oslo's best statue. The winner was this statue - King Haakon looking towards Akershus castle. The artist is Niels Aas, inspired by Giacometti. It was raised in 1972.

These days, feelings run high about a statue of King Olav. It may well be that the (already finished) statue will never be displayed, but instead will be buried - because many find it too much like a statue of a East-European dictator. I tend to think that the statue should be put up, however. Maybe it will even become popular in a few year's time - otherwise, we may pull it down later...

Norway's most sexy men

The magazine Elle has tried to decide who are Norway's most sexy men. Unsurprisingly, I'm still not on the list. More surprisingly, neither is my boyfriend! (I take comfort that such rankings tend to include only well-known men, just as American rankings of the world's most sexy men tend to include only English-speaking guys...) :-)

Here's the list:
1. Anders Danielsen Lie

2. Henrik Bjørnstad

3. Freddy Dos Santos

4. Bobbie Peers

5. Mathias Faldbakken

Open to debate, surely. And most debated of all is putting Endre Midtstigen at no. 14. Did I mention that he is the brother of one of the editors of Elle? Well, in my mind the main problem of this list (apart from the thing that making such a list is silly in the first place) is that Elle has equalled fame with being sexy. But maybe women think that way?

Here's the 2004 list, by the way.
1. Trond Espen Seim

2. Magne Furuholmen

3. Andreas Thorkildsen

4. Jon Almås

5. Hassan el Fakiri

6. Christian Skolmen

7. Mathias Faldbakken

8. David Hansen

9. Arnulf Refsnes

10. Kristopher Schau

11. Mads Ousdal

12. Theodor Synnestvedt

13. Nikki Butenschøn

14. Erik Faber, popstjerne

15. Nicolai Cleve-Broch

16. Thomas Dybdahl