CHAPTER III – THE SPANISH TOURIST, FOAM AND JOEL STERNFELD

I finally decided not to go to Van Gogh Museum. It’s not that I don’t like the crazy ginger’s work, in fact his one of latest artists I enjoy most. I find his unbalanced mental state, which I prefer not to call insanity, is awesomely reflected n his paintings.

Whatever, except for the live shows, I feel usually uncomfortable at overcrowded public places, and this museum is likely to be packed on weekends. Nah! The only idea of being surrounded by yelling tourists, mostly Spanish, makes me feel sick.

My apologies for diverting once again from the topic of discussion, but I need to make a point, Sofia and I were discussing, and 100% agreeing, last night, in one of these endless talks fueled with red wine: when you travel and especially live abroad, you can recognize a Spanish human being with 96% accuracy. It’s like people of our same country carry a sort of invisible birthmark. We don’t think there has to be with physical features, but with the body language and the style in appearance. Obviously this conclusion can be reached only if the subject to study keeps the mouth shut, otherwise, we Spanish can be identified from miles away.

It was funny Sofia reckoned I’m one of her few Spanish friends whose nationality was hard to find out at a single glance. Not intending to seem vain nor see fellows below my shoulder, cause that’s not my style at all, I also agree with her on this. Perhaps my experience in London or the survival need to turn anonymous when abroad, as to adapt to the scene, and avoid to be outstanding are the reason for that. Of course this was impossible in Japan for obvious reasons, but in general, and also I have to credit my passion for English language, my origins remain undefined.

On a different level we could discuss about our behavior abroad. Terrible in many cases, but let me tell you we’re not the only ones, not the worst. Young people especially, tend to do things, under thesurveillance of their country fellows wouldn’t feel safe to, which involves nasty attitude. I must admit, when living in London I wasn’t a role model either, not that I’d mean to harm anyone, just let’s say I was closer to traditional Spanish picaresque.

After all this chunk related to Spanish tourists, as commented, I chose to visit FOAM, a photography museum, instead.

I expected to find something as amazing as The Moderna Museet, but this was a more humble exhibition. Foam should be considered more a gallery rather than a museum, as collections are exhibited for short time, and the space, very beautiful, is not too big either. To start with, the entrance is a bit chaos, and purchasing a ticket can be a bit annoying if there are more than 5 people trying to queue.

This exhibition, was a retrospective of the NY photographer Joel Sternfeld, named Color Photographs since 1970.

When color photography was directly related to the worlds fashion and advertising, Sternfeld dared to trespass this unwritten boundary, and started travelling across the States to simply capture whatever he found astonishing. Thanks to his dedication and efforts, color technique used for documentary purposes, started to get respect and recognition.

Several samples of his remarkable collections were shown, fortunately with comments in English (no as at the Tattoo Museum).

I particularly enjoyed those belonging to Sweet Earth – Experimental Utopias in America; and Stranger Passing, an extension of his American Prospects.

This first collection, as its name states, has to do with colonies and other projects designed for communities all through America, which eventually didn’t succeed.

I was completely fascinated by this capture, and its explanation

Queen of the Prom, the Range Nightclub, Slab city, march 2005

Stranger Passing uses the individual as the initial starting point, only to focus on the surroundings, the allocation, as the essence of the capture.

Finally, I was really shocked by the last part of the exhibition showing some pieces of the collection Another book, On This Site: Landscape in Memoriam. If you weren’t advised of the meaning of those strange and mostly decadent trashy places, not much would catch your attention. Once it’s explained those were places in which some kind of violent crime took place, a chilling feeling runs through your back. It’s amazing the way an image, if properly introduced, can impress the viewer.

Thus again, and completely by chance, I had my fix of photography, this time more documentary orientated, with this decadent halo I dig so much. Glad to have discovered Sternfeld, his work is definitely worth checking and reviewing in the future.

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