Posts Tagged ‘barcelona’
A small window into the experience of students from the Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona who spent a week near Dakar, Senegal in Keur Mbaye Fall, working in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity.
“If we wish to teach fish to swim, it helps if we put them in the water”
Today, these merry makers were playing in Park Guell just as they are in this clip shot in late December:
The first week of living in a new place is somewhere up pretty high on the list of things that don’t get any easier with practice. Like a new anything, after the initial infatuation wears off, what’s left is this: the realization that what worked before is no longer valid here. Here, in a new place, we are confronted with what we seem to be most naturally resistant to: change.
So it is with a tinge of reticence we set off to see about developing new methods for accomplishing the tasks of living under a new definition of ourselves within the unknown environment surrounding us. This means getting lost, losing precious time and generally being hard on ourselves to find a pace equivalent to what we once knew. Previously simple tasks that were quickly accomplished now require inordinately huge investments of time by comparison. Add to this a language component and we’re talking about a serious commitment to even the most basic objectives, such as acquiring groceries. Everything must be undertaken with a strong focus on patience and not getting down in the face of the adversities that present themselves on a seemingly constant basis.
This is the real stuff. The moments that move us outside of our comfort levels and force us to face our weaknesses in spite of our better judgment.
At least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves as we step lively into the streets of the unknown ; )
Such is the case for yours truly, who admittedly hasn’t had much of any other experience in this life other than nearly constant change. Let me share this earnestly with you: for someone who’s had as much practice as anyone, change simply does not get any easier with practice. It continues to challenge, it continues to humble and it continues to push me to being open to the process of learning in all of its tough, wonderful and hidden manifestations.
This, of course, does not mean to imply that it’s always a barrel of laughs.
Take, for example, the luxury in which people live in the US. Particularly: hot water. Most of the people living in the States take this single resource for granted far more than they realize. Hot water is in abundance there, even in the less-refined regions of apartment living. Folks rise in the morning, evacuate their bladders and promptly prepare for the day ahead with a shower of the stuff. Each time they approach the shower, turn it on, they are accustomed to waiting no more than a few moments before the warmth of it is doing what it does to invigorate, cleanse and get them ready for the day. It runs freely over heads, arms and legs while washing away the sleepy night and down the drain it goes for as long as deemed necessary. It’s given nary a thought.
Such extravagance is what is known as “double-glazing” (taken from the wise comments in this clip from Creature Comforts (@ 1:40 in)
Take, for example, my shower this morning: the size of the shower is taken into consideration here because in my experience in Barcelona, apartments all have showers half the size of what used to exist as phone booths. Half. The. Size. The hot water supply follows in kind. There is so little of it, that a person must ration if off during the course of a shower like oxygen would be should one ever find themselves trapped in a disabled submarine at the bottom of the ocean for an indefinite period of time.
Prior to entering the shower, one must first ensure that there even IS any hot water available. If there is, I don’t let it run too long during testing. I’m hip to the possibility that a short blast of what is left can be an illusion, which means upon entering the shower and reactivating, one must prepare to potentially be blasted with an equally-awakening, though, heart-stopping-ice-cold pulse and the risk of cardiac arrest before the day even begins. Should there actually be any remaining hot water, a quick blast to wet the head is priority one. My father always taught me to wash a car from the top down in order to ensure that we work with gravity to maximize the cleaning process. The same rules apply here to maximize effectiveness of our hot water rations. After a quick douse, proceed with suds-ing of the hair.
Now, mind you, the water is OFF at this point, right? If you’re not used to the sound of washing your hair WITHOUT the accompaniment of running water, this can be a rather, let’s say “odd” sound. I say it’s a bit on the sad side. I dunno why it’s a sad sound but it is to me. Perhaps because it is being faced with a RADICALLY different experience than the years of conditioning I’ve had doing this while listening to water running and warming my entire body while doing so. In this case, not only is the water not running, but my body, freshly warmed by the quick douse to wet the head, is beginning to cool rapidly: yet another strange sequence out-of-tune with what has been expected since birth.
For those of you who know me, you are aware that I am of of above average height and size. This makes the process one of even greater comedy. Anyone watching or listening to this would wonder what is the matter. Standing flush up against the inside of this glass box, a fella my size is at risk for breaking the thing, inflicting deep flesh woulds from the broken glass (here I should mention I can only just barely get the doors closed and am required to finagle myself extensively in order to succeed in doing so). The same is true for most restrooms found in restaurants in this part of the world. I can barely enter them, let alone contort myself enough to do what it is I usually desperately need to do at once, as I typically avoid these spaces vigorously until the last possible moment, which has often enough led to even more profound instances of bumbling foolery.
This is how the process continues: a quick rinse, followed by proceeding to wash whatever body part is next-highest in relation to gravity that has not yet been washed, a rinse, and so on, until the job is complete. All the while, the rest of the body shivers in the cold morning, wondering where the feeling of circulation-stimulating hot water is that it’s so used to after all these years.
One can imagine, though, how much water this actually saves compared to letting so much of it run down the drain while we’re washing or, even more gluttonously, just standing in it while dreading the idea of yet another day filled with unproductive meetings.
On the upside, successfully completing a shower while maintaining a successful balance of safety and hot-water-usage prepares one for the day better than transcendental meditation.
This is all to say that space, hot water and the double-glazing is all very easily taken for granted. In a week I will be in Dakar, Senegal, where this, too, will be deep-dish luxury by comparison.
I welcome the contrast. Returning to Barcelona will then be its own, new flavour of double-glazing that I can then in turn continue to take for granted as I have been so well conditioned to do.
in Barcelona is colorful, artful, so expressive and anything but:
Above is a pic of the living room in my new apartment in the Born district of Barcelona. El Born is a small village within the city, fashionable but very authentic, where luthiers, glass-makers and designers have their shops and studios and where pensioners play cards, young people hang out and chat at the edge of the fountains. Charged with history, here I will witness the commercial prosperity of the XIII century. Much of the architecture from that period still remains. It also happens to be the neighborhood where Picasso’s gallery lives:
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Earlier this year, I had the thrill of spending some time with Isabel Coixet. I also worked closely with her daughter, a young filmmaker herself, during my residency in Barcelona in March and April.
Those not familiar with Isabel’s work, I kindly recommend her features:
* Demasiado viejo para morir joven (“Too Old to Die Young”) (1989)
* Cosas que nunca te dije (Things I Never Told You, 1996), with Lili Taylor and Andrew McCarthy
* A los que aman (“To Those Who Love”) (1998)
* My Life Without Me (2003), with Sarah Polley, Mark Ruffalo, Maria de Medeiros and Amanda Plummer
* Â¡Hay motivo! (2004) (segment “La insoportable levedad del carrito de la compra”)
* The Secret Life of Words (2005), with Sarah Polley and Tim Robbins
* Paris, je t’aime (2006) (segment, “Bastille”)
* Elegy (2008) Based on Philip Roth’s novel The Dying Animal, with Ben Kingsley, Peter Sarsgaard and PenÃ©lope Cruz
* Map of the Sounds of Tokyo (2009)
Not found on this list taken from Wikipedia, is a collaborative project Isabel contributed to that may be some of my favorite of her work.
Here’s the trailer for Invisibles:
Ten-man Barcelona denied Chelsea of a place in the Champions League final in the cruelest of fashions with a 93rd-minute away goal at Stamford Bridge.
A stunning first-half volley from Michael Essien looked to have earned Chelsea victory and set up a repeat of last yearâ€™s Champions League final against Manchester United, where they could seek their revenge.
But Andres Iniesta beat Petr Cech in the third minute of added time to send the Spanish bench and their fans delirious and leave Guus Hiddink heartbroken.
At the final whistle, Chelseaâ€™s players gathered around referee Tom Ovrebo, who had waved away at least four penalty appeals during the game.
The scenes descended into anger when Drogba came out of the tunnel to confront the Norwegian official and was shown a yellow card.
Ovrebo had a poor game and was marshaled down to the tunnel by Chelsea stewards as Drogba continued to complain about his performance.
We showed silent films that have been around for almost a century to 7-year-olds and they were rolling on the floor. Chaplin and Keaton are as relevant as ever.
Once they caught their breath, they made simple storyboards, title pages and backdrops for their own silent movies, acting out the scenes with toys.
Each crew of three had to rehearse at least once in front of the camera before we filmed their own, original silent film. Editing was done by me, to their specs, of course : )
There are quite a few of these, but the above is one of the favorites. Click on the image to watch. Enjoy.
Wanna see more? Click here.
I’m not one who usually rides on the back of anything except maybe a horse.
Yesterday, however, I couldn’t pass up a chance to ride through Barcelona on the back of my friend’s scooter during rush-hour.
I was fortunate to be invited to participate in [and document] a field trip to one of the more reverent locales around Barcelona, MÃƒÂ³n Sant Benet.
Here’s the site’s official story:
Above is another PSA we made together around the issue of littering, which is a rather huge issue here as the city of Barcelona employs vast armies of cleaning crews who constantly follow behind the hordes of people here who throw their trash on the streets and park almost constantly.
Thus, it is a challenge to encourage people not to litter when there are so many deployed to clean up after them.
This week at the school, we’re looking at and making our own PSAs.
Broadcast PSAs came into widespread use in the late 1940′s with the famous “Only you can prevent forest fires” tagline of Smokey the Bear.
The students are creating PSAs around many issues, including littering, drugs, creativity, oppression, etc.
Riding home from work on the metro last week was both confusing and invigorating – learning your way around a strange city when you don’t speak the language is exquisitely gratifying, especially when you get to stand next to this guy, who played along to accompaniment in the form of a boom box he toted along with a wheelie-suitcase thingy.
Perhaps, you will recognize that tune?
Welp, here’s where I’ll be an Artist-in-Residence in Barcelona in 2009. Watch as Dr. David Penberg introduces this short about the Benjamin Franklin International School:
Around the same time, we each moved from Seattle to different parts of the world : I moved to Alaska and he moved to Mexico City. Over the next 4-5 years, we visited each other regular and I had the good fortune of watching him evolve from a naturally gifted painter into a focused and even more talented artist.
To boot, he’s an amazing educator, the kind of teacher I’m jealous his students get to have. World-traveled, intuitive, imaginative, playful and wise beyond his years – he’s a bona fide compliment to the practice.
Recently, Bergey was featured in Art and Letter, a monthly webzine focused on Architecture, Art and Design.
You can read the interview in its entirety here, if you likey.
He’s our pal and we’re very proud of him : )