The enormous Barbican Centre complex is only about a 10 minute walk from our flat, so yesterday I finally checked it out.
After this area was destroyed during the Blitzkrieg, the City of London Corporation started to plan and build this enormous complex in the 1960’s, when the Brutalist style of architecture was popular. Officially opened by the Queen in 1982, it is one of the largest arts venues in Europe and includes residential and commercial properties.
Currently at the Barbican, there’s an interesting installation by a Chinese conceptual artist, Song Dong. Entitled Waste Not, it’s an exhibit that includes many of the items his mother frugally saved during her difficult life in China.
Having suffered poverty and uncertainty as a result of the Cultural Revolution, his mother never threw away anything, including bottle caps and old toothpaste tubes.
Dolls and stuffed animals were displayed upside down or sideways, perhaps to show the exhaustion and turmoil in Song Dong’s mother’s life.
Reminded me of those hoarding TV shows! By encouraging his mother to use the items as part of an art exhibition, Song Dong was able to help her find meaning in her collections. Thought provoking exhibit…. What is our connection to the things that clutter our lives? Maybe the next time I’m overwhelmed with clutter, I’ll just think of it as art.
In the evening, I returned to the Barbican to go to a BBC Symphony Orchestra concert. I heard an amazing young pianist, Jan Lisiecki, perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, and the orchestra performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 after the intermission. Because I bought my ticket at the last minute, I decided to get a seat in the center, 2nd row. I was about 6 feet from the soloist. Interesting perspective – good views of the conductor’s ankles and the underside of the piano, but also enjoyed seeing the intensity on the musicians’ faces. Don’t think I’ll ever sit in seats like that again, though! Also, I always seem to get stuck next to people who need a lesson in audience etiquette! Please… Never take off your shoes during a concert, especially if your feet smell. I wonder if it distracted the musicians. Also, no chatting during performances, especially when you are only 6 feet from the soloist! End of rant.