Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Professor's Monthly Homework Assignment: The Dog Days of Summer

The Professor of The Curious Professor Z has relaunched her Monthly Homework Assignment! Hooray! The theme of this month is to tell about how we survive the dog days of summer, when it is hot and goths still insist on wearing black!

It is rather funny that my dog days of summer are literally with dogs. Today is the first day of a week when I am dog-sitting three dogs. My parents are on a holiday and those three merry creatures are now my responsibility.

They do have proper names but I've started to call them by nicknames. The eldest is called Dictator, since she is a collie, they are used to shepherd farm animals, and therefore this Dictator tries to lead and herd others. She gets rather worried if the pack is scattered around so she has a way of keeping me in place: she sits on my foot.

Rascal with a toy.
Off my foot, you Dictator!
The second oldest is a miniature schnauzer. This small breed was used to hunt rats and other small inconvenient animals in the country. This particular miniature schnauzer is extremely interested of small furry things and he has quite a killers instinct. He also likes to make trouble. If everything is too quiet, he makes a racket as if he had spotted a stranger lurking on the property and other dogs go along with it howling and running. Therefore his new name is Agitator

Rascal killing the toy
Third dog is the newest and I've actually known him for less than a half a year. He is a normal size schnauzer and he is extremely energetic and impossibly curious about everything. He seems to laugh a little all the time. He sometimes gets a bit of trouble trying to follow mopeds or acting like some humorous action hero. He is called Rascal

Agitator is chewing some sort of a hay. 
Now that I have introduced my entourage, we are off to fight the troubles of Dog days of summer! For the dogs it is rather easy. There is a small fountain in the garden. After the walk in the morning they all ( besides Agitator, he is not fond of water) went to have a little cooling bath. I guess I too could go and splash around the little pool but it would not be that hygienic. Therefore I am to settle with airy short dresses and bikinis underneath. 

Dictator has a tendency to water unsuspecting toes. She takes water in her mouth, walks to the nearest person, asks for petting and then lowers her head. All water pours on the toes or even worse, on clothes!

I'm slightly sorry for this excessive amount of pics of dogs. I guess it's like with babies. Everybody believes their drooling bundle is the cutest thing ever. :D

To survive the dog days of summer, I recommend to eat lots of fruits and use parasols like The Professor in her post! I too own two parasols. The other is white lace (there were no black parasols left) and the other one is from a Chinese shop in Amsterdam, Holland. The dogs were not goth-y, so let me try to make that up to you!

Also a pic of my summer dress. Since I am alone and the mirrors and the light inside are not optimal, you'll just see it hanging on a wall. Sorry about that. :)

The pic is from behind so you can see the upper part is lace. I bought this from EMP, which is a Finnish online store for goth, rock and heavy metal fashion. The hem is uneven, the long parts are ending just above the knee. It is a really nice dress but I've had it over a year now and I've noticed it is no longer so elastic. It has became rather baggy from the waist. That's actually quite great now when it is really hot but this dress is no longer "sharp", meaning I would no longer use it outside home. 

There is a bigger reason than the weather, why I am not having that much goth content in this post. Unfortunately with this horde of dogs it is not wise to use one's favorite dresses. I took all these dog pictures right after the morning walk and the beloved dogs finished the sport pants I wore for the walk with endearing touch, since being photographed was so much fun.

Thanks for reading and do check what other participants have done for Monthly Homework Assignment!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Planning a trip to Budapest and what to see

I am travelling to Budapest, the capital of Hungary, in less than a month. This post is about my goth-y travel plans and if you have a tip, please leave a comment! I would love to know what else one can do in that beautiful city.

Arany Sas Pharmacy Museum

This museum is in the house where the first apothecary of Budapest originally situated. According to tourist information, they have recreated an alchemist's laboratory and there are tons of interesting objects to see.

Semmelweis Museum of Medical History

In the webpage of this museum they state they have one of the richest collections of physician and chemist historical collection. We all know the history of medicine has been rather peculiar and often gory so it would definitely be an interesting place to visit.

Labyrinth of Buda Castle

Apparently they are open 24/7 but if you go there by night, you have to register. That way they know who are lurking in the dark labyrinth!

The Opera

I was to understand that in August there would be a large international opera and ballet festival and there would be numerous visiting groups of dancers and singers performing in the Hungarian State Opera. Alas, there is no mention of any shows in the State Opera's web page or performance calendar. Maybe I do not know how to search the information from the right place? I really want to see an opera or a ballet in there that way I also can see the beautiful opera house from the inside!

Random walking around to admire the architecture

Random walking around is usually the best way to see the city and bump into some unexpected and interesting things one could not find in a tourist information leaflet. Budapest is filled with architecture that interests a goth and there are numerous statues and other pierces of history and art scattered all over the city.

Attending a goth club

The great and mysterious internet has told me that there is a goth club every Friday at Marco Polo Club. It is in the vicinity of our hotel, so it is not a big effort to go and check if the goth night is still happening.

Some art museums and galleries

This should not be a great surprise to those who have read this blog. :)

Have you visited Budapest? Any tips on what one could do there?

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Gothic Art in Spotlight: Eerie photography with needles and pins

About a month ago I introduced to you a sculptor who used fabric as the main material in her works. This time I am going to write about an artist, who mainly works with photography but for the last few years she has started to use needle more and more.

Ulla Jokisalo is a Finnish artist whose exhibition "Intentions - under the Guise of Play" I saw 2011 and I love her work. Jokisalo is a very commendable artist who has also been a professor at the University of Arts and Design (these days it is called Aalto University, it is situated in Helsinki and the neighboring city Espoo, in Finland) I remembered Jokisalo because last week I visited that same museum I saw her work and in the museum's shop I saw a postcard of one of her artworks. It was one of my favorites and you can see it below.


The name of this piece of art is "Ring dance" and the dancing children are actually attached with little pins on the other pigment print, so it is not just a print, those pins are sticking out of it. It looks rather creepy, the children dancing in mid-air in a spooky grey forest and the pins give a little hint of voodoo and black magic, at least it does to me.

Another one I really like is "Inspiration". When I first saw it I did not instantly check the title of the work and the first thing I thought about it was that this is about domestic violence. I guess that tells more about me and my pessimistic point of view than it tells about the artwork "Inspiration". :)

These works of Jokisalo are somewhat special, since the yarn and needles are real and they seem to push towards the viewer and I have seldom seen yarn used in art of photography. The third and last artwork I want to show you is "Neulankantaja" (Carrier of the needle). This headless figure carrying a huge needle is somehow really appealing to me.

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear which one of these artworks is your favorite!

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Gothic Art in Spotlight: Paintings of Flowers and one Messiah

On this Gothic Art in Spotlight I am going to concentrate on recent acquaintances. This means I am going to write about three paintings which I saw this week in two art museums. The artists are not extremely gothic and many of their works could not be categorized as such but I did find these three paintings to my taste.

The firs exhibition I went was in The Gallen-Kallela's museum in the vicinity of Finlands capital. Gallen-Kallela is one of Finnish Art's Golden Age's masters and he has been also well known in the Europe during his time. He had an exhibition together with the famous Edvard Munch in Berlin 1895. The today's exhibition was too concentrating on Berlin and there were five current artists too. One of the painting met my criteria to be shown in this blog:

The artists name is Marcus Eek, he was born in Stockholm, Sweden but he has worked in Berlin a long time. The work's title was "From the Series Burning River", it is made 2014, oil on canvas. The feeling of that work is probably not so forthcoming in that small picture but the paint is slightly shimmering and the colors are from some angles more vivid and darker. It also intrigues my curiosity, why are this bluish flowers a part of the Series Burning river? There was another painting from the same seires too, it was more abstrac-looking and the main color was bright red, like lava.

I am not saying that this Marcus Eek's painting is "goth" but I do think this would look pretty awesome in a modern gothic home with possibly slight vibes to Asian art and aesthetics. You know, rather minimalist black decor with just a few rich details like this painting and some decorative pillows on a couch. That is the reason I introduced this painting, I would want it on my wall if I could afford it!

This painting of Eek is quite large and I believe that is one reason I found it beautiful and impressive. I did not get the measurements but it is at least two meters long and the texture is really rich. In real life one can easily see the 3D effect the oil paint makes on the canvas.

The same 3D is happening even more with the other art works I want to show you in this post. These are to be seen in the heart of the capital Helsinki, at Kunsthalle (An art hall) The artist is Heikki Marila. Marila's paintings are quite literally 3D. Chunks of paint are pushing out of the paintings! With the red and black combination and the earthly theme like flowers the paintings become very physical and to my eyes there is lurking a hint of grotesque.

These paintings were huge, like four meters long. They were massive and that way those red and plush flowers started to look like meat, hanging on the canvas. The whole room was full of them and the two in that picture above are called "Flowers XIX" And "Flowers XXVII". In this paintings one can find allusion to the still life paintings of 17th century so there is a strong reference to Baroque, which with it's excessive and dark artworks is close to the hearts of many goths. Marila's paintings are even a little edgier than the floral arrangements of 17th century, because the paintings are trashed and smudged, the flowers look like they are in the beginning of decay.

Marila had one more painting I kind of liked. "Christ I".

The measurements are 120cm x 100cm, the surface is rough, though not as scattered and scarred looking like on the flower paintings. The colors are strong and this painting is open to several interpretations. In the exhibition leaflet it was stressed that these paintings of Marila are ironic and the humor has a meaning.

I myself am not convinced that this would be the case with the paintings or even half of the paintings in the exhibition. If for example those "Flowers XIX" and "Flowers XXVII" are ironic, what is the target of irony? Is it the art history and still life paintings and if so, why? The same problem is with this "Christ I" the viewer has way too many options to interpret it "ironically" so basically the artwork itself does not necessarily have the quality of irony and satire. Is it ironic towards Christianity, or just the way Jesus Christ is depicted these days with lot less gore and suffering? Or is it like a caricature or smeared for fun saying all religions are stupid?

Visually I think this Christ is pleasant with it's oddities so the flower paintings but I don't think they have some huge social importance via irony. What do you think of all these paintings?