posted in: oslo 0

the nobel peace center is currently showing an exhibit called transit, a photo display of refugees in different countries. the most interesting facts presented in the exhibit were the numbers of refugees in various countries (in 2010):

  • Refugees from Columbia: 454 088
  • Refugees in Columbia from other countries: 300
  • Refugees from Afghanistan: 2 917 535
  • Refugees in Afghanistan from other countries: 49
  • Refugees from Syria: 23 484
  • Refugees in Syria from other countries: 1 529 655
  • Refugees from Bangladesh 12 258
  • Refugees in Bangladesh from other countries: 228 586
  • Refugees from Yemen: 2 554
  • Refugees in Yemen from other countries: 172 220
  • Refugees from Norway: 10
  • Refugees in Norway from other countries: 54 465

Gotta wonder who the refugees from Norway are–and who would flee to Afghanistan…

TRANSIT: until 22 January
Nobel Peace Center
Open every day 10.00-18.00
Admission: 80 kr

16 September: Oslo Night of Culture
8 October: Celebrating the Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2011
8-10 October: for celebrations of the Nansen Year
12-30 December: for celebrations of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2011

PLEASE NOTE: On Friday 7 October at 11.00 you can watch the announcement of the new Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the Nobel Peace Center.


posted in: oslo 0

I’ve visited the Oslo opera house many times but have never been tempted enough by any of its concerts to actually see the main music hall inside. So when they held an open house this weekend, I jumped at the chance to go visit.

It’s beautiful inside, lots of smooth lines and dark wood, and I really liked the “centerpiece” (shown above): it’s a simple but elegant skylight—though perhaps that can only be appreciated after you’ve been exposed to the garish 70’s style chandelier at the Met and at the New York City Opera.

the folks at Operaen claim that its acoustics are among the top 3 in the world. while I don’t know if that’s true, this building is definitely the architectural highlight of Oslo. gorgeous!

lust & last

posted in: travel 0

there are lots of ads around Stockholm consisting of pixelated 18th-century oil paintings—a marketing ploy by the national museum for their lust & last (“lust & vice”) exhibit.

according to the museum:

The exhibition Lust & Vice shows examples of how sexuality, virtue and sin have been depicted in art since the 16th century – from an age when the Church preached that sexual contact was only permitted within wedlock to today’s questioning of who erotic art is created for. A total of 200 works are on show from the museum’s own collections, a mix of paintings, drawings, sculptures and applied art. You can also see a genuine chastity belt!

the exhibit was not bad. the most amusing piece was a two-sided painting by Martin van Meytens called “The Kneeling Nun”…

front side
back side

(painting images from albherto’s blog)

Nasjonalmuséet i Stockholm
Södra Blasieholmshamnen 2
111 48 Stockholm, Sverige

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Thursday 11 am – 8 pm.
Wednesday, Friday –Sunday 11 am – 5 pm.
Monday closed.

Admission: 120 kroner

how Ai Weiwei got his name

posted in: china, words 0

well, this is according to Wikipedia, but it’s cool if true: Ai Weiwei’s father was a famous Chinese poet called Aì Qīng (艾青). But that wasn’t his real name; his original name was Jiang Zhenghan (蒋正涵), styled Jiang Haicheng (蒋海澄)–in addition to his numerous pen names.

Anyway, this poet was tortured and imprisoned in 1932 for opposing the Kuomintang (KMT) party. While in prison, he wrote his first book Da Yan River–My Wet-nurse (《大堰河——我的保姆》)… But while writing his surname (Jiang) he stopped at the “艹”, because he resented sharing the same surname as KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek (“蔣介石”). So he finished the rest of the word with an X. This happens to be the Chinese character ai (), and since the rest of his name, Hai Cheng, meant qing (, the color blue), he adopted the pen name Ai Qing.

sounds like an interesting family.

Self-portrait by Ai Weiwei: its caption(草泥马挡中央, "grass mud horse covering the middle") sounds almost the same in Chinese as 肏你妈党中央, "Fuck your mother, the Communist party central committee". (The Australian via Wikipedia)

the artist is present

posted in: new york 0


  • A NY Times article about sitting with Marina
  • MoMA is posting portraits of those who sit across the artist on their Flickr feed, here:
  • MoMA’s current exhibit, Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, created quite a stir recently–resulting in the museum having to revoke one man’s 30-year membership. I read the New Yorker’s backgrounder on Abramovic a couple of months ago and looked forward to seeing this exhibit (though it does seem a bit like idol worship/megalomania when the actual artist is present at a retrospective). Above is Marina Abramovic herself, sitting face-to-face with some random person in the audience, which she has agreed to do everyday for the duration of the exhibition at MoMA. The remaining exhibits comprise a performance retrospective covering over 40 years of Abramovic’s work, using live performers to recreate past pieces–pieces that often require performers to be nude. Hence the hubbub: naked people + the immense crowds usually at MoMA = rowdiness.

    Despite all the publicity, the exhibit is definitely worth a visit. To enter, you need to walk through a narrow hall flanked by two naked people facing each other. And it was really narrow: it’s not possible to pass through without brushing against *both* performers. The idea is to make the audience tense as they squeeze through the entrance, but also causing a sense of relief upon reaching the open space on the other side.

    As opposed to the entrance, I found the rest of the exhibit to be more tense for me: they consisted of videos or live performances of Abramovic’s other pieces that were more about self-flagellation than anything else. But I suppose that’s what makes the retrospective so good: whether you like it or not, it’s impossible to not have an emotional reaction.

    Exhibit ends May 31. On second thought, it is kinda cool that the Artist Is Present…

    variations on glenn gould

    posted in: montreal 0

    oh yeah, I forgot to mention I went to the variations on glenn gould concert at radio-canada yesterday.

    it was kinda lame. I was expecting to be able to see the montreal pianist perform–but when we arrived there was nary a piano in sight. we watched a video montage of the 6-pianists-in-their-6-cities with crappy video and cheesy landscape shots fading into the video feed for the whole two hours. (oh yeah, and TWO HOURS? they played all the repeats.)

    interesting idea. just not well executed.

    blues bar

    posted in: bangkok 0

    it’s ridiculous how easy it is to find cute bars, cafes, and good music around bangkok. on samsen road five minutes from my place, there’s this tiny blues bar–small enough that it’s amazing the band can fit in there. the bar is usually packed (spilling out to the street), but I managed to take a pic on a fairly empty Sunday…

    blues on samsen road
    blues on samsen road

    but even on slow nights the band is great (and I’m not really a blues person). the first time I came by there was this 13-year old bassist that was just phenomenal. anyone staying in the khao san/banglamphu area must check out this place!

    “The Blues Bar”, west side of Samsen road, just across the klong bridge north of Phra Sumen. Shows start nightly at 21.30.

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