I've finally taken the step of "cross-promoting" this blog by posting it on FB and Instagram.
One reason it took me a long time to take this step is that sticky problem I referenced way back when I re-started this blog after arriving in Barcelona, which is finally wrapping up. It's not yet time to crack open a beer and celebrate, but it's close. More on that later.
The other reason I've never made this blog very widely known is that it is a bit... um... personal? Is that the right word? Philosophical? Long-winded? Who knows... judge for yourself. I used to include elaborate offers to be removed from my email-update list, but no one ever took me up on it. Maybe everyone is too damn polite. Or maybe they actually enjoy it. Who knows... judge for yourself.
If you're reading this because you landed here from FB or Instagram and you want to be included on my email update list, email me at email@example.com
This will be one of those rambling posts, including (among other things) my experience getting a German residency visa, a brief review one of Berlin's signature hot tub / sauna joints, and a bit about how good it finally feels to get back to work (thanks again, Burning Man).
First off, I think there should be a short and catchy word for "to feel ambivalent about."
The progression Hate -> Like -> Love seems inadequate. I propose the word "Biv," which comes from ambivalent. Hate -> Biv -> Like -> Love. That seems better. Maybe it'll catch on...
After Christina and I went through the arduous task of getting our NIEs (or Número Identificación Extranjero, aka Spanish temporary residency card), we felt major paperwork fatigue and the idea of starting over in Germany sounded daunting... but we soon figured out that they don't really let you get away without a residency visa here. Christina and Kodiak are Swedish citizens (yes... I'm jealous!), but as an American, I need a visa. I spoke with a lawyer and learned that, strangely, in Germany it's not quite enough to be married to a European. The lawyer advised me that, in consideration of the fact that Berlin in particular has an expedited visa process for artists (apparently a direct result of an official recognition by the city that art is a valuable cultural resource - go figure!), and the fact that I am actually an artist, my best avenue would be to apply for a visa as an artist. Cool.
I had to assemble a formidable pile of documents including my college diploma, marriage certificate, letters of recommendation, offers of work, and plenty of proof that I am actually an artist. The lawyer thought they'd grant me a year... but I got three! I gotta say it was exciting to get the visa based on my artistic practice.
I had been wanting to sit in some hot water for a while (my hot tub in Taos is actually one of the things I miss most) and so I decided to celebrate the visa by going directly from the Ausländerbehörde to Liquidrom, a well-known hot tub and sauna place near Anhalter Bahnhof. You can't take pictures in there (which I think is appropriate), so here are a few from the web.
I'll keep this short. Basically, the place is amazing... almost. The facility is beautiful. The huge round pool (blue tiles, above) with psychedelic lighting, underwater music, and salt water (so you float) is great. The saunas and the steam-sauna were much nicer than expected. But for me there is nothing to compare to sitting in hot water, especially outside on a cold day, and here... Liquidrom fell way short. There's no f**king hot water there! There is a beautiful outdoor "hot" tub (wood, above), but the water couldn't have been more than about 99.5ºF, or about 37.5ºC, (barely above body temperature) and none of the other "hot" pools exceeded that. What a wasted opportunity! Icelanders and North Americans (and maybe others) have got this right - there's nothing better than sitting outside on a winter day in 104ºF (40ºC) water. But so far I can't find it in Berlin. I give this place a 7/10. Turn up the temperature and it could be 10/10.
Christina and I submitted our Burning Man proposals, just in time. Somehow we both thought we would get plenty of work done on our proposals while in Greece for the holidays - we brought our laptops and other support materials - but we didn't work on them there for even a minute. Which meant that upon returning to Berlin we had about a week, and we needed every bit of it. Those proposals are actually a fair bit of work.
Burning Man ended up accepting two of my LOIs (Letter Of Interest, sort of a preliminary proposal), so I had two full applications to do. I went through a rather agonizing last-minute crisis about whether to even submit one of them, due to the fact that, for some reason, I felt much less invested in it than the other. In the last hours before the deadline I agonized over whether I'd rather BM fund the proposal I felt less strongly about, or fund nothing at all. After consulting several people, and taking a late-night walk to ponder, I decided to submit both proposals... although I'm still not sure it was the right decision.
In any case, we have a month until we hear back about all that and I decided to take advantage of this time and our new relationship with KAOS to finally do a bit of work. The proposal that I feel more invested in, the one I hope they do fund, features two human-like robot faces. Christina helped me see that, in the case that they do fund that one, I will probably feel enough time pressure that I will feel too rushed to give those faces the attention they deserve (recognizing that the face is usually the single most important part of a sculpture). So I've decided to work on them now. If they fund it, I'm ahead of the game. If they don't, I've got a pair of oversized aluminum robot faces. Win-win.
The plan is to sculpt the faces in foam and then sand-cast them in aluminum. I've got a friend here called Jens (mentioned here before, he helped build the prototype for the Hand of Man) who is pretty familiar with aluminum casting, and he's offered to help. If it goes according to plan he and I will build a big furnace at his shop and cast the faces there. Should be interesting.
(Yes, the eyes need a lot of work... yes the nose might be too big... yes yes I'm working on it!)
Switching gears, I want to take a moment to re-visit Germany's ad campaign, imploring people to slow down and stay off their phones while driving.
In both these images, all we see is desperately sad young women, staring directly at us, with superimposed messages "get off the gas" and "hands off your mobile." The implication of course is that these aberrant behaviors have caused the deaths of loved ones, reinforced in one of them by the shoulder clothed in a funereal black suit. I think these ads are super effective, but also works of art.
For the time-being, one of them has become my home screen. Keep in mind that "Handy" means mobile, or cell phone.
Lastly, Kodiak and I made matching rubber-band shooters. Fun!
OK, post-lastly... here we see Kodiak pondering a Keith Haring sculpture...
I think (hope!) he didn't look too closely.
Hasta la vista, compañeros.