rome sight-seeing: MAXXI

laundry day!

today was a company off-day because saturday is Republic Day, so yay to a long weekend! and what sweetened the pot was that I was completely clueless of it until thursday morning when one colleague asked whether i was going to capitalize on the long weekend to head off somewhere. one of the rules of happiness: if you don’t expect something good and it happens, you derive much more happiness. =) let’s all live with less expectations and consequently, more joyful experiences eh?

but well i didn’t plan anything fancy. just a trip down to the MAXXI, the museum of 21st century arts, which was a welcome change from seeing renaissance churches and ancient ruins. =) set far away from the maddening tourist crowd, MAXXI seems also slightly out of place in what is a really quiet, nondescript residential neighboring. but once you step in through the gates, you get a refreshing whiff of tasteful design and a beautiful exterior play space for kids to play and interact and for parents to lie back , bask in the sun and relax.

i love such a concept of a museum to be honest — to double up as a public space where the public can interact with exhibits and not treat “art” as merely something that is encased in a high security frame with ubiquitous “do not touch” signs. MAXXI exudes an air of friendly amicableness and lightness, which continues on inside the building, with ergonomic curves as the predominant architectural theme.

modern and sleek. i want those sofas in my house next time. haha

architecture aside, MAXXI showcases some really cool exhibits that makes you think. I think a part of the museum appeal is that you can go by yourself and not feel any bit lonely or ill-at-ease, because all the artworks are like friends wanting to talk to you and share their point of view. its an enriching experience indeed. my favourite exhibits would be doris salcedo’s plegaria muria and giorgio andreotta calò’s pitch black pinhole room.

plegaria muria (photo courtesy here)

both exhibits take up entire rooms and swallow the observer up within their art-spaces. plegaria muria is a sobering exhibit of multiple tables stacked on top of tables with soil in between and green grass growing from the top table, signifying the graves of the many “statistical” deaths in Columbia, in bid to restore some semblance of humanity to the lives, hopes and dreams lost. observers navigate through the haphazardly arranged tables, almost as though navigating through a maze, with the austerity of the design and just the repetition in pattern swallowing them into this art-space.

giorgio andreotta calo’s exhibit similar swallows the observer up, but this time in a completely black, dark room (unintentionally i guess), in order to create a gigantic pinhole camera (where the viewer is now inside the camera), projecting the scenery around the museum into this dark room, and using water below to create the righted-up image through reflection. it’s a truly immersive experience – its really pitch black initially and you have to grope at the railings the enter (guided by a guide) and there is a true ganzfeld sensation until u approach the main gallery and see the reflected image. to be honest, i initially thought the image was so drawing, and was astounded when it was explained to me that it was a actual picture of the scenery outdoors. pretty wild!

all in all, a fruitful day. enough to make cheewei (nate) ng seethe with jealousy i suppose. haha. =)



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