Exhibition Invitation

You are invited to an exhibition of my work:

-Pastel drawings: Camino De Santiago, Spain
-Photography: video stills from around the world
-Video screenings: 'Water'(2007), 'Searching for Silent Night'(in progress, 2007),'This Drawing Looks Intelligent'(1999)


Friday 9 February 2007, opening 17:00 pm
Saturday 10 February 2007, 10:00-17:00 hrs


Bridge Guard Residence
Pri Colnici 2

But how does one move on...?

Video still: Exterior House of Terror, Budapest

After writing this week’s log for the
bridgeguard7 blog I decided to repeat and expand here, as there was more to write that belongs on this blog.

Video still: Railway tunnel Hungary.

I dropped off my friend Henriette from The Netherlands at the airport in Budapest and intended to spend the rest of the day filming there. I passed by accident the House of Terror Museum at 60 Andrassy Boulevard, the address where during Nazi and communist times people were interrogated and tortured. I have seen medieval torture rooms and experienced their presentation as odd. Torture implements were displayed as curiosa, the essence of what the tools represented was absent as if such practices belonged to that era only and were no longer relevant. Photos of victims with fresh candles burning below on the facade of The House of Terror Museum caught my attention and signaled a different kind of museum.

Video still: Railway tunnel Hungary.

I had planned to visit Auschwitz in Poland prior to attending Carnival celebrations in The Netherlands, hoping that a good party would dust away any Auschwitz blues. As I was making bookings, a detour via Auschwitz did not eventuate in the schedule. How odd I thought, maybe I am not ready yet. I want to visit Auschwitz to process ‘stuff’; images and emotions that come back again and again that may be relate to a past life experience. They seem to be relevant to this lifetime as well, as if carried over from one life to the next, karma still requiring healing.

Video still: Railway tunnel Hungary.

If that is all a load of rubbish and just wishful thinking of my ego, then that image still sits in my emotional baggage and is maybe just a metaphor relevant to this life. Whatever it is, I would like to explore and let go. Being so ‘close’ to the place where the imagery comes from I am curious to see what may happen when I visit the site.

Video still: Railway tunnel Hungary.

I had no idea though how to recover from possible depressive experience. Finding myself in front of the House of Terror by ‘accident’ seemed an opportunity to find out on a smaller scale. During a recent conversation with a friend, whose life is not all that wonderful, you know; horrible job, tons of stress etc., I could see how she was only focussed on the negative aspects of her life. I encouraged her to try to take notice of one positive or beautiful thing each day as a tool to shift focus. I was wondering if that technique would work after visiting Auschwitz and the House of Terror. So…

Video still: Railway tunnel Hungary.

I went inside (no camera’s allowed so no images here). I said a protective prayer, just in case lost souls might be looking for an opportunity to attach them selves to me, a nasty experience that I do not want to repeat. Very impressed but not overwhelmed I left the Museum and carried walking along the boulevard. I looked at this street differently now, knowing what took place, yet the sun was shining, it was a cold but beautiful winter’s day. I took my camera and started observing through the lens, looking for beauty. It definitely helped me shift my focus. It did not change the past nor my memory of the visit, but it did not dominate the here-and-now and I saw that life went on, but is that enough?

Video still: Railway tunnel Hungary.

I often wondered while watching footage of people celebrating the end of WWII, how they could party knowing that so many did not make it, knowing that there were so many wounds to heal. How does one carry on with life after experiencing so much devastation of Soul? That question intrigues me most of all and will be the focus of my visit to Auschwitz.

Video still: Exit of ailway tunnel Hungary.

What can one do with the anger and resentment towards the perpetrators? Buddhist and related spiritual philosophies hold the answer I think. Understanding and acceptance of karmic relationships and forgiveness concepts is key to overcoming such emotions.

Video still: Old man busking in freezing conditions in Budapest

I gained experience in dealing with festering resentment while walking El Camino. Yet I wonder if anyone (including me) is ever capable of forgiving people who committed the worst thinkable Soul destroying crimes. In one video in the House of Terror a crying victim poses the question: "...but one has to forgive somehow, no?"

Video still: Old man busking in freezing conditions in Budapest

He was grieving, maybe still angry, maybe the wrong time to consider forgiveness, but when is the right time? His question reveals he has the wisdom/awareness of the answer, but he ends with a ‘no’, as if he is not ready yet. Which part of him is not ready, his ego or Soul? Eckhart Tolle in his book ‘A new Earth’ has some interesting thoughts on ego, pain and their relationship.

Video still: Andrassy Boulevard, Budapest.

While living in Chicago an older Bosnian evacuee came up to me in the park one day. Out of the blue and with no English she began to mime vividly how her family was massacred. I was stunned and did not know what to say or mime back. All theories seemed inadequate at that moment. How does one move on when one is not called Mandela, Gandhi or Dalai Lama?

That is a tough question to which I would like to find (and film) an answer.

Video still: End of Andrassy Boulevard, Budapest.

Back on Track

Digital image: forest in Hungary

Walked about 14km through hills on the Hungarian side today with Tomi and Gyuri from Sturovo and some of their Hungarian friends. A great walk scrambling upstream through a narrow gorge next to small waterfalls and sliding on muddy slopes, eventually reaching a hilltop at 700m altitude. Really enjoyed the great company, being outside and walking again. I think I got addicted to walking after El Camino and have missed it. Weather is more like a New Zealand winter, very mild, most days 10c or even more, but that will change next week when some colder weather and snow is forecast. The big storm that plagued Western Europe missed my area.

I have recovered from my flu and the internet connection has finally been permanently fixed with a new router instead of a modem. The connection problem would not go away, but no-one knew what to do about it. After talking to three companies (Tcom, the modem manufracturer and a Mac store) I learned what solution to suggest.

I am flat out now, busy editing video, running a 'studio' weekdays between 3-5 for kids from across the road, which I enjoy very much and they do too. (See the bridgeguard7 blog for images). I am using my art facilitation skills to challenge their set minds and mindsets about creativity and their creative abilities. I get them to make some art (they all draw 3 blue clouds and a yellow sun in the left hand top corner), then I scan it into the computer and in a collaborative process we play with their work. This process will be become the centre piece for my final exhibition here just before I leave, hoping to challenge local mind set about these marginalised kids. It is a bit like doing Art Compass work again, not what I had intended to do here, but it is giving me great joy actually and I saw/felt the need for it. The kids take to it like ducks to water.

On Friday 9th February there will be an exhibition opening here of digital stills from my video's. I have been printing series of 7 images. (I am the 7th Bridge Guard Resident and report weekly (7 days/week) about this place on the bridge blog. I hope to have two video's ready for screening during the opening as well, a small 5 minute video called 'Holy Water' about people collecting water in Lourdes and a longer one, still in progress, about street street musicians in Vienna called 'Searching for Silent Night'.

I am really enjoying my time here and feel that projects are starting to eventuate after a slow start. I am in good spirits even though I sleep lousy, no idea why, very restless body, maybe I need to do more exercise and tire my body out a bit. I feel I have surrendered to being on this journey, feel more relaxed, happy and very excited about what will come after my residency (starting to dream and plan).

I have no intention yet to return to New Zealand, have filming and editing to do in many places, places, cultures and adventures to experience... and a life to enjoy. When I cycle or walk through town I catch myself singing, every time, something I had lost a bit in New Zealand. Locals look funny at me sometimes (I never see or hear any of them singing), but I don't care.

I had a ball at the annual local ball last weekend, and realised that I miss opportunities to dance. The music was... well eh, no better say nothing, but it was great to see locals enjoying themselves for a change. I thoroughly enjoyed joining in. Had quietly hoped there would be some traditional dance and music culture here, but there is none, so time to create it myself. I decided to use another old skill: teaching folk dancing. I will organise one or more evenings here of teaching and dancing using my large living room that has an excellent dance floor, as a party room. This sleepy and depressed town can do with a bit of umpf, well at least I do , I want to celebrate life and anyone interested can join me in the fun. Hoping to get some music from friends in The Netherlands as mine is in storage in New Zealand. Art and dance have always served me as an excellent bridge to cross cultural and language boundaries, and that is beginning to happen here too (much easier and more effective than trying to learn Hungarian).

Digital image: the slow local bus that took us back to Esztergom after the walk. It looks fast coz' I wanted it to be fast. Time to get going... got things to do...

PS voor Rob Van Boxtel: I do not have your email.

Birthday Celebrations

23:59:50 o’clock, 30 December 2006: the countdown starts for my fiftieth birthday, a birthday that will end 24 hours later with the countdown for the start of the New Year. A chilling wind blows through St. Stephens Square in central Vienna, the spot where I watch the hands of the clock move on to twelve. There is something in the air Vienna that makes my soul sing. Maybe it is not in the air, maybe it is in the earth, or maybe it is in both. It feels good to be here and stand next to the cathedral. Its tall Gothic spire seems to connect heaven and earth, the mundane and the divine creating perfect harmony, like an axis mundi. There are no firework, no crowds, no champagne (yet), just me and my shadow (it is almost full moon), by choice. I don’t feel lonely but very happy really, content with myself and turning 50/21. I do not linger for long. It is too cold and time to walk ‘home’ and sleep. Tomorrow promises to be a great day, just because I say so.

Video still: feast of colour, Vienna.

I wake up late not because of my old age, of course not! I walked all over Vienna yesterday. I can’t believe my eyes the sky is a perfect New-Zealand-blue, how amazing, how appropriate. It is not crisp or cold but unseasonably balmy +10c (50F).

Video still: Hundertwasser Cafe, Vienna.

My host Horst walks me most of the way to my first destination for the day: Hundertwasser's KunstHausWien. My rationale for the visit is that it would be the perfect day to photograph his colourful work. I enter a café in a state-housing block designed by Hundertwasser. First I watch a documentary about this unusual man who, just like me, is an artist-architect.

Video still: Hundertwasser architecture and the koru flag, Vienna.

Hundertwasser moved from Austria to New Zealand where he died some years ago. The alternative koru flag he designed for New Zealand flies on top of the KulturHaus. I suddenly realise that the essence of New Zealand has symbolically entered my birthday through his work and his connection with New Zealand. My smile widens.

Video still: filming in a toilet, but hey, it is a famous Hundertwasser toilet, Vienna.

I gather the courage to begin filming my birthday as planned. Outside KunstHausWien I approach the first of many tourists who I ask to say ‘happy birthday’ in their native language for the camera. It being New Years Eve, an unusual day of the year, people are in a festive mood and oblige.

Video still: Me being filmed filming, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

Hundertwasser was a humanistic artist and architect with an idealistic philosophy that attracted much criticism from fellow architects. They had to criticise him, otherwise they would by default agree with him and would need to start designing more human friendly environments. He did not give into their pressure to conform.

Video still: some of my party guests, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

I love his art, and admire his inspirational courage to be different and authentic. It feels so good to be in an environment created by him. His use of colour, materials, textures and organic shapes touches my Soul that responded with singing and more smiling.

Video still: opera diva, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

It is getting dark and time to walk to the ‘Silversterpfad’ (New Years Eve Path), a trail connecting 11 music stages and the many in-between sausage and sect stands. There seem to be millions of people in the streets, all determined to have a good night. This is my biggest birthday party ever, yeah!

Video still: disco diva, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

I love dancing and music. I like a variety of music that ideally would be part of any good birthday party. This year I find it all, live (!) and for free. Strauss, opera, samba, 70’s disco, and later at a private party fabulous (recorded) Balkan folk music. People let go of their inhibition and dance in the streets, what a joy to see.

Video still: dance, dance, dance, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

I film passing a bakery shop window as it reminds me of my father’s bakery. New Years Eve was one of the busiest trading days of the year and us kids always had to help out. I enjoyed those busy days generally as it turned our family and bakery staff into a hardworking well-oiled energetic team. On New Years Eve I liked it less as it always interfered with my birthday celebrations.

Video still: the Italian bakery customer, Vienna.

This bakery is packed with tourists. An Italian customer bangs his head against the shop window as he films me filming him, and we crack-up laughing. I step inside, and ask him to say happy birthday in Italian for me. He and his friends burst into a ‘happy birthday to you’ in Italian instead.

Video still: outdoor ballroom chandeliers, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

I film passing a model railway shop too, a reminder of my love for building and playing with miniature models. I still have trains, houses etc. stored in suitcases, just in case one day I might like to play again. One is never to old to play… so I like to think. This day I have a ball playing with my camera, filming people dancing and having a great time in the streets of Vienna.

Video still: a gay waltz, Vienna can handle it, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

The noise and smell of firecrackers and rockets intensifies as midnight approaches. For me they always symbolise New Years Eve and thus my birthday.

Video still:fireworks flying, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

I was born at an intersection that was the gathering point for the people in my neighbourhood after the stroke of midnight. Locals would burn their Christmas trees on a huge bonfire in the middle of the street and the tons of fireworks would fill the street with smog. I felt quite strange the first time I experienced Guy Fawkes in New Zealand, all these fireworks, yet it was not my birthday, very confusing.

Video still: samba, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

10 more seconds and… Prosit Neujahr!!! My birthday is over (lip), but the party is not. All hell breaks lose with fireworks going off left, right and centre. Champagne bottles break too, time to get out of this madhouse and go to a gay party at Eric’s house, the guy I stayed with two weeks ago. I dance to my hearts content to exotic Balkan music, not the kind of music you expect at a gay party, but I am not complaining, I love that stuff.

Video still: 21 and having a good time, Silvesterpfad, Vienna.

Seeing some familiar faces of people I met two weeks ago made up for missing all my friends and family who I would have liked to have with me today. I miss them, but that does not stop me from having the best birthday ever.

Video still: now is the hour..., Vienna.

Especially for all those who would have enjoyed sharing this special birthday with me I have included many images that I intend to turn into a little movie one day for all to see. Oh, and last but not least: happy New Year to you all. XXX, Marcel

Video still: Stephan's Platz, Vienna.