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A Bout du Souffle (Longing for a Vacation)

Last night in a company of several translators we discussed the fact that Jean-Luc Godard’s title, A Bout du Souffle, is not correctly translated in either Russian, or English. The original title indicates that the protagonist is about to have the last breath; the translation suggests that he is doing something, barely breathing. It may be hard to grasp the difference, but it does exist.

The mis-translation is quite applicable in my case because I have been working on a project for over a year now, and I feel veeery tired. I hope I can get a vacation soon, for I am very glad to be engaged in this project, so I need to recharge the batteries.

In the meantime, just to give you a heads-up about what I’ve written/done and may be of use to you here are some links to Qype reviews (which are not getting posted directly to the blog for some reason):

Cathedral on the Blood (Yekaterinburg)

Heaton Park (Prestwich)

Manchester Craft and Design Centre (Manchester)

Central Library (Manchester)

Olivier Morosini Hairdressing (Manchester)

Lomonosov Moscow State University (Moscow)

The Albert Memorial (London)

I’m also in the process of compiling a couple of Russian guides for Qype; in the meantime, here are some I did in the past:

Best places to write in Manchester

Manchester Public Transport

Manchester Streets

Monuments in Manchester

Moscow Museums

Northern Quarter

Parks and Squares in Manchester

Marc Chagall, Window to the Garden

Last but not least, an exhibition of little-known works by Marc Chagall is open at the Tretyakov Gallery until 30 September. It features his illustrations to My Life autobiography, etchings to the Bible, The Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, and Lafontin’s Fables, the ceramic 6-piece table set for his daughter’s marriage, as well as many little-known paintings and collages. The exhibition is generously augmented by the artefacts of Jewish everyday life between the second half of 19th and early 20th cc.: menoras, cups, hanukkiahs, painted wall rugs, sketches of decorated tomb stones, and even a marriage contract. The exhibition is accompanied with a catalogue. If you wonder, I’ve been there this week and was very pleased. The display celebrates Chagall’s 125th birthday anniversary and comes as a part of the Literature and Language Year between Russia and France.

Qype: Central House of the Artists in Moskva

Opened in November 1979, the Central House of the Artists sits opposite the famous Gorky Park and can be reached from Park Kultury or Oktyabr’skaya metro stations. It is also within the easy reach from Treatyakov Gallery (the main collection) and the Red October chocolate factory that is now a coveted location for business and creative professionals.

The Central House of the Artists was conceived as a place that hosts and fosters a dialogue in various creative fields, from painting and architecture to design and fashion. Unsurprisingly, throughout 1980-90s the building saw exhibitions of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Francis Bacon, Giorgio Morandi, Salvador Dali, Yves Saint Laurent, and Karl Bryullov. The CHA regularly hosts concerts and fairs. The last 15 years have witnessed a slight shift towards event-hosting, and the Central House of the Artists has welcomed such annual events, as Non/Fiction Book Fair, Art Salon (the latest has just finished on March 25), Russian International Open Book Festival, Antiques Salon, Art Moscow, Arch Moscow (an architecture-centred event), the Architecture Biennale, Design and Advertising (upcoming from 10 to 13 of April 2012), and Moscow Design Week (2010, 2011).

The building consists of 5 floors, with a multimedia centre on the lower ground floor, and the main facilities (cafe, cloackroom and toilets) on the ground floor. There are also a conference hall and a cinema. In front of the building is Museon, an open air exhibition of sculptural works. The entrance costs 200RUB (6.90USD).

Qype: The Seahorse Restaurant in Llandudno

OK, we all agree it’s pricey, but that’s the price you charge for a life-long passion! In fact, it’s not too bad, bearing in mind the run you get for your money. This is a family restaurant set up by a northern lad who has always been passionate about sea and fish. Quite often you get served what has been caught by the owner himself. I went there by chance, having climbed up the Great Orme and in need for nice food upon my descent… and since I love seafood I thought I’d go in. I had goats cheese with raspberry sauce and currants for a starter, and for the main course I chose a dish from the board menu: the delicious monkfish wrapped in parma ham served on sundried tomato risotto. This is the owner’s own recipe, and it was one of the most unique meals I had had. For a desert I ordered a strawberry cheesecake. I also tried Welsh whisky, the owner recommended Penderyn Sherrywood Whisky which, he said, would suit me better as a woman. Indeed, it is softer compared to other whiskys, with warm, ‘woody’ undertones.

The restaurant is located in a lovely street up from Llandudno Pier, so you can visit it before going for a walk on the Pier and the Promenade, or after you have had one. Needless to say, I will visit it again next time I’m in Llandudno.

Svetlana Konegen: Nome, Cose, Citta

The exhibition by Svetlana Konegen “Nome. Cose. Citta” (Names. Things. Cities) follows several Italian towns where the lnguist travelled

I recently went to the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow, and one of the exhibitions currently on display is a show of photographs made with an iPhone by a renowned Russian TV broadcaster, Svetlana Konegen, Nome, Cose, Citta. Born and bred in Saint Petersburg, Svetlana eventually moved to Moscow where she landed a spot on TV with her own programme. I gather that she must now be dividing her time between Moscow and Italy, the latter being the native country of her husband.

Franco Moroni, Antonio Geusa, Svetlana Konegen (image: RDH)

The exhibition by Svetlana Konegen Nome. Cose. Citta (Names. Things. Cities) follows several Italian towns where Svetlana travelled. She wonders as to exactly what attracts Russians to Italy, concluding that this is a kind of Paradise Regained, especially as far as the artists are concerned. Nikolai Gogol spent years in Rome, Alexander Ivanov travelled throughout Italy, Joseph Brodsky is buried in Venice. It is possible, Svetlana says, that in the process of exploring this country the object and subject constantly swap places: a Russian is constructed by Italy in the same way – and probably at the same time – as Italy is constructed by a Russian. Yet, as far as art is concerned, thanks to modern day technology it has become a truly intergral part of life, so just as David Hockney paints with his iPhone, Svetlana, a classical linguist, has used the same gadget to compose an illustrated diary of fleeting memories, images, and experiences that imbue the Epicurean, Senecan, Renaissance, and 1960s themes. The exhibition is curated by Antonio Geusa and is on display until February 26, 2012.

The photo that captivated me the most was the one to which I couldn’t possibly fail to respond. Having been trained in Medieval and Early Modern History, I first noticed the Latin words. It never registered with me before that Svetlana studied Classical Philology, so at the museum I was simply “impressed”. Later when I realised it was not particularly strange I still marvelled at the fact that there was a place for a Latin dictionary in Svetlana’s life (we obviously have to assume that it was Svetlana, not her husband or somebody else, who was reading this dictionary). What is more peculiar, however, is that this must be a 19th c. Russian edition, or its 20th c. reprint, to judge by the typeface and the Russian language style that was in use before the Revolution.

Frankly, out of all photographs this is probably the most telling and prompting to be contemplated. With a state-of-the-art iPhone in her hand, a 21st century woman is touring through Italy with a 19th c. Russian edition of Latin dictionary. It is as if she is trying to revive the journey of the 19th c. Russians to pay an hommage to the birthplace of the Western imperial culture, the Western law, and much of the art and philosophy. The photo is somehow in sync with the recent years’ fascination with the Russian 19th c., Dostoyevsky, nobility, monarchy, and so on. Whereas the English Grand Tour was mostly about visiting Italy, Russians seem to have always been slightly more attracted to Germany, primarily due to the Universities, so the Russian Grand Tour had its modifications. Yet Italy fascinated the Russians, even though not all were particularly impressed, say, Alexander Blok.

And the page with the words on it is also strangely telling, once you start thinking about it. The words are “consectatio” (pursuit), “consectatrix” (a pursuing female), “consectio” (dismembering), “consector” (to continuously pursue), “consecutio” (consequence), “consenesco” (to grow old). While both Russia and Italy age, Russians are still pursuing Italy as the epitome of Paradise on Earth. Some brave the Venetian vapours, others the Milanese rains, still others bask in the Napolitan sun or chill out in the chic environment of Sardinia, all for the chance to have the glory and luxury of the former Empire to rub off on them.

Et in consectatione eius consenescent?

Qype: Multimedia Art Museum in Moskva

This section of the Multimedia Art Museum is located in the same place as the House of Photography, so naturally many exhibitions are geared towards Photography as the main art medium. The latest few shows included, in no particular order,
Allegoria Sacra, a morphed video installation by the Russian art group, AES+F, vaguely inspired by an eponymous painting by Giovanni Bernini, serving as a conclusion to their series of explorations of modern society, the nature of luxury, and the responsibilities and drawbacks it entails;
– an exhibition of Italian photos made by a well-known Russian broadcaster Svetlana Konegen with her iPhone;
– a demonstration of a photoarchive of the Kommersant publishing house, trailing the Russian politics, art, and life through the last 15 years;
– a showcase of Stanley Kubrick photographs made between 1945 and 1950;
– a “Photographs and Texts” show of Taryn Simon projects, including a 2002 project, The Innocents, that followed several Americans who were unlawfully sentenced for the crimes they didn’t commit (with a short documentary accompanying the show);
– “Life in movement” selection of photos made at the Moscow and St. Petersburg almshouses for elderly actors and rehabilitation centres for disabled children, supported by the Artist Charity Foundation, headed by the well-known Russian actors.

As you may gather, Multimedia Art Museum is dedicated to probing and exploring “difficult” social issues, be it disabled children, the elderly, the innocent prisoners, or indeed the stuff people try to “smuggle” to the U.S. The interior of the museum befits the mission: the white halls of all seven storeys provide the ambience and undistracting setting, in which to consume the food for thought and eye.

Located in the very centre of Moscow, in the historic Ostozhenka Street, the Museum is best reached from Kropotkinskaya metro station, rather than Park Kultury. Moscow is still in the early stages of adapting itself to the needs of the disabled citizens and visitors, but the MAM makes you feel at home in any health condition: cue in glass elevators, convenient staircases, a nice cafe in the lower ground floor, spacious halls, soft flooring, and an altogether cool environment. Since this section of the Multimedia Art Museum is dedicated to Photography, which is accessible regardless of language, it is a fantastic choice if you are on a flying visit to Moscow and don’t want to queue outside the Pushkin Museum ;-P

Tickets cost 250RUB (5GBP) for adults, 150RUB (3GBP) for students, 50RUB (1GBP) for pensioners and children. Admission is free for disabled visitors.

Qype: Gorki Park in Moskau

“I follow the Moskva/ Down to Gorky Park,/ Listening to the wind of change”. Yes, one of the well-loved Moscow parks, named after the revolutionary writer Maxim Gorky, was commemorated by the rock band Scorpions in 1990s. Where London has Waterloo Sunset, Moscow has The Wind of Change.

All jokes aside, this massive amusement park stretches along the bank of the Moskva River, from Park Kultury to Vorobyovy Gory stations, approximately. The famous Neskushny Sad is casually incorporated into the vast resort area in the heart of a megalopolis. Although amusement facilities and walking areas form the greater part of the Gorky Park, it is often used to host concerts and events. In particular, it is one of the favourite places for high school graduates to go after a school matinee.

During winter season an ice rink is open to public. The entry to the park is free, using amusement facilities and ice rinks varies in cost.

The Gorky Park can be reached from Oktyabrskaya or Park Kultury underground stations. If you are walking from Park Kultury station, you will be taking the Krymsky (Crimean) Bridge, from where splendid views open on to the Moskva River, Frunzenskaya Embankment, the Academy of Sciences, and the Moscow State University. Across the bridge is the Central Artist House, a place for exhibitions of contemporary art and design.


Qype: Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

This is one of the central places to enjoy classical art in Moscow. In 2012 the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts marks its 100th anniversary. In these hundred years the museum hosted an impressive array of exhibitions of international artists – Andy Warhol, El Greco, Rembrandt, Salvador Dali, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, and many others. There are currently exhibitions of Caravaggio and William Blake.

The permanent collection boasts true gems of world art. There are impressive rooms of antique sculpture and architecture, as well as a collection of Mesopotamian and Egyptian remains. A unique selection of early-Byzantine icons and mosaics morphs into Medieval and Renaissance European paintings, that later change to 17-18th cc. paintings and sculptures. Speaking of sculpture, in one of the halls you will see full-size copies of the famous interpretations of David: one by Donatello, and another by Michelangelo.

Still, the centrepiece of the collection at the Pushkin Museum is a selection of French Impressionists, painstakingly and lovingly assembled by the 19th c. Russian businessmen. These include Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Paul Cezanne, Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso. Speaking of Picasso, Ivan Morozov personally went to Paris to purchase the Portrait of Ambroise Vollard; and in the museum you can see The Girl on the Ball and several other “blue period” paintings.

The museum has long explored the connection between art and fashion. In the early 2000s they hosted an exhibition of sculptures by Gina Lollobrigida. Recently there was an exhibition of Christian Dior dresses.

The building in classical style can be reached from Kropotkinskaya or Borovitskaya metro stations; it stands right across the road from the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. It is flanked by the Museum of Private Collections where visitors are treated to a beautiful selection of engravings and etchings; the Gallery of the 20th c. art of Europe and America; and the State Nicholas Roerich Museum.

The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts has a cozy, if small, cafe, and a bookshop with a wide selection of exhibition catalogues, information booklets, art books, and souvenirs. The entry normally costs 300RUB (around 10EUR).

Unfortunately, for all the great things mentioned above, there is one drawback. Due to the ticketing system and the cloackroom size, the museum is notorious for serpentine queues around its building during the high-profile exhibitions. Such exhibitions tend to break visitor records: the recent Dali exhibition attracted nearly 300 thousand people. They also produce the mentioned serpentines that make the Russians appear no less fond of queueing that the Brits. Regardless, hundreds of people still mark time in the street for a chance to visit the museum. Back in 2002, I personally spent 5.5 hours in the February cold to see the Rouen Cathedral series by Claude Monet…


Qype: Police and Fire Station in Manchester


I am always amazed by the grandeur of civic architecture of the 19th c. Take this lovely vast terracota building on the corner of London Road. It occupies a triangular space circumscribed by adjacent streets and used to house, believe it or not, the Police and Fire Station. The building was erected between 1904 and 1906, and you can spot some fine architectural and decorative details throughout the facade. It was described as the finest fire station in the world, with which epithet one can hardly disagree.


Qype: Alan Turing Monument in Manchester


The seated statue of the father-founder of computer science can be found in the middle of Sackville Gardens. The pensive professor gazes at the flowerbed in front on him, holding an apple. There seems to be little special in how Turing is represented: an almost typical genius, humble and lost in thought. The apple is thus the most peculiar part of the monument. It refers to Isaac Newton, the father of modern math and physics. It is also the symbol of forbidden love, and Turing’s statue is well placed by Canal Street. Indeed, Turing was gay, and it was his sexuality that reportedly led the Government to doubt his integrity in keeping the state secrets intact. Turing committed suicide by injecting an apple with cianide – another reason why he is depicted holding the fruit. It is amazing to contemplate the role an object (an apple on this occasion) can play in one’s life.


Qype: Cafe Muse in Manchester

ManchesterEating & DrinkingCafes & Coffee Shops

Although a part of Manchester Museum, Cafe Muse is open to everyone who ventured that far into Oxford Road. Don’t be misled by the rotund portico with columns: a cool, fresh, and rather minimalist interior awaits inside. I didn’t notice anything particularly funky on the menu, but my salmon with scrambled egg was well cooked. I guess it may be visited by students and professors more often now that the old refectory, next to Students’ Union, has gone.


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