Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Art’

Paris, City of Queues

November 12, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places, Traveling 5 Comments →

You don’t need the Paris museum pass. Go to Mariage Freres at the Place de la Madeleine, buy three tins of tea instead.

Serves us right for trying to be practical while on vacation (from which we will need a vacation). We bought a Paris Museum Pass, which promises that we can make unlimited visits to the museums and that we don’t have to fall in line—we can go straight in by just flashing the pass.

louvre queue
Lines at the Louvre. Go on the first Sunday of the month, when admission is free. In the dead of winter, when there are fewer visitors. Then you can imagine that the zombie apocalypse has happened and you are trapped in the Louvre. There are worse fates.

We bought a 2-day pass for 42 euros, with the intention of cramming the 7 exhibitions we wanted to see after we got back from the Austrian sticks. True, experience tells us that we can go to just one or two museums before we get art overload and our brain shuts down, but we figured that by averting our eyes and ignoring everything but the shows we wanted to see, we could fool ourself into staying alert.

fondation queue
The Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in the middle of nowhere, the Bois de Boulogne. Note to Ricky and Raul: We went. The building is the event, as Noel would put it. The collection: Non-event of the year, possibly the decade.

Immediately we found out that the museums we went to were, for some reason or other, not covered by the blasted pass. The Paris Museum Pass IS NOT HONORED at privately-owned museums and temporary exhibitions at public museums. It is not good for the Marchel Duchamp exhibit at the Pompidou, the Garry Winogrand show at Jeu de Paume, the newly-opened Fondation Louis Vuitton, and even the newly-reopened Picasso Museum. It is so useless for our purposes, there should be a line for hapless gits so we could flash the Paris Museum Pass and someone could say, “You can’t use that here.”

picasso queue
We queued up for an hour at the Picasso. Apparently only a certain number of people can be admitted at any given time, or else you can’t see the art for the crowds. The press of humans is useful for staying warm as it is getting very cold.

Only get the Paris Museum Pass IF it’s your first time in Paris, you’re on a package tour, you’ve never seen the permanent exhibits at the Louvre, Orsay, Pompadou and the other majors, and you need to see everything in 2, 4, or 6 CONSECUTIVE DAYS. And you have a car and driver, because getting from one place to the other using public transportation (and we love the metro, though it smells exactly like the Quiapo underpass) will eat into your time budget. And your brain won’t overload and shut down.

We should’ve used the 42 euros to buy lunch with a glass of champagne at Fauchon dammit.

The Marquis de Sade and the Borgias: now sexing up the museums of Paris

October 31, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, History, Places 5 Comments →


The Borgia exhibit at the Musee Maillol doesn’t have an English text, but everything is familiar because we’d seen the TV show The Borgias. The museum exhibition is the prestigious historical tie-in to the TV show, except that the real Borgias and their associates, as painted by artists from the Renaissance, were not as beautiful as the actors. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are mentioned in the title, but they are barely represented; however, there’s a display of costumes from the series. Tsk, tsk, how commercial. It’s almost American.


The same could be said of Sade: Attacking the Sun at the Musee d’Orsay which, judging from the crowd waiting to get in, is a blockbuster. The show is massive, and the pieces impressive on their own—the Rodins are especially awesome—but their connection to the writings of the mad Marquis are tenuous at best. (Have you tried reading Justine or 120 Days of Sodom? We recommend them for insomniacs. Take two pages every night and you will sleep like the dead. However, our friend recommends his Philosophy in the Boudoir as “charming”.)

The curators imply that every major artist from the 19th century onwards was secretly influenced by Sade. The influence must’ve been so secret, the artists weren’t aware of it. Fine, the Surrealists championed Sade, so they should be there, but anything sexual or violent in the work of Goya, Gericault, Ingres, Rodin, Picasso, Munch is presented as proof of this influence: “It’s obvious!”

What is most obvious is that museum curators, like filmmakers, appreciate the uses of shock value. If you promise the audience decadence and depravity, they will come. The innermost room of the Sade show is called The Chamber of Perversions, and the fact that the viewer can come away unshocked is perhaps the most shocking thing of all.

See their NSFW exhibition trailer.

In the cemetery where Truffaut lies buried

October 30, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Cats, History, Movies, Places, Traveling 3 Comments →


There’s a Francois Truffaut exposition and retrospective at the Cinematheque Francaise. Like the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Patrick Modiano (whose books are in every bookshop window, taunting us), it exists to make people who don’t speak French feel bad. “But we’ve seen The 400 Blows lots of times, we already know the plot, so we can watch it anyway,” we consoled ourself. But The 400 Blows and the Antoine Doinel movies aren’t showing this week. Noooo!

In the meantime we visited Truffaut’s grave at the Montmartre Cemetery. We’re staying at our friend’s apartment, which is within spitting distance of Sacre Coeur, but only if you’re on the hill or if you’re an Olympic-level projectile spitter.

van gogh

On the way to the cemetery, we stopped at the house where Vincent Van Gogh lived with his brother, Theo. (There’s a plaque on the side of the building.) Sad story. In your lifetime your devoted brother, an art dealer, can’t sell any of your work, and then after your death your paintings go for zillions.

Still, the letters the brothers wrote to each other are wonderful. Read them. Vincent not only had the eye, he had the ear as well. One of them.


The map at the cemetery entrance lists the famous dead on the premises: Theophile Gautier, Edgar Degas, Hector Berlioz, Edmond Goncourt and so on. Even if we have no sense of direction, we couldn’t miss Truffaut’s grave.


Visitors leave their metro tickets on it. The Last Metro, get it? Granted, it is easier than leaving 400 Blows or a piano player with a bullet through him.


We like cemeteries, they’re quiet. A fat stray cat walked in front of us, but refused to be photographed.

* * * * *

Cat of the Day: Prince, of the Del Fierro-Bouyers.Tried to eat our cake because it had lots of butter.

Oliver Sacks on libraries

September 23, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books No Comments →

The Bodleian Library photo by Greg Smolonski

On the whole, I disliked school, sitting in class, receiving instruction; information seemed to go in one ear and out by the other. I could not be passive—I had to be active, learn for myself, learn what I wanted, and in the way which suited me best. I was not a good pupil, but I was a good learner, and in Willesden Library—and all the libraries that came later—I roamed the shelves and stacks, had the freedom to select whatever I wanted, to follow paths which fascinated me, to become myself. At the library I felt free—free to look at the thousands, tens of thousands, of books; free to roam and to enjoy the special atmosphere and the quiet companionship of other readers, all, like myself, on quests of their own…

Read it at The Threepenny Review, via 3 Quarks Daily

A Sunday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila

September 21, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places No Comments →

met open

We spent a few hours at the Met Open 2014, a benefit exhibition on contemporary art. Five eminent curators selected 208 artworks focusing on abstraction, painting, seriality, pop culture, myth and symbolism.

Robert Langenegger

Leo Abaya

de guzman
Jaime De Guzman

Paulo Vinluan

Napoleon Abueva

The five pieces shown above are among the artworks for sale. Proceeds will support the museum’s education and exhibition programs. Met Open 2014 opened today and will run until Saturday, 4 October 2014.

At the second floor galleries is the survey, The Philippine Contemporary Art Exhibition: To Scale the Past and the Possible.


Roberto Feleo

Patricia Eustaquio

Alfonso Osorio

Gabriel Barredo

Rodel Tapaya

Alfred Esquillo

Winner Jumalon

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is at the Bangko Sentral complex on Roxas Boulevard, Manila. The museum is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10am to 530pm. Entrance fee: Php100 for adults and students, Php80 for senior citizens. Visit or call (02)7087828 for more information.

A new graphic novella by Chris Ware

September 18, 2014 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Books No Comments →

the last saturday

As usual, we don’t know where to start reading.

The Last Saturday. New installments published in the Guardian every Saturday.