Thursday, November 18, 2010

Architecture and Morality

An interesting, busy day meeting arts contacts at Guangzhou Opera House, Guangdong Art Museum, Guangdong Modern Dance Company etc. The Zaha Hadid-designed Opera House is pretty amazing - typically sleek and angular and could only be Hadid. There's hardly a right angle to be seen (even the supporting columns lean) and it's desperately minimal, as if Hadid has outlawed anything which might interfere with the austere purity of it all. Signage, posters, plants be damned! Still, they've got their iconic building and I'm sure the human touch will creep in sooner or later (it only opened a few months ago).

If I learned anything today it is this: be aggressive like the Dutch. Everywhere we went, we kept hearing about the human dynamo that is Ton van Zeeland, the Dutch Consul-General. "He's everywhere". "Supports lots of Dutch artists". "Helps us a lot". "Very tall". But like all diplomats, he'll be moving on soon, with no guarantee that his successor will be an arts affecionado. In the end, national cultural policies and funding aside, so much is simply down to personalities.

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