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раптової пірует 20/06/2011

Posted by brendan in Avions, Trains et Voitures, Leçons Culturelles.
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Outdoor Theater

They honored silence and the passage of time. One or two created self-contained picnics in their laps. One or two clung to beers praying for some distraction from their festering minds. We were all scattered throughout rows of long wooden benches which rippled forth from some modernist caricature of an amphitheater. Jean Nouvel has finally escaped his space-age polymer nightmares through the divinity of Eastern-Orthodoxy and had become infatuated with Norse mythology.

Chairs were shuffled and instruments deposited beneath a creeping tongue of polished wood. Stagehands clustered for idle chatter in an open doorway, basking in the knowledge that any spectacle slated was hardly imminent. The audience was content to wait for someone to eventually pull a rabbit from a hat.

Trees lined a wide walkway perfect for promenading in big, funny hats. Janice trained her camera on a wall which had been repeatedly victimized by reverent, although indiscriminate, fans of MTV rock. A teenager powered past on skates, interpreting the soaring melodies of his Walkman through twirls, knee bends and smiles. Off he would disappear into the distance, skid into a sudden pirouette, then come rocketing back to encircle his humorless babushka.

Skate Rock

The brilliance of this crimson celebration blinded us to the Mariinsky Palace. Originally commissioned by Empress Elizabeth Petrovna during the middle of the 18th century, the modern seat of Ukraine’s government was fashioned in the Baroque style favored by a Russian monarchy desperate to be seen as sophisticated by Western European courts. Royalty first crossed the threshold during Catherine the Great’s triumphant dalliances amidst battles with the Ottomans.

After fires destroyed much of the palace Alexander II, fresh from cleansing Ukrainians of their language during a fit of Russification, ordered reconstruction guided by paintings and sketches. The queen Maria Alexandrovna donated from her own purse on condition that existing parade grounds become public parklands, hence the name. Bolsheviks requisitioned the palace during the civil war, then saw fit to run an agricultural school from its halls. German bombs destroyed Mariinsky once again in 1941. Four decades later a major face-lift ensured Ukrainian ministers could throw eggs and smoke-bombs in comfort and style.

We missed it all, instead finding misshapen lion heads vomiting frothing green water. Pockets of quiet conversation hovered over benches or trailed passing pedestrians. Shade had suddenly become a hot commodity in the shadows of encroaching development, a looming tower which chased us onto a congested thoroughfare.

Street Smarts

Old women kept an eye out for customers or sudden rain, ready to throw sheets of plastic over their used books. Janice’s enthusiasm for photographing graffiti began triggering responses in my reptilian brain, wariness growing in response to the emergence of a monument celebrating tanks. Arsenal’na metro station, said to be the world’s deepest, sits across from the grounds of the Kyiv Arsenal where in 1918 workers threw off existing shackles for Russian ones. During Soviet times the factory produced military technology before concentrating on the production of optics and cameras. Once tens of thousands worked in the compound. Today packs of men loiter in the plaza, shuffling their feet, watching dumb Americans taking pictures of graffiti. It began to rain, so we scurried underground to continue our journey.

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