Juan Muñoz - The Double Bind and Around, Milan

This  Juan Muñoz exhibition came to my attention when I was looking for a program on a Saturday in Milan.  The photo shown in the The Guardian's article were figures looked like Chinese or Asian.  The figures, description of the exhibition and short life of the artist were like a magnet drawing me to visit it.Juan Muñoz is a contemporary Spanish artist (storyteller) after the Franco dictatorship.  He died suddenly at the age of 47, year 2001.

Juan Muñoz's exhibition of Double Bind and Around is held at HangerBicocca in Milan, from 9 Apr to 23 August 2015. It contains 15 installations and over 100 sculpted figures. The entrance is placed with the artist's Waste Land.  A small bronze man sitting demurely on a shelf, gazing at people, interacting with them with a background of patterned surface. The yellow, black and gray floor created depth and distance.

Around the central part sits another small figure, Ventriloquist Looking into a Double Interior.  I don't know the artist's intention.  But I felt a dash of loneliness on spot.

My attention caught with this scene, Conversation Piece. It's felt like a concubine looking at a loving couple from far. It is watching its lover kissing, caring another person.  It felt sorrow and could only remain a third party, no right and no say.

From another perspective of the loving couple are two figures.  One tied with a string struggling to escape from the control of another figure pulling the string.  It's like the flighting between human beings. So real and so cruel!

Walking a few steps across the floor were figures like acrobats dangling from ropes clenching in their jaws.  One has fallen and laughs, eyes bulging. Another hangs by his foot.  More figures stand around as if they are waiting for something to happen.  But nothing is happening.  Only viewers move around, in between to appreciate the art and become part of the art.

The exhibition centres on his most significant work, Double Bind.  It was an installation for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London in 2001.

Two elevators rose and descended.  Lift-shafts were populated by the artist's sculpted figures one level up. Viewers see them from below with a special perspective.

Beyond Double Bind is another huge space with a terrific 1930s spiral staircase in one corner, up to the roof height. Many Times - Fifty figures mill about on the floor.  It's like stepping into a place with people chatting.  They look amiable but viewers are never sure if the smiles are genuine.  The grey colour is cool.  It conveys a sense of distance between the figures.

I like the exhibition.   It opens a new horizon of art for me.



I had a few hours transit in Paris on 1st May.  The landing was 5 or 10 past 12 pm.  The ticket centre for Paris urban and suburban was very crowded.  Queues stood in front of the various ticket machines and the centre as well.  I chose the ticket centre as there were more people serving. The waiting was not too long and I could take a RER train departing before 1 pm.  My destination was Notre Dame.  The journey took about 40 minutes with stops at the suburban and the city centre.  By the way, a 1-day ticket costs €23.5 for zone 5, covering airport connection.

It was cloudy with drizzled all through the day.  Cold!  But it did not reduce the zeal from tourists.  Crowds were at Notre Dame.  The queue to enter into the church was endlessly long.  The facade is very beautiful, full of exquisite sculptures, telling you stories and win your admiration for long.   I just could not stop appreciating them and shooting photos.  The one below is the most impressive. An angel and the devil were battling to get people.

Other beautiful pieces include the baby massacre and the escape to Egypt.  I simply cannot show all the excellent sculptures.  You must pay a visit there.

Numerous was not only the tourists, but the police.  Chinese brides were shooting wedding photos on the one side of the church or nearby.  Freezing cold but scarce clothing.

Then I walked a bit along the Seine and streets nearby.  It's melancholic yet romantic. Not far away is another tourist spot, the Grand ChateletIt was originally built in 830 and rebuilt by Charles V.

It was cold.  I need something to warm me up. The best and quick option is crepe.  It is made fresh by order.  My €3 chestnut crepe fueled me up for further hours wandering Paris.  

As I went further away from Notre Dame more and more mouth watering food awaited.  Prices were lower relative to the similar stuff in Hong Kong.  Just I couldn't eat more since extra kilograms would be too scary. Look the size of the cheesecake pieces is enormous.

Purposeless wandering led me to Centre Georges Pompidou, a renowned high-tech architecture and the biggest modern art museum in Europe. Given that I had only a few hours this time, I had to skip visiting the art pieces but appreciate the outlook.

What's next?  Find the way to Arc de Triomphe or take the public transport to Eiffel Tower?  I chose the latter as I preferred to spend the evening around the Arc and Les Champs Elysees.  It's quite a winding trip, from Chatelet to Concorde, then Invalides and walked zig zag underground to get RER to the Eiffel Tower station.  It's some distance to the tower.  But it's also an advantage to see it from far moving to close.  Close at it were many people.  Looking the tower from the base to top is stunning.  If it were a fine day, I might have ascended to the top........

From Eiffel Tower to Arc de Triomphe is crossing the river and then more or less straight to the northeast.   But I took a detour after Musée Guimet, passing Musée Galliera on Rue 1er de Serbie and then the Avenue Marceau.

Along the way, I bumped into a fantastic bakery shop (La Pâtisserie Cyril Lignac) with my best baguette in life and a very beautiful church facade, Église Saint-Pierre de chaillot.

Sculpture groups on the facade of Eglise Saint-Pierre de Chaillot are gorgeous.  The most striking one to me is a man hung upside down on the cross.  I thought of Peter, the disciple of Jesus Christ.

Continuing along the Avenue Marceau I arrived Publicis Drugstore.  It sells all sorts of stuff and houses a brasserie, steakhouse and the famous restaurant Joel Robuchon (closed on 1st May).  The store was full of people.  The part with the longest queue is macaroon. It also runs a cinema on Les Champs Elysées.  I am a amateur baker.  Sweets, pastries are always attractive.

Arc de Triomphe!  I was finally there.  Traffic was from all the directions, busy and busy. I did not have sufficient time to figure it out crossing the streets to reach it. Viewing it from a small distance was already good. It was nice to be there again after my last personal travel in 1993.  Paris is always beautiful.  Its landmarks and architecture leave fond memories to everyone.

May 1st is a public holiday.  Therefore most of the shops along Les Champs Elysées were closed.  But it did not diminish my wish to walk along it, to feel the extravagance. Some of the buildings are now non-French, e.g. HSBC, China Southern Airlines.

Sadly it was about the time to get dinner before returning to the airport.  I had to stop the sightseeing at the statue of Charles de Gaulle.  Buildings nearby such as Grand Palais, Musee du Petit Palais and the Alexander Bridge were viewed from a distance.  OK, next time.

I went back to Chatelet as there is one of the RER stations for the airport.  But the restaurants there served often pasta, happy hours.  I picked one with entrecote as part of the restaurant name.  Hmm, the food was so so.   No worry.  I will do more homework for my next visit.  Bye, Paris!


Kowloon Walled City Park, 九龍寨城公園

3 Feb 2014


This is the first time I went to the Kowloon Walled City Park after the demolition of the area in April 1994.  It has much history.   With its strategic location the site was used by the imperial officials in 15th century and fortified in 1668. Defence facilitie grew sharply after the British occupation in 1841.  A walled garrison-city was constructed in 1846-47. An area of 6.5 acres was enclosed with massive stone walls with 7 watchtowers and four gates.  The switch from Qing officials to British troops led to a deterioriation of the area into semi-lawless enclave and festering squatter slum. The wall was torn down and the stone used to extend the nearby Kai Tak airfield during the Japanese Occupation in 1941-45. After the war, high-rise buildings emerged without authority.  It became a notorious nest of drugs, crime and vice dens.  In 1987 the British and Chinese officials agreed to demolish the area and convert it to a park. The original old buildings and some features were to be retained. 

The design of the park was inspired by the Jiangnan garden style of the early Qing Dynasty. It covers 31,000 square metres and is divided into eight scenic zones with individual characteristics.  The centerpiece is of course the Yamen, a fully restored three-hall structure offering a glimpse of the physical appearance of the one-time walled garrison-city.

It is the central focal point of the park and the only remaining building.   The building structure is 3
rows and 4 wings house.  Photos of the Walled City, drawings and essays related to the creation of Kowloon Walled City Park are prominently displayed.

Other landcapes include the Old South Gate, Mountain View Pavillion, Chess Garden, Kuixing Pavilion and Guibi Rock, Eight Floral Walks, Garden of Four Seasons, Garden of Chinse Zodiac.

South Gate
Chinese Zodiac structure
The plan of the park for your reference:

There are many restaurants in Kowloon City.  Just walk from the relevant entrance to enjoy the gourmet.  Thai restautants are abundant.