Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meissen's many treasures

My folks got here last Monday night, and they greatly enjoyed traipsing about Dresden while I was at the archives. They saw the Altstadt, Innere Neustadt, Hygiene Museum, and Schloss Pillnitz (the summer palace August der Stärke [the Strong] gifted to one of his mistresses). One evening we even saw the feierliche Eröffnung ("festive opening") of an art exhibit that my roommate is a part of at the Rathaus. A small band played while a tapdancer executed some impressive improvisation. Also there were some speeches. Below you can see my roommate and me in front of some of the collages she made for this show. To the left is a shot from a performance piece she did with the man playing the recorder. She rigged up a plexiglass trough on two overhead projectors, and then ran a constant stream of water across them while interposing various objects (like a chain) and images (like the eyes you can see on the ceiling). She does a lot of multimedia work in 2D, 3D, and film.

MAP (My Awesome Parents) and I spent last Friday in Meissen, which is a perfect daytrip from Dresden. Although the weather was a bit gray and chill, the porcelain factory was really really interesting, the church had a surprising amount of art, and Schloss Albrechtburg with its gorgeous murals and vaulted ceilings really missed its calling as a royal residence. (It was abandoned by the family and spent most of its history as the center of the porcelain manufacture.) It was a day of many beautiful things and of empty wallets, as we both decided to splurge on a little hand-painted porcelain: I bought two dessert plates at the outlet, and they got two soup bowls at an antique shop. See if you can find either of the two bobblehead figures in my photo album on flickr! Other fun finds include a porcelain organ; figurines of four of the senses (which is missing?); a baptismal font with faces carved on its "knees;" Duke Albrecht's "manly deed" and also getting his beard shaved; and an alchemy set.

Saturday MAP and I ran errands in the morning and then attempted to go swimming at a city Schwimmhalle. Unfortunately, they were having a meet that day instead of free swim. But after that we went to das Historische Grüne Gewolbe (the historical green vault), which is a series of rooms (re)decorated to look like they did in the early 18th century, when August der Stärke displayed his treasures of amber, ivory, bronze, rock crystal, precious stones, silver, and gold. Many of the rooms have mirrors, and the effect is quite dazzling. Then it was off to the Vespers service at the Kreuzkirche, where we heard the famous Knabenchor (boys choir). We finished the evening with dinner at the Sophienkeller, a kitschy medieval-themed cellar restaurant with suits of armor in the hallways and a wandering lute player who serenades the guests. Our table was a reproduction [?!] torture device on which the prisoner was locked in metal stocks and a cylinder with spikes could be rotated under the small of his back.

MAP came to church with me Sunday morning, and then I kissed them and sent them off on the train for a few days in Leipzig and a few days in Berlin. It was a lot of fun to see them, and to shirk my work to play tourist for two days. There's so much to see and do in Dresden that a week isn't even enough time. Others things on the list of possibilities were VW's Gläserne Manufaktur (glass auto factory); the Erick Kästner Museum; Gedenkstätte Bautznerstrasse (an old Stasi prison); the technology museum; and the traffic museum (I thought my dad would like their temporary exhibit of DDR motorcycles). My impression is that Leipzig has less overtly touristy attractions but a more vibrant contemporary art scene. I'll let you know soon, as moving day is only two weeks away!

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