Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Contemporary art and Michigan State University

 It was a bitterly cold, snowy Sunday when the French sister-city delegation and members from the College and I set out for a visit to East Lansing, Michigan USA. Lansing is the capital of the state and East Lansing is where you find Michigan State University and an interesting museum of contemporary art.
I'm not a fan of contemporary art  but I was curious to set what is considered worth being hung on these walls.  

The museum itself is very new and has some interesting architecture. In the rain, the entrance loomed like a giant teethed maw. An illusion but not conducive to warm comfy moments. I guess I'm too used to old European architecture these days.

 The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University  explores international contemporary culture and ideas through art. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid, the museum features a striking fa├žade of pleated stainless steel and glass, signaling the museum and the university’s dynamic vision. More than 70 percent of the 46,000-square-foot facility is dedicated to exhibition space.

There was use of very different media. One wall consisted on thousands of tiny nails and string in a painstakingly produced geometric pattern.
Various sorts of modern female vestments/armour were on display. At least they were recognisable as something concrete.

Geometric patterns and splashes of paint seemed to be in vogue. 



There was even a representation of a bed built from wooden crutches. Well, I'd never have thought about doing that but is it art? It was done in a rather rudimentary fashion.

 And then there were the metallic shapes; completely plain but they caught the light and made quite beautiful effects amongst themselves, from reflections of other objects around them, when they moved. 

One thing that really puzzled me was a sword on display. It said it was the sword of Joan of Arc, France. It didn't say it was a copy and it was displayed above eye-level which made things awkward for the viewer. If it was the real sword what was it doing in Lansing and not revered somewhere in France such as Rouen or Orleans?  Odd.

Another thing I couldn't  get my head around was the idea that computer-generated geometric patterns are now considered art. Yes I know, artists work with their current media but it just doesn't seem the same to me.

The exterior of the building is very low maintenance and juxstiposes well with the 19th century buildings around it. I went for a walk in the nearby streets once the sun came out. 

What an amazing campus they have at Michigan State University.MSU is the eighth-largest university in the United States, with 47,800 students and 2,954 faculty members.  It's enormous but more than that, it's so different from French universities. 

There's the one integrated campus with so many facilities, some of which add life to the place because they are available to the public. There are shops and businesses catering to students' needs.The quality of the facilities is first rate and there's space for sports fields and a giant stadium.

Not far from Spartan Stadium their mascot Sparta pulled up ion his buggy/ cart thingee. There we were, the mostly-French delegation tumbling out of the van in order to get a photo with the university sports mascot. No doubt he thought we were crazy, but it was a bit of fun.

I was very impressed with the size of this ivy-league uni and what it offered students though I imagine those from small towns might struggle to adjust to the immensity of it  all. I enjoyed my day out and we all dined together at the home of French Professor.

For further info on the museum visit http://broadmuseum.msu.edu/about

For further info on msu visit http://www.msu.edu/about/index.html


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