Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Monday, 30 March 2009

ENG: Trans-lúcids - the Best Art Exhibition Ever

More than once have I wondered why La Sala – Vilanova’s Centre of Modern Art – is always empty when I am there. Last Friday I got the explanation; all art interested people of this small town go there on the inaugurations. From now on I will try to do the same.

I have understood that the textile industry used to be important in Catalonia, but until now have I associated that with inland towns like Terrassa and Manresa. However, from 1870 to 1901, there used to be eight textile factories even here in Vilanova i la Geltrú and this is what La Sala currently pays a tribute to.

Three separate exhibition parts and 80 works made by 26 artist almost guarantees that everyone can find something of interest this time. Under the name “Made in Vilanova”, Pere Arenas takes us through the calender of the year and reminds us the time when clothes were sewn at home rather than bought. On La Sala’s upper floor, some students of interior decoration from the local art school have made an installation called “Ex-play”.

"Trans-lúcids", in the main hall, is what impressed me the most in terms of techniques as well as themes. It is made by artists from the Foment de les Arts Decoratives and in our local newspaper do I read that if in the sixties textiles developed from being handycraft into being an element of contemporary art, the dominating trend today is to combine textiles with other materials.

Trans-lúcids will hang until June 7, but I will come back a lot sooner to show it to my wife. And I am confident that she will agree that this is the best exhibition ever organized at La Sala. So, if you need an excuse to select Vilanova for your next Sunday lunch at the sea, here is a good one.

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CAT: Quina sensació de veure la sala gran tan plena d’obres i de tan alta qualitat. Per a mi, personalment, l’art més interessant que he vist a La Sala des de l'opertura en 2007, eren els motius del mar d’en Budesca, però Trans-lúcids és - sense dubte - la millor exposició ja que tothom pot trobar-hi la seva cosa preferida. Bravo La Sala!

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Technorati tags: Garraf, Penedès, Vilanova

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

ENG: A Splendid Enterro Marks the End of the Carnival

The last day of the carnival was historically the only time of the year when the church allowed -and people dared - to joke about death. In many Catholic areas this is still today celebrated by the symbolic burial of a sardine, symbolising the meagre food of the forty days of lent (quaresme).

Here in Vilanova it is the Carnival King (el Rei Carnestoltes) who dies on this day, but this year it took longer than usual before he did so. The classic, exaggeratedly solemn funeral procession had been given a totally new shape by the organisers; La Medusa and a number of local actors.

The rites started at La Sala, where what was said to be the Carnival King lay in a lit-de-parade surrounded by living deaths – people dressed up as participants of the typical Vilanova carnival ingredients (la Merengada, les Comparses, el Vidalet etc) but with a touch of death to them. Later, when the funeral procession had reached the Plaça de la Vila, a curious vilanoví (played by Sergi Lòpez) made an autopsy of the dead person, only to discover that it was the body of Vidalot. This is when the real Carnival King (played by Toni Albà; known for his interpretations of his majesty Juan Carlos in Polònia) entered the stage and admitted that he did, in fact, not like the Carnival.

After that revelation followed a show of which I, admittedly, missed the most. I had our two small sons with me and they were not particularly interested in the satire about the political life of this town, but got bored and demanded we went home. Still I dare to say that this was, by far, the biggest positive surprise of the Carnaval de Vilanova 2009.

Now, do not worry - the Carnival is over here as well. The Carnival King who had refused a natural death was assassinated at the end of the show. While he was left to his destiny, the audience was invited to buy sardines to eat (sardinada). And there must have been many families who had that for dinner, as well, because the smell of fried fish followed us all the way home that night.

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Serà difícil de repetir l’èxit de l’Enterro d’enguany, però espero que sigui possible. L’any que vé planificaré millor de la manera que pugui gaudir de l’espectacle. Quan hi ha soroll necessito centrar-me molt per entrendre el català. Simplement no disposo de suficientment capacitat de simultaneïtat per vigilar els nens al mateix temps.

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Support source of information: the print version of Diari de Vilanova

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Technorati tags: Carnival, Catalonia, Festa, Garraf, Penedès, Vilanova

ENG: Vidalot - Not in its Best Shape but Developing

Carnival Tuesday – Vidalot – used to be an evening when the most active carnival participants of Vilanova i la Geltrú walked through the town with feather dusters and carpet beaters in their hands so that they could beat everyone they met who did not wear a carnival costume. Nowadays, this tradition has died out so on the evening when Sitges celebrates its hugely popular Rua de l'Extermini, the streets here feel like almost any Tuesday of the year.

The local Federation of Carnival Associations (FAC – Federació d’Associacions pel Carnaval) is aware that this is a weak link of the celebration program and plans an overhaul for next year.

This year, the new Balaguer Cannon Parade was the most interesting event from a cultural point of view so, personally, I hope that it will be incorporated into the tradition. In the evening followed the carnival costume competition which I, in all honesty, decided to skip. However, judging from the crowd which later in the night followed two parading drum orchestras (xaranga) through la Geltrú, it must have been quite well visited. Probably it was the fact that a popular local band – Ragattuning – played the music during the Ball de Vidalot which attracted so many young people. Well, if that is all it takes, then it deserves to be repeated.

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CAT: Sí, ja ho se. Hauria estat més interessant si hagués publicat aquesta entrada (i les que seguiran) amb menys retard, però jo simplement no vaig tenir el temps. Ha coïncidit la mudança de la meva petita empresa cap a Vilanova amb un llarg viatge de treball que està fent la meva dona. (Quasi tres setmanes a l’India. Quina alegria. Per a ella.) Sort que el nou local els agrada als nostres petits i que tenen molta paciencia amb el seu pare.

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Technorati tags: Carnival, Catalonia, Festa, Garraf, Penedès, Sitges, Vilanova

Monday, 2 March 2009

ENG: Balaguer’s Cannon Belongs to Vilanova

Is it not terrible how some people never seem to get enough? Compare the average income of the inhabitants of Sitges to that of Vilanova and it becomes sadly clear who has the most money. But the Sitgetans do not seem to feel any shame. Now they want back an old cannon although, some generations ago, they handed it over as a gift.

True, it was not their meaning to give the cannon to their neighbour town, but to Victor Balaguer, a prominent Catalan 19th century politician and writer who represented Sitges, as well as other towns, in the parliament in Madrid. However, Victor Balaguer was a true philanthropist and during the later part of his life he decided to create a museum where his big collection of art as well as more odd things would be shown to the public. That museum was built here in Vilanova i la Geltrú.

The cannon is ours and to show the new-won affection we have for it since Sitges started to claim it back, this year it was paraded during the carnival. It even saw a song with an innumerable amount of verses written for it. Personally, since I am still a Carnaval de Vilanova “outsider”, I appreciated this occasion a great deal, because it was enough for you to sing along to become one of the participants. And since other people seemed to feel the same, I am confident that Vilanova has created itself a new tradition.

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For those of you who study Catalan, here are a few of my favourite verses:

Que n’aprenguin els de Sitges
Dels sabers de
Santa Rita
Ni que es tracti d’un canó
lo que se da no se quita’

A Sitges i a Vilafranca
El Xató no és pas de mena
Que ens han dit que l’encomanen
Als congelats
'La Sirena'

Caramels i Malcasats
I també el Moixó Foguer
I a partir d’ara i per sempre
El Canó d’en Balaguer

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Technorati tags: Carnival, Catalan, Catalonia, Garraf, Penedès, Sitges, Vilanova

Sunday, 1 March 2009

ENG: When Sitges Beats Us

Among the Swedish expats in the Barcelona, I am probably the only one who prefers Vilanova to Sitges. Having said that, when we talk about carnival celebrations in Catalonia there are a few aspects where even I admit that Sitges comes out on top.

The first one is the reputation of and number of visitors. The Carnaval de Sitges attracts people from all over the world and the parades on Carnival Saturday (rua de disbauxa) and Carnival Tuesday (rua d’extermini) congest the highway and overload allt trains to Garraf with people from Barcelona on their way to these all-night parties.

The second one is style. Thanks to a magnificent carnival poster and by incorporating La Sala as well as professional actors, Vilanova has reduced the distance, but Sitges is still far ahead. Our ‘Arrivo’ parade, for example, has great satiric values for those who follow local politics but, honestly, in craftsmanship and presentation, the least elaborate floats of Sitges equal the best ones from here.

The third one is international inspiration. If my children ever ask their Swedish friends what a carnival is about, the answer will contain words like samba, feathers and glitter. These are main ingredients in Sitges – just like in Rio de Janeiro – but certainly not so in the carnival which we have learnt to love in Vilanova.

Now, I am the first to defend el Carnaval de Vilanova as the only surviving truly Catalan version of this event and I hope that more foreigners will make the effort to explore it, although it is not as inviting as the one in Sitges.

However, for those moments when Vilanova feels introvert, I am happy to have Sitges nearby, as a window to the world outside. Just have a look at the clip where the young members of the Sitges Rugby Club make the New Zealand All Blacks' so called “haka”. That could simply never happen here.

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CAT: Vilanovins i vilanovines,

No estigueu decepcionats amb la nostra familia. Us demano disculpar-nos. És que els meus nens de veritat necessitaven una mica de distracció després de tants dies sense escola. A més, us prometo que portava una xapa anti-Sitges durant tota l’estona que vam ser-hi. Però, sí, teniu raó: vam ser infidels. Encara pitjor: vam passar-nos-ho molt bé.

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Technorati tags: Carnival, Catalonia, Garraf, Penedès, Sitges, Vilanova