Today I decided to visit MOCAK, the Museum of Contemporary Art Krakow. Isabel, the Spanish woman who was in Krakow still asked to join so we headed there together. We walked across the pedestrian bridge to the other side of the river. This is one of those padlock bridges that seem to be in every city (they are all apparently inspired by a novel, though I don’t know which, maybe you guys do?). There were some quite old and some quite funny ones, some people had even gotten a little creative and gone for the bike lock approach! We walked into the other side of town and started to attempt to find MOCAK. We weren’t lost but weren’t exactly sure of the way, so we asked someone for some directions. It turned out that the guy we asked was a tour guide! Isabel had met him a couple of days before on a free tour of the city. He sped off telling us to follow him, he was going at a fair pace though! And he was talking the whole time, as though he is probably always stuck in tour guide mode. He got us to the point where he was leaving us and pointed us in the right direction. Probably couldn’t ask for a better person to ask for directions! We walked through a square dedicated to the memory of those lost in the holocause, with empty bronze chairs set about the place. We made it to MOCAK, which is right next door to the Schindler Factory Museum. We went in, paid our entrance fee and walked into the museum. Currently there is a retrospective style exhibition charting the 20+year performance of Eve + Adele. This is a couple and artistic collaboration project aimed at highlighting, adjusting, altering and breaking down the social stigma and sort of taboo of sexuality and gender stereotypes. The two artists have spent the last couple of decades as women (one is a woman, one WAS a man, but has since been legally recognised as a woman), dressing in matching outfits, and wearing similar make-up, but they also both shave their heads to complete baldness. The show has large copies of Polaroid photographs plastered along the walls, showing them in attendance at many exhibition openings and artistic events. The person who takes the photograph becomes their collaborator in each of these works. There are also a number of videos, examples of their dresses / costumes and a few other objects. The show has a huge affect on the viewer, with every image of the two they have huge smiles, which have a profound affect at making you smile back, even if the smiles are false. I got to the end of this show with jaw ache! And I also came to the end of the show thinking that the end of this project might not come with the acceptance and change that the artists are maybe looking for, but is more in danger of the end of Polaroid film!
There was another show by a polish sculptor and painter, which wasn’t my favourite, the best bit being the people that were playing table tennis behind one of the closed doors, hearing the ball bouncing about and their chatter.
There is also a large show of the permanent collection of the Musuems artworks. This span various decades, some of the works are good, but they are ALL let down by the Museums attempts to enlighten the viewers with each and every work having a rather patronising and condescending piece of writing that attempts to ‘explain’ the work. If you go, I implore you to NOT read what is written on the walls!
By the time we finished in the museum we were quite thirsty so we went to this other café we had heard about, called Cheder Café it is actually a coffee shop, not a tea house (SHOCK HORROR). But we had both been convinced by the promise of Israeli coffee. This place is lovely, decorated with great colours and furniture and a good soundtrack. It is the hub of the Jewish community and events. The place was shutting early on this day for a meeting about the Jewish festival, but we luckily still had plenty of time. We ordered the coffee, and some food. I had a Pitta bread with Feta, olives and a sauce called Zateh(?). The food was good, the breads were thick and tasty, and the filling very satisfying. The coffee was good too, a lot more mild than I had anticipated. Spiced very slightly with cinnamon and nutmeg etc. This, we found out, was from a pre-mixed pot, which was a bit of a disappointment, but it was nice none-the-less, though neither of us were convinced of it being that close to the real thing.
We sat for a while longer then left when the café started to set up for the meeting. We went for another cup of tea, this time at the hostel that Isabel was staying at, spoke for a while longer and then it was the end of the day.