Staircase effect

Staircase effect
  • See you later, Charo Carrera... at the Pompidou Centre, Malaga

What to do when museums are under lock and key? Virtual visits are a possibility, so is sharing links to arty websites, even if there comes a point when the eye tires of the screen. Working from home - on the computer; shopping (or attempting to order) online; posting comments and photos via social media... For Tweet's sake, give us a break!

Virtual visits

Over-logged is the new over-booked. Too much screen time isn't just bad for kids. In this domain as in others, it's the quality that counts. If you're reading this, Chapeau! There's a pretty good chance that you have downloaded the print edition of SUR in English; maybe your next step will be to revisit virtually an exhibition you swished through during the pre-lockdown era - in what, with the benefit of hindsight, strikes you as a regrettably cursory manner. "Too crowded! Must come and see it again," you may well have chirped, whisking whoever was with you towards the exit; however, that second real-life visit wasn't in the cards; cultural confinement was around the corner.

My most recent e-thrill? A virtual peek at the Museo Carmen Thyssen, where a bijou show, focusing on Toulouse-Lautrec and the circus, harks back to the hustle and bustle of Parisian café society. A frisson of nostalgia bristles - from eye to brain to finger, tugging at the heartstrings - as the cursor hovers from a making-of video to the official inauguration. In the present context, it is moving to discover that Lautrec drew all of the sketches presented in the museum's Sala Noble from memory, when confined to a hospital room.

Just think

"Museum as no-go zone" is a concept totally alien to millennial museumgoers accustomed to fast-track internet access and keeping abreast of blockbuster retrospectives: "Scaree! Like being in a post-apocalyptic movie: Will Smith in I am Legend - stranded in the deserted streets of New York - only, it's real life!"

This spring, formerly essential keywords like "speedy entry" and "skip the line" are unlikely to get culture vultures into any of the major artistic events they had planned to throng to; instead, homebound art lovers will be searching their bookshelves for catalogues that have gathered dust, barely glanced at, because the reproductions were disappointing, compared to the "real experience". Flicking through them anew, we may land on a critic's foreword or on an artist's statement that makes us sit up, in our armchair. What if the mandatory obligation to "stay in" - epitomised in Spain by the ubiquitous "Yo me quedo en casa" slogan - were an opportunity for those of us fortunate enough to be symptomless to stop and think?

What if?

If contemplating the idea of "talking" more often to your "cerebrum" (Plato's idea of fun), as an antidote to claustrophobia... I have the perfect brainteaser (no, not yet another Sudoku or crossword puzzle) in my box of tricks. If you missed the unveiling of Charo Carrera's staircase project at the Pompidou Centre, on the last Saturday of February; if you didn't visit Malaga's iconic 'Rubik's cube' before it closed until further notice... you'll have to wait until it reopens to see her intervention up-close, in the flesh.

The good news is that the thought-conducive mural, featuring a blood-red, organic-looking frieze combined with gothic lettering - which this El Palo-based artist painstakingly painted and hand-scripted, perched on a ladder, brush in hand, over a period of several days - was originally scheduled to be visible to the public for an entire year. In the meantime, read on; mere mention of the concept, entitled Si yo, si tú (If I, if you), will set your mind ticking like a staircase timer.

In Charo's own words, she is extending "an invitation to change" to the onlooker. The rhythmically repetitive inscriptions, running parallel to the painting, surf on the Spanish language's conditional use of the imperfect subjunctive, unravelling - step by step - a stream of consciousness-like set of permutations. Our society, our planet, is "equivocada", on the wrong track, but... What if each of us were to turn things around, to attempt to change?

Rather than an "If only we had" posit in the spirit of "staircase wit" - esprit d'escalier, in French - Carrera has conjured up a series of questions, heralding potential "better times". Renewal is what it's about.

Something to look forward to, when 'El Cubo' re-opens, treating us (till next November) to a century of Spanish painterly flamboyance, From Miró to Barceló.