Vamos a Bilbao!!

Saturday we spent the day in Bilbao, about an hour and a half away from Santander, to visit the Guggenheim Museum (no not the one in New York, yes there is another one). I have been to many museums and while some of them tend to blend into each other, the Guggenheim set itself apart. The first exhibit we perused consisted of long slabs of metal that formed either a swirl or a wavy tunnel that visitors could walk through. The second exhibit we visited was abstract expressionism, which happens to be my least favorite form of art because I see no way of justifying how a canvas painted entirely black holds significance, no matter what the audio guide says. However it was interesting to go from “painting” to “painting” and listen to what kind of ridiculous meanings the museum came up with. For one large one the artist dumped blue paint on canvas and had a girl roll around in it for a while. There. Art. Perfect. Let’s put it in a museum.

The most interesting exhibit was a video titled “Human Mask,” and featured a kind of monkey with a traditional Asian mask, wig, and dress on. The monkey was alone in an abandoned restaurant where it had worked as an entertainer, serving and dancing for guests until a tsunami forced everyone out of town. The monkey’s attire gave it a scarily human air and due to this, its actions and even emotions (we could sense fear and boredom) seemed human as well. We follow it through an unknown amount of time–it could be a day it could be a month–as it stays in the restaurant. The video is on an unending loop where the end and beginning is ambiguous. When I first entered I thought it was a horror movie due to the eerily abandoned setting and small masked “child” (who I did think was a real child for the first five minutes). This film raised many unanswered questions: what happened to the monkey? Why does she never leave the restaurant? Does she receive help? And most prominently, what was the artist trying to convey?