Gallery-hopping, a demonstration of over 20.000, an awards ceremony and a room full of bunk beds & a Belgian band
01.09.2009 - 23.12.2009 10 °C
Like I said, here's the update of last weekend (I'm running behind, I know).
Last weekend was quite interesting to say the least. I think that Saturday (30/11) was the most eventful day since I’ve been in the Basque Country, which must count for something. Most of it consisted of miles and miles of walking, but the journeys and destinations were definitely worth it.
On Saturday morning, I took the 9 o’clock bus to Bilbao to go on an early tour past some ateliers, studios and galleries. I had to do some research for a few school projects, so I was loaded with my notebooks and camera. Of course, I should’ve known that gallery owners aren’t really too fond of people taking pictures inside, so that backfired.
I did however meet some interesting people, such as a photographer who welcomed me to his studio and at that moment didn’t really have time, but he will answer my questions through e-mail very soon. In the Museo Vasco they didn’t speak one word of English so I tried to help myself the best I could in Spanish and it worked out pretty well, because they were also happy to help me.
Later on, I bumped into PhotoGallery 20, which is owned by a young couple in their twenties. Lovely modern art photography, with a very open vibe. Galleries more than often make you feel like you have to be cautious and reserved, but that wasn’t the case at all here. Again, they were helpful and gave me a their e-mail address and phone number in case I had any questions.
By this time, I had already walked from Casco Viejo, up to Bilbao La Vieja and San Francisco, back through Casco Viejo, then to the centre (Moyua) and the area near the Guggenheim, and from there I went to the Museo de Bellas Artes. I’d never been there and it’s of course not nearly as known as the Guggenheim, but they have an amazing modern art collection. Actually, as far as paintings and sculptures go, I prefer the Museo de Bellas Artes.
At around 16:45, I went to a location close to the main bus stop to meet with Jon, who would take me to a demonstration. I had gotten in contact with him through a guy who closely follows the developments in the Basque Country. Jon is part of an Basque organization that is internationally involved in the supporting of suppressed population groups.
To clarify: last week, 34 people have been arrested in the Basque Country. They are accused of being involved in Segi, a radical Basque youth movement, which the authorities suspect to be tied to ETA, kind of as a recruiting pool. It's hard to know what is true and what isn't, but the fact is that up until now, these things haven't been proven right or wrong.
For all the details, I suggest you check some different news sources and blogs of the region. The relatives of these people had organised a demonstration against the arrests. I thought, as a foreign student, it was quite interesting to witness this at close hand, so I went to the demonstration – more than 20.000 people participated – which went all the way to the town hall. I couldn’t understand the slogans and speeches of course, but Jon translated most of it.
Immediately after this, I had to hurry back to the Museo de Bellas Artes, because I wanted to catch the Algerian-French documentary – apposite title – Peuple En Marche, by Nacer Guenifi, Ahmed Rachedi and René Vautier, the latter being one of the pioneers in anti-colonial filmmaking. The film was on the program of Zinebi, the International Festival of Documentary and Short Film of Bilbao, which took place this week. I had managed to get a press pass for it, because I’m using it as a subject for some school assignments.
After the film, it was 9 pm and I still had no idea where I was going to sleep that night. Everyone I know in Bilbao was out of town that night, so there were few options left. Eventually, I headed to the Akelarre hostel, where Niké has stayed a few times. I had to walk a few miles again before I got there, not even knowing if they would have any beds left at that time at night. Luckily, there was exactly one left in the largest room, which I had to share with – get this – 11 other Belgians. It’s such a tiny country and yet I still meet more Belgians here than any other nationality!
Anyway, after some refreshing I headed to the Arriaga Theatre, where the Zinebi Awards Ceremony had to begin and since I had the press pass, I could attend it. Niké was in Bilbao too (her mother was visiting), so she accompanied me. It was great to finally see the theatre from the inside, with the classic interior and all. The awards show itself went by quite quickly, but afterwards all of the winning films were shown. We watched six of them, but by then we were so tired that we decided to head home – well, Niké to her hotel and I to the hostel.
When I arrived there, I met some of my roommates. They were part of a rock band – Opossum – and had played in an Irish pub in Bilbao that night. They invited me to go have a drink, but by then I was so tired that I could only think about sleeping, even if it was in a bunk bed with 11 other people surrounding me.
So well, that was about it for that weekend.
During this week, I haven't been doing anything worth mentioning, since I was working for school almost all the time. Up until now, I've been in time for all the deadlines (yes mum, dad, I'm talking to you), so I hope I can keep that up.
In these next weeks we will have to combine our final assignments here with the project for our Belgian school, so that could get a bit hectic.
I'll (try to) keep you informed!
Some other snapshots from that weekend: