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The Route-Master

20 December, 2007; 8:00 Leave a comment Go to comments

Crack at Tate

Originally uploaded by joelpf

I spent my other full-day in London wandering around Notting Hill’s street market, shopping for a wool coat, and visiting the Tate Modern. You may remember the Tate when it first opened up its installation Test Site, by Carsten Höller, the spiral slides in its main hall, which combined an art installation with a speedy route for, say, getting from the 5th floor to the ground floor….Well, the slides are long gone, but the newest installation in the main hall was recently completed: Shibboleth, by Doris Salcedo, a deep crack in the cement floor of the main hall, extending erratically along its entire length from main entrance to back wall. The effect is subtle, but when you notice it, you get the impression that a major earthquake has shifted the ground beneath. This works especially well in a space such as this, built large of steel and concrete, such that without the crack, everything would be seem absolutely unalterably solid. But with the crack, it reminds us of the vulnerability of the even most “concrete” of structures. This is only a highly literal interpretation — the artist’s own comments allude to discrimination, racial hatred, and the experience of third-world immigrants to Europe.

Karin and John
Originally uploaded by joelpf

That evening I met up with Karin, an Australian I met nearly 6 1/2 years ago on the ferry from Spain to Morocco who happens to be in the transport planning biz, along with two friends of hers, and we managed to stay in contact — a bit sporadically — up until now, the first time we’ve been on the same continent again. Now living in Reading, near London, I had to take the opportunity to catch up with her, so she and her boyfriend John took me out to dinner. We went to a vegan restaurant called the Root-Master, so named because the restaurant occupies a retired Route-Master bus, one of the classic, red, double-decker buses that once populated central London (now nearly all of the classic buses are retired). The ambiance was especially pleasing for me, for nostalgic reasons, and although I am a die-hard omnivore, the vegan main dishes were extremely tasty and just hearty enough to leave pleased — something that’s often missing from vegan meals.

Karin and Joel

Originally uploaded by joelpf

And here’s a closer-up shot of Karin and Yours Truly. It was great to see Karin and catch up a bit, as well as to learn about John’s fascinating job involving geology, diamonds, and community relations in Western Africa. But sadly, the visit was a very short one, with my overseas flight coming up the following morning.

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