Sunday, 15 June 2008

HR Giger in Prague - April 2005

Gradually but steadily, as my travels progressed further and my encounters with others continued, I started to become aware of more than just the seemingly infinite catalogue of work from the ultimately creative palette of HR Giger.
Only four months later than my second visit to Paris, when I attended the ceremony of Giger's receiving of "La Medaille de la Ville de Paris", I embarked on my journey to the Czech Republic's historic capital of Prague for the next Exhibition of Giger Art.
This major retrospective of HR Giger's artwork, was held at Nardoni Technicke Muzeum and covered two floors of the museum's interior, together with screenings of Giger's early and more obscure film collaborations, shown in a spacious ground floor theatre.
During my time at the National Technical Museum and through encounters with others who attended this event, it was becoming increasingly apparent to me, that I was by no means alone in my following of these exhibitions.
Through introductions made, and with my enthusiasm to meet all concerned, I found myself being welcomed into the enclave of friends and followers known so appropriately as, The Giger Gang.

Devotees to the preservation and promotion of Giger Art all, I was able to share empathy and affiliation with Walter Ackermann, Les Barany, Alf Battig, Matthias Belz, David Jahn, Hans Kunz, Robert Stevens, Erwin Tschofen and Sandra Muller, Michael Verhoef, Ben Wahhh and Marco Witzig.
It was within the company of these people, and with a sense of belonging, that my time spent in Prague became the first major Exhibition of Giger Art that I enjoyed as part of this family of followers, thus allowing me to experience the progression of events surrounding this Exhibition, from start to finish.

On my first day in Prague, I met with Les Barany at the hotel where most of us were to be staying.
Soon after our first coffee in the hotel lobby, we took the short walk to the National Technical Museum where Jiri Zeman, Head of Public Relations, greeted Les and myself before guiding us on a tour of the museum's vast and permanent exhibits, showing industrial and engineering marvels of human achievement.
Straight after this, we began our tour of the two floors of this building that held the exhibition of Giger Art, while last preparations and final installations were being made by the museum staff, for the approaching opening event.
I then started my own tour of this exhibition with my Canon Eos 35mm unleashed and released from its casing.
I truly experienced freedom to roam across these two floors of Giger Art exhibits, as I weaved my way in between the blue, cloth covered cubes that Giger's paintings were suspended across all four sides of.
During the late morning of this day, I was the only person in attendance with camera as I travelled over the two floors of this Exhibition.
The photographs you see here are a part of the results from my own endeavours to cover this Exhibition, some of which you will find in the “Exhibitions” section of and others of which you will not have seen before.

For the evening of this first day in Prague, our group of Giger Gang members took the invitation to attend an arranged night in the club Futura, a venue that seemed to elude all locals' sense of direction when approached by our group during our search for this night club.
Despite this, we did all reach Futura, relying more on the intuitive internal guidance system of Ben Wahhh and, once inside this venue, we met with Carmen and HR Giger for some duration of that evening.
A great night was had by all and live entertainment was supplied by Bruno Ferrari, for whose band David Jahn performed acoustic and electronic percussion through his drum kit of hybrid technology.

The evening of April 13th 2005 saw the first opening night of the exhibition and was a VIP event, only giving admittance to those who were in possession of the invitation card.
This event attracted massive attendance by all those invited and the evening's proceedings included a showing of the 1920 silent film “The Golem”, based on the book by Gustav Meyerink, and a favourite subject of interest for Giger, in which acts of magic are used to bring life to an artificial intelligence and life form.

During the days spent in Prague for the opening of this exhibition, Giger actually visited the grave of Rabbi Judah Loew who, according to the legend, created and brought life to The Golem.
This visit to the Prague Old Jewish Cemetery was captured on film by David Jahn for a Czech produced documentary in which Giger talks about this subject of great interest.
Further evidence of Giger's fascination for this subject can be seen in the large number of Golem and Prague related sketches that have been produced by the Artist.

Other screenings in the museum's theatre, that would run throughout the duration of the Exhibition, were HR Giger's early years' film productions of "Swiss Made" and "The Second Celebration of The Four".

Strong representation from the Prague Hell's Angels was felt and seen inside the National Technical Museum, as well as around the outside areas of the museum.
One could not help but notice, some members' presence being very apparent, as they stood as guardians to areas within the Exhibition, and to some specific works of art by HR Giger.
There are strong connections here, and a photograph of Giger with the Prague Hell's Angels can be found on page 230 of the 25th Anniversary edition of the “www HR Giger com” publication, from Taschen.

During one afternoon of our time spent in Prague, Giger Gang members who were present at this time were able to meet up with Carmen and HR Giger to attend a gathering at the Swiss Ambassador's residence.
This was a very memorable afternoon.
We enjoyed drinks and food of a delightful nature that were brought to us and served as we stood on the balcony of the Swiss Ambassador's residence in Prague.
A photograph of HR Giger and the Swiss Ambassador standing together on this same balcony, can be found on page 232 of the 25th Anniversary edition of the “www HR Giger com” publication, from Taschen.

If the young couple pictured here would happen to see themselves in this Blog, and would like to be identified here, please contact me via email in My Profile and I could add your names.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

HR Giger in Paris - December 2004

Have you ever noticed, that any time you might be looking, and happen to come across information regarding the Award of La Medaille de la Ville de Paris to HR Giger, that the text you will find is always the same sentence, word for word ?
Although this does state the fact, that the Event took place, here now is something different for you to read, an account that is written by One who was there.

La Medaille de la Ville de Paris is a prestigious cultural Award that is actually equivalent to an honorary citizenship of Paris and is the highest honour that can be offered by the French capital.
The Medal's history dates back to 1792 when an artist named Jacques-Louis David called for the creation of a series of medals that were to be modelled on ancient Greek and Roman coins which would commemorate glorious events and the men that caused these events to take place.
This resulted in a long series of medals that were designed to depict and propagate revolutionary ideals, beliefs and incidents of that time which would glorify the history of the French Revolution.

On Friday 17th December 2004, La Medaille de la Ville de Paris was awarded to HR Giger in recognition of His achievements and to honour this unique Artist's outstanding contribution to the world and progression of Modern Art.

During my time at home between the months of September and December 2004 I was involved in a great deal of communication with Leslie Barany regarding and arranging a purchase of Giger Art.
It was during these arrangements that Bijan Aalam became involved and through these communications my purchase and plans for collection were finalized.
Bijan Aalam is a long term friend to HR Giger and is Giger's agent in France.
The suggestion was made that if I was able to travel to Paris and meet Bijan to collect my purchase, then I would be able to attend the ceremony of HR Giger receiving his Award and that I would have opportunity to photograph the Event.
This of course, was a suggestion that could not have been more perfect for me, and I accepted.
Bijan had reserved a room for me in the same hotel that HR Giger and Carmen Maria Scheifele were to be staying at in the Montmartre area of Paris, all this of course before Giger and Carmen were to marry in 2006 and the Director of HR Giger Museum would become Carmen Scheifele Giger.

Once again, I found myself enjoying a visit to Paris and staying in the same area of the French capital as before, during my September visit, and in very close proximity to Halle Saint-Pierre.
Le Monde Selon HR Giger was still on exhibition in Halle Saint-Pierre at this time and a Book Signing session had been arranged to take place on the following day, 18th December 2004, which I was also able to attend.

On the morning of Friday 17th December 2004, I joined the company of HR Giger and Carmen to make our way to the nearby Metro station of Abbesses as there were no taxis available on that morning.
We travelled together on our journey to Hotel de Ville where the ceremonies of that day were to take place.
On entering Hotel de Ville, an overwhelming sense of stepping back centuries in time flowed through me as we walked through the grandeur and splendour of the interior decoration.
We were met by an Aide of Hotel de Ville who guided us to where the ceremonies were about to begin and we all took our places amongst others who gathered there.

Quite a number of other dignitaries were present here, in this room, and HR Giger stood together with all those who were to be awarded with La Medaille de la Ville de Paris.
The two presiding hosts for these ceremonies were Christophe Girard who is the Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of Culture, and Christophe Caresche who is the Deputy Mayor in charge of the organization of the Council of Paris.

Here you can see these two gentlemen listening intently as HR Giger gives his acceptance speech just before the Awards were given.

Also present in this room of ceremonies were quite a large number of people and onlookers with cameras in their possession.
It was within this line of people that I was trying to find good position for taking the photographs that I was able.
Fortunately, the two photographs that you see here, and others that I was able to take on this day, are the result of my persistence within the small crowd, thus giving a photographic record of this once in a lifetime Event.
An air of jubilance and celebration filled the ceremony room after the Awards had been given and time was taken for all to reflect on the morning's proceedings.

Our group left Hotel de Ville and we made our way to the nearby Louvre Palace for some lunch.
We all sat together at a table in Café Marly, which is housed in buildings looking on to the courtyard of the Louvre Palace.
After our lunch, we continued into the exhibition rooms of the Louvre and spent some hours of the afternoon making our tour through the hall ways of this historic and incredible building.
Unfortunately, the larger areas of the Egyptian exhibits, which were the strong desire of Carmen's to visit, were closed.

Later in the afternoon, some of us parted company, while myself and others made our way back to the Montmartre area of Paris to our hotel, weary but jubilant from the unique experiences of this day.

For Saturday 18th December 2004, a Book Signing session had been arranged and advertised to take place in an auditorium room, housed below ground level, in Halle Saint-Pierre.
There was also an interview with HR Giger, given by a French television station, in the first floor exhibition hall.

My time spent at Halle Saint-Pierre and the authority given to me by HR Giger, allowed me freedom to roam and capture what I could on celluloid of that afternoon's events and my surroundings.

The rarely seen rear view of Biomechanoid 2002, taken from behind, showing the incredible spine detail and precision of Giger's Sculpture.

The length of the queue that wound its way down the stairs of Halle Saint-Pierre to the Book Signing session.

If the young lady pictured here, alongside HR Giger, would happen to see herself in this Blog and would like to be identified here, please contact me via email in My Profile and I could add your name.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

HR Giger in Paris - September 2004

Three months had not passed by since my return home from Gruyeres when I was already making plans for travelling to Paris.
My visit to HR Giger Museum had rewarded me with more than I expected.
From the days I enjoyed in Gruyeres and the hours that I spent inside the Museum, my initial quest for Giger Art was complete.
However, from the days that passed during the weeks at home after this, I discovered that tasting the flavour of what it is to gaze upon and lose myself within the intricacies of Giger's Original Paintings, had now left me with a hunger that was in need of satisfying, once again.
Fortunately for me, this was at a time when two Exhibitions of Giger's Work were about to be held, opening within days of each other, in Paris.
The information publicising these two events that I found on pages of indicated to me that I was now facing the dilemma of how to time my arrival in Paris.
If I had then, the extent of knowledge regarding the opening nights of Giger's Exhibitions that I have now, then whether I would have planned things differently, I would have to say that I doubt.
I am a person who is lost in the crowd, finding myself only when I am in the company of a few.
As it was, I planned my trip to Paris so that I arrived shortly after the opening of the Exhibition at Halle Saint-Pierre, but shortly before the opening of the Exhibition at Galerie Arludik.
This, as I discovered to my delight while in Paris, was most certainly to my advantage.

For this Trip, my first to Paris, I was not so willing to rely on the fortune that I had in finding my accommodation while in Gruyeres.
A first meeting and conversations with Ingrid Lehner, Co-Director of HR Giger Museum, regarding the new Digital Lithographs of Giger's Alien, added toward giving me the confidence to compile an email of enquiry to Halle Saint-Pierre.

It was with very pleasant surprise that I received a courteous and helpful reply from Martine Lusardy, Director of Halle Saint-Pierre, informing me of a Hotel possibility situated in the neighbouring area of Montmartre.
Unfortunately, on contacting the Hotel, I was informed that this was fully booked.

I soon found, for myself, alternative Hotel accommodation and finalized my plans of travel to the City of Light.
I landed at Charles de Gaul Airport, caught a train to Gare de Nord and followed a street map within a Lonely Planet book of Paris to my Hotel, all with enough time remaining to locate on foot Halle Saint-Pierre, just before closing time.
This allowed me to introduce myself, and give thanks to Martine Lusardy, before returning to Halle Saint-Pierre the next day with the intention of losing myself, once again, within the abyssal depths of Giger Art.

The Exhibition at Halle Saint-Pierre was held under the title of “Le Monde Selon HR Giger”, The World According to HR Giger, and featured over two hundred Works of Art from the ultimately creative palette of this truly unique Artist.
Such a pleasure for me, to enjoy the freedom of being the tourist within this Exhibition and to experience again, just as when inside HR Giger Museum in Gruyeres, the all consuming affect that is evoked when surrounded by the purity of Giger Art.

After emerging from one of my tours of this Exhibition and engaging in further conversations with Martine Lusardy, I was given written directions of how to find my way to Galerie Arludik.
So as to be able to arrive at this private gallery within plenty of time before opening of the Exhibition, titled “Biomechanoides Paris 2004”, I set off to discover this location in the daylight of September 21st.
I navigated my way to Ile de la Cite using the Paris Metro system and followed the directions I had been given to find Rue Saint-Louis en L'lle, situated on Ile Saint Louis, with the ineptitude of a singularly lingual Briton.
Never the less, I reached my destination.

On arrival at Galerie Arludik, I found that preparations for the evening's opening of the Exhibition were being finalized.
I introduced myself to Diane Valembois, and was made to feel very welcome.
My sense of purpose and feelings of empathy were increased during this visit to Arludik as we sat and chatted while enjoying strong French coffee.
Time passed quickly on this day and the arrival of three o'clock in the afternoon coincided with the arrival of a chauffeur driven black Audi.
From this car, and into Galerie Arludik, stepped the man Himself.
For once in my life, I was in the right place at the right time.
Diane Valembois introduced me to HR Giger as a fan, with some emphasis on this word, and as a visitor from England.
Despite having spent forty one years developing my communication skills, I found that I had now lost all ability of speech, excepting of course to be able to pronounce the word “Hello”.
Looking back, I think that our exchange of smiles had spoken for itself and, in this, had said enough.
I had become, on this fine afternoon in Paris, a very contented and exhilarated man.
I had just met, HR Giger !

There were now some hours to pass until the Opening Event at Arludik, during which time I attempted to grasp the reality of that afternoon's experience while preparing myself for the evening to come.
I had returned to my Hotel for a period of this time, filled with a sense of purpose to my visit to Paris and with full intention of accepting the invitation given, to return to Galerie Arludik that evening.

It was now just a matter of retracing my footsteps of that afternoon and walking from Cite Metro Station, toward Notre Dame and following a path that runs between this landmark and the River Sienne, across a bridge at the rear of Notre Dame on to Ile Saint Louis and back down the narrow street that is Rue Saint Louis en L'lle toward Galerie Arludik.

The hosts of this evening's Event were already in presence and large glasses of punch were being served to all those who arrived.
Before I took the opportunity of speaking with anyone else, there now stood before me another man that I recognized from photographs within pages of Giger's publications, and whom I followed my instincts to approach.

If ever there was a beginning to my involvement in what I now write about, then I would have to tell you that my meeting with Leslie Barany on this evening was exactly that point of time in my life.
We spoke together of my travels to Gruyeres and Paris and of Giger Art and fascinations.

To have and to keep some visual memories of this evening, I had taken with me the Canon compact 35mm camera that I was using at this time.
Without wanting to appear too obtrusive, I took a small number of photographs in the street outside Arludik that held the excited gathering of visitors.
This was now the second time in my life that I was in a place where Giger Art was for sale, but only the first time in my life that I had seen separate Prints from what is the very special collection of the New York City series by HR Giger.
I was, at this point, totally captivated.

My satisfaction from this visit to Paris now seemed complete as I walked away from Arludik, filled with the intoxication from my consumption of glasses of free punch that were served, and the memories of meetings and conversations that I was still as yet, to fully see the path that these would lead me to.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

HR Giger Museum - Gruyeres - June 2004

The availability of Giger Art in the UK, it seemed, was minimal.
Or at least, that was the decision I came to after searching through book shops and art galleries of all descriptions in my home area of Chester and Liverpool.
Although true, that a few of the more common publications from Taschen and Morpheus could be found, it was soon possible to exhaust the pitiful stock that lay on shelves of the one or two shops that held these items.
It was during this time, in 2002, that a new passion was awakening within me.
For over twenty years, I had followed and lived with my true passion of playing keyboards and synthesizers for the creation of original electronic music.
Not without, of course, being totally enthused and inspired by those who perform this music with greater ability than myself.
Now though, in 2004, a new compulsion was begging to be followed and I knew that I had to look farther.
Not only feeling compelled to do so, I can also remember feeling assured that this was the right thing to do, and the next path to follow in my life, to venture to Gruyeres in Switzerland.

The adventure had begun.
Little did I know at that stage, totally unaware in fact, that this first solo trip to Gruyeres would be the beginning of a journey that I am still travelling on today, and has led to experiences and involvements which have empowered my inner self and enriched my continuing life.
So, I travel.

For this, the first time I landed at Geneva Airport, I was a stranger to Switzerland.
Regardless, I found that I was soon sitting on the upper deck of a Swiss train, which gave the impression that what could be seen through the windows was moving gently away, and not us, as the train began to leave Geneva Airport Station.
It occurred to me that I could have been travelling in a craft not connected by any mechanical means to the surface of this planet.
Or, maybe this was just part of the affect from what was the beginning of my discoveries and experiences in Switzerland.

I changed trains twice on this journey to Gruyeres with each of the trains becoming smaller, until I was travelling in a wooden sided carriage with big open windows that allowed the sunshine and the summer air to flood inside.
It was indeed, a very nice day.
From where this train stopped, at a little station in Gruyeres, I was able to find my way to the path that leads up the hill toward the Medieval part of the town and through a gateway that took me onto the cobbled street that runs through this village.
I had a thought.
Something that I had not arranged for this Trip, was my accommodation.
I had faith.
Having already compared Hotel prices that I had found on a page of and after gazing around my new surroundings, I walked straight toward Hotel la Fleur de Lys.
On this day, there was one room left available, this was for me.
I can remember that this room was offered to me as though it was just a spare room and not part of the rest of the Hotel.
This little room built in the roof space, with a skylight window, could not have been more perfect for me.
Eager to view this Swiss village from above the roof tops, I walked toward the skylight window and stood on the little wooden stool below.
With my elbows resting on the tiles of the Hotel's roof, I looked toward Castle St. Germain at just after quarter past six on a June summer's evening in Gruyeres and took my first shot.
Hence, the first photograph in this Blog.

Unable yet to rest or recover from my travels of this day, I made my way back down the Hotel stairs to explore this charming village.
My walk along the cobbled street of Gruyeres began, still with my final destination waiting to be found.
I stopped a couple of times along the way to take a few more shots of the village as smiles and the occasional greeting were exchanged between myself and those who passed me by.
Everyone seemed to be very friendly.
Just a little further up the hill and through the tall, stone arched tunnel is where I now stood with the Giger Bar on my left and HR Giger Museum on my right.
I was there.
I paused, turned to my right and walked toward the entrance of the Museum.
I knew that I had now found where I was looking for and that behind the locked glass doors that reflected the image of my weary but joyous self, I would find exactly what I was looking for, the very next day.

Click on image for larger view