Spain

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, has become a shrine for the tourist. Like most modern shrines, it is about art, the expression of the sacred in a secular age. The modern art spaces are modeled on the religious spaces of churches, synagogues and mosques. The ritual to be followed inside the modern shrines is less clearly defined than in religious places. You are supposed to wander around and admire the art and architecture. To keep a record of your pilgrimage, you try to take photos, but many art museums don't allow you to do that inside. So you pose with family or friends in front of the building and smile. Best to do this before you go in, because after you will be tired and exhausted and less attractive in the photo. Part of what is exhausting is that there is so much to look at. Most museums provide audio guides that give you useful information, but they are tiring as well. What is missing in the modern shrine is the clarity of purpose, the laying out of ritual, and the collective experience of the visitor. The shopping mall rather than the church provide orientation for the art consumer, with museum cafes, restaurants, and shops available as places of rest. There is a parallel between the two types of shrines: many go because they feel they have to, and satisfaction comes from fulfilng the expectation. Perhaps you also feel like a better person, cleansed and spiritually recharged. And of course, unlike tradtional holy places, you are supposed to have fun.

j vimeo.com/72606116

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