to experience as much museum as possible in a short period of time
Mona Lisa, check. Liberty Leading the People, check. Winged Victory of Samothrace, check. We walked up and down the broad arched hallways of the Louvre, zooming past masterpieces with no time to waste. We were on a mission. We were speed arting.
We had arrived at the museum at 8:30 p.m., and though we were fortunate that it remains open on Friday nights, it meant we really only had about an hour to venture through the largest museum in the world. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and through this manner of viewing art, one undoubtedly gets a very different perspective on the paintings themselves. In the first place, speed art gives you a very visceral sense of just how many paintings there are in the Louvre. To put it bluntly - there are a lot of paintings in the Louvre, and each one is brimming with color and contrast and history and narrative, and if anything this fast-paced-museum-tour only has made me want to go back to Paris and experience a life in the slow lane.
While the function of Speed Art remains exclusive to museums, the principle can very well be expanded elsewhere, and it no doubt defined much of our free time on our EU Institutions trip. Our trip took us briefly through Luxembourg, followed by an extended stay in Brussels followed by Paris. Each day on the week long voyage, we attended a plethora of meetings at an assortment of EU institutions, EU delegations, think tanks, and other international organizations - which I will discuss more below. However, when we were not in meetings, we did have some scattered blocks of free time.
Unfortunately, in two cities as diverse, rich, and interesting as Brussels and Paris (but mainly Paris), it takes a lot of time to really get to know the places. So instead of traversing the cities with depth and discovering their secrets, it becomes a bit more about attaining a wide breadth of experiences in the city. On our last day in Paris, in a matter of hours, I had climbed the Eiffel Tower, attempted to visit the catacombs (though the line was too long), done another round of speed art in the Musee d’Orsay, and had enjoyed an (overpriced but delicious) banana filled crepe from a street vendor. It’s not quite a relaxing way to travel, instead an endless cycle of hopping on and off the metro to get from destination to destination; but nonetheless, it really has only made me want to get to come back, and see the cities again in a more nuanced light.
Let’s backtrack to the actual purpose of our trip - an exploration of the EU institutions and a chance to meet with the diplomats and civil servants who, essentially, help keep the world from falling into anarchy. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the first hand visits alongside classroom knowledge provides for a very rich and multi-faceted understanding of the operations of an organization such as the EU. For example, it makes it a lot easier to spot the biases of some of our speakers. In a discussion about Turkey’s possible accession to the EU, our speaker articulated his points through an extraordinarily optimistic lens - one which was clearly influenced by his job as a representative of the EU Commission. Moreover, in a fascinating meeting at Russia’s Embassy to the EU, the diplomat speaking with us possessed a mastery of rhetoric and debate in the English language; he was blunt and selectively factual, painting a picture of a victimized Russia facing an ever aggressive West. Much of it seemed quite propagandistic, but I was nonetheless charmed by his charisma, and I was better able to understand why the Russian government’s viewpoints could be justified by its supporters.
These diverse viewpoints were but some of many, and provided for an enlightening trip. In fact, I think that the principle of speed art can yet again apply here. There are so many different voices and actors and individuals working within the realm of international relations, that I’ve often found it hard to develop a sense of direction. However, by getting to sample a variety of organizations and viewpoints, I’m starting to figure out what I’m interested in coming back to and exploring in more detail.
So there you have it. Speed Art. I might have made up the word, but it explains my trip with three separate levels of abstraction, so it must be good for something besides hastily taking a selfie with the Mona Lisa.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hello! My name is Zach and I am so happy you are here! I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and am currently a Junior at Occidental College, where I am double-majoring in History and International Relations. I'm fascinated by the connections between the past and the present, and the role that history plays in modern diplomacy. Be sure to keep up with my travels as I explore Freiburg and the European Union this semester!</p>