|Tenerife Espacio de Las Artes TEA|
Looking Toward Museo de Natur and Hombre
Did the mythical continent of Atlantis ever exist?Probably not, but the prehistoric Guanche people of the Canary Islands were once thought to be Atlantans. What we have learned of their physiognomy did not fit into any other racial or ethnic group – neither Mediterranean, African, or Arabian. “Otras” they are called. I learned about them in the Museo de Natur y Hombre in Tenerife, the capital of the Canary IslandsThis was one of the discoveries I made spending several days in the Canary Islands, our substitute for Casablanca, cancelled because of the demonstrations in Arab capitals, including Rabat, against the American film trailer insulting to Mohammed. In addition to rescheduling my class field lab in Casablanca, I had to cancel a personal trip I was taking to Fes, Meknes, Volubis and Meknes. I was very upset this happened but that’s another story.Even so, the sound of those exotic names still makes me sad. In response to my cancellation of his services, my putative driver in Morocco responded kindly with a quote from the Koran: “You could loathe something although it is beneficial for you.” The Canaries couldn’t substitute for Morocco but I hopefully the stay was beneficial as I learned a lot from my visits there as well as the earlier stop in Cadiz, Spain.The religion of the Guanche appeared to have been God-centered although also very connected to nature as well. The Guanche believed in “un dios supremo” who is grand, sublime and who sustains all. Early engravings by these people were discovered in the 15th century by crusaders who came to the Islands.Later, the Canary Island were settled by the North Africans, likely Berber people from Libya, who were known as Hierros.According to a statement printed in the museum in Spanish (and my elementary translation), Mark Twain wrote about the Canaries that “The natural exuberance of the islands is the refuge of Romanticism, dreams and mystery.”
I also visited a magnificent art museum that was housed in an architecturally interesting building. Tenerife Espacio de Las Artes (TEA) was only a short walk from the Museo de
Inside TEA looking into libraryAn exhibit called “Topografias de la Memoria.” Building on a statement by a writer that fiction is often based on stories or histories that in themselves are actually inventions as well. This exhibit of photos was fascinating and built on my interest in the role of memory in the creative process.
My favorite was a video. Two people appear to be facing one another but in reality, the woman is talking to someone in a bar, while the man who appears on her right is really a reflected image on her left. Thus, I watch an encounter that never happens but could have. We see reflections of vehicles and people to the right who then come from the left across our vision and disappear. It was 4 minutes but I could have watched it all day. I realize how much I love this riff on mirrored images taken to another level of art. It is part of my obsession with mirrors that began when I was a child and would stand before a bureau that had side mirrors I could fold into myself and see an infinite number of reflections much as Narcissus gazed at his reflection in a pond.
A Missed Encounter?
Another great discovery in this museum was an artist, Maribel Nasco, born just a year before me and who does assemblages of steel and aluminum to create the most sensuous images of landscapes and the female body. She reminded me a lot of another artist who worked in a different medium – Georgia O’Keefe. Nasco is a native of the Canary Islands and has an enormous body of work that also includes paintings and collages of found objects.
Aluminum and Steel - It's hard to believe!
The Canaries truly provided surprises as to its art and architecture . . . and archeology.