Clet Abraham: Signs across Rome, Milan and Brussels

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When I saw the weekly Photo challenge  I had no doubts about what I am going to write. My post about Clet Abraham raised some curiosity, that’s why I am happy to present more of his works and thus establish a tradition of weekly travel photo galleries 🙂
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The Sign to Stop (and think)

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This week, the Daily Post Photo Challenge topic is signs. I do not know, how much actually a sign can mean for a driver, apart from the order to obey the rules, but for me – it is the whole world.
St. Petersburg is a city without graffiti – the fist time I learn what was it from the course book of English, where graffiti was used to illustrate the word-to-learn “eye-sore” :). And as I lived about 1,5 hours from the city center, each time I took train I sat on the certain site of it, to see the covered with pictures small small part of garages alone the railway. It was 90-s.
Graffiti never became spread in St Petersburg – what is sprayed overnight is washed or colored by 6am by street keepers. Of cause, they try to save colours and that’s why walls are covered with the patches of the whole range of yellow. I guess in several years this mosaics can become a form of street art in itself.
Rome is an exceptional place for me, and some very important events in my life happened there (funny, isn’t it?). The first time I came in late October, when in St Petersburg the water ponds were frozen in the morning, and in just three hours I entered the hot Roman autumn day with +27C. It was an exception, but a kind of exceptions I appreciate. I came alone, found my small flat next to Vatican, put a t-shirt and went for my big adventure. I was hanging on the streets day long, entering all churches, sneaking in all corners and peeping in every hall. I have this kind of aesthetics: I love to take pictures of windows, doors, small elements – the famous monuments were photographed by professionals million times and much better than I could do it. And I’ve noticed something exceptional, what I could not explain. A sign. It was orange, rusty, very old looking (not old enough to suppose ancient Romans forgot it there). It was a clash, beyond the explanation and understanding. Who did it, and why? Later on, I saw another sign, with crucifixion.
I do not remember, how did I figure out about the sign history. It was a French street artist, Clet Abraham, who put his stickers to the signs across many cities. He does it, as a way to fight against the spoiling ugliness of signs, put everywhere, disregarding the surrounding (before monuments in Rome, like on the picture). Never since I looked at the sign in the same way: I found out a lot of his works, I have the complete collection of pictures of each and every his piece across Milan, and highlights of some works from other cities. People always ask me, where could I find them? Actually they all are in the very center, on the most seen and visited streets. The paradox of street art: it is meant for everybody, but not all notice it.
Now in Rome there is a street, where every sign is retouched by Clet. As I usually joke, in 50 years, when people will finally understand the crucial importance of street art, the street will be name after Clet Abraham, and I will proudly show to my grandchildren the old pictures, made with bad iPhone 3 camera, and tell them, how important is to see, not just to watch.
P.S. I went to say hi to Clet, and the sign is still there, still rusty and orange, even more ancient looking than before – it became the part of the Roman history, glorious, but fading away.

The Every-day Venice

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“Memory’s images, once they are fixed in words, are erased,” Polo said. “Perhaps I am afraid of losing Venice all at once, if I speak of it, or perhaps, speaking of other cities, I have already lost it, little by little.”
Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
So never to loose My Venice, I will never ever tell about it… Just show you some pictures from it’s everyday, simple and cracking life

 

 

Lemon and Basil Pasta

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There is a famous Russian journalist, who dedicated himself to studying island cultures. He claimed, that as every island population developed in insolation, its culture and social norms are so distinctive, that it is not easy for continental people to understand them. As the examples he mentions Japan and UK (he spent 10 years in both countries and claims that British people are quite difficult to go alone with). I don’t know how true it is nowadays, but I am sure that this principle is not applicable to another large island – Sicily. It was conquered so many time, that it is rather a melting pot of people, traditions and cuisines. Specially distinguishing in this sense is Palermo region, which was under strong Arabic influence, and thus features couscous as a traditional dish. And it were Arabs, who brought lemons into Sicily – they started cultivated it on the fertile soil of Etna. Many people trust that exactly due to this volcanic soil and Sicilian lemons have these inimitable sweetness, which born the saying: “Lemons are not lemons unless they are from Sicily”.
Lemons are used in many traditional dishes, like famous Granita. But in the summer a popular dish is past with lemon, as it has rich, refreshing flavor.
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Time of preparation: 20 minutes Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients:
Spaghetti or tagliatelle_________400 grams
Olive oil______________________12 tablespoons
Garlic________________________2 cloves
Red chili_____________________1/2
Basil________________________a handful
Tomato______________________1 big
Lemon______________________ 2
Parmesan___________________40 grams
Butter_______________________20 grams
Salt, Pepper
1. Boil spaghetti in plenty of salted water till al dente. Drain, reserving a splash of cooking water.
2. Chop the garlic and chili; put olive oil into a pan, add garlic and chili and sweat on medium fire for about a minute.
3. One lemon cut in segments, grate the zest and squeeze the juice from another one.
4. Put pasta in the frying pan, add a little bit of cooking water, lemon segments, zest and juice, basil, and cut tomato. Stir, season to taste, and adjust the density with the remaining cooking water. Add grated parmesan and butter. Serve straight away.

Pesto from Genova

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I thought I should complete my small flash-back to Liguria with some eternal classics, namely green Pesto or Pesto alla Genovese (quite predictable, isn’t it?). But almost for a week I have been sitting without writing a line. I wanted to tell a little bit about Genova, but I can’t find the right words. I already mentioned, that it is a city of contrasts, city with drug dealers, prostitutes and people of other doubtful occupation openly managing their business right in the middle of the day. I decided to find a holy place within this seem to be sin city.
In good old time I wanted to name my son Harrison – quite a daring ambition for a Russian mother-tongue. Guess who was the hero of my lifetime? Sure, Indiana Jones. He was so irresistible going to all these incredible places (where the hell they are located?), fighting crowds of evil locals, saving somebody in the spare time, digging out various staff… Couldn’t help thinking of becoming an archeologist, buying the suit of a sand color, and going to search for Graal (or similar).
And here I am in Genova, many years after, in simple white-red and blue dress, with degree in international relations and with Graal in my hands. Ok, ok, not in my hands, but in front my very eyes. And what do you think? It’s GREEN! Moreover, it’s BROKEN! They say it was Napoleon, but I guess they just look for a scapegoat (Sphinx, Graal – too many staff to break for one guy). Pretty incredible, but the Holy Graal is not lost, neither it is hidden… it is simply disposed in the treasury of San Lorenzo Cathedral in Genova, together with many other relicts. Obviously, no photography allowed – but it is a hexagonal deep dish, made out of green transparent glass with a huge hole next to the basement…
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And back to pesto:
Time of preparation: 10 minutes Difficulty: Easy
Ingredients:
Garlic_______2 cloves
Olive Oil_____100 ml
Basil________50 grams
Parmesan___ 70 grams, grated
Pecorino____ 30 grams, grated
Pine nuts____1 tablespoon
1. Chop garlic, put in a food processor. Add basil, a pinch of salt and process for a short time.
2. Pour in oil, process again. Finally add cheeses and nuts, process till mixture is homogeneous. Enjoy!