Female Gential Mutilation

Female Genital Mutilation
From a visit to a Maasai village in the Maasai Mara National Reserve a couple of years ago. As this was my first visit to the Mara, I wanted to visit what I was told would be an authentic Maasai village, however touristy and staged I assumed the experience was going to be.
 
While most villagers were kind and friendly, one of the young males, the fellow standing to the far left wearing a lion headdress, had a blatantly aggressive attitude. I wrote it off as a schtick, an act to emphasize his alpha male status among the other men (and me).
 
I couldn’t resist but ask about female genital mutilation (FGM) within the Masa communities. According to our guide, though still practiced, it was on the decline throughout this male-dominated society. 

After some research, I learned that traditionally, Maasai men won’t even consider marrying a young Maasai woman if she has not had her genitals circumcized. Only after going through this painful and often life-threatening ritual would women, mostly barely sexually mature young girls, be allowed to partake in cultural celebrations and have their future children considered legitimate.
 
Despite attempts to eradicate this horrific tradition, according to a 2018 United Nations estimate, because of population growth, the number of girls mutilated each year could rise from the current 3.9 million to 4.6 million by 2030. That’s roughly the entire population of women in a country like Sweden.
 
Central African Republic, Kenya, and Egypt top the list of culprits, but there are many other countries in Africa and Asia that practice Female Genital Mutilation including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India. In the Maldives, mutilating women’s genitals – as part of a coming of age ritual – is legal and therefore sanctioned by the government.
 
For all the good intentions and funding aimed at eradicating diseases like malaria, cholera, and aid going to other important causes, I really can’t understand how we in 2019 can accept that so many millions of women are forced to go through female genital mutilation. As a human, a man and a father to a daughter, I feel ashamed on behalf of all the men in the world that inflict this on women. And I feel really sad that we literally shy away from this issue.
 
Ridding the planet from such a senseless, brutal practice should be priority number one for all humanitarian NGOs as well as the UN and WHO.
 And we should all boycott countries that openly allow this torture.
 
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-singapore-fgm-asia-factbox-idUSKCN12D04E
 
https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/fgm/prevalence/en/
Bamboo Fores in Kyoto

Kyoto’s Bamboo Forest

From the bamboo forest on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I’m so intrigued with the country, but I really love visiting Japan and hope to visit again sometime later this year. I suppose I say that about a lot of places, mostly because I’m constantly thinking about places I’ve been, some of which I wish to return to. Check out my collection of images from Tokyo/Kyoto here.

joakim's studio

In the studio

I’ve been painting a lot recently. More than in a long, long time and it feels absolutely terrific. Especially recently when friendly, yet seemingly random customers have literally strolled in to the studio to buy one of my paintings.

Selling an art piece is the ultimate proof that what you’re doing, what you’ve created from nothing more than a white canvas, actually has some kind of right to exist – that the many hours spent working on it is appreciated to the degree for peope to spend some of their hard-earned, ridiculously high-taxed income on just to buy it from me and then hang it on a wall in their home. It spurs me to continue – just I am sure it does for almost every visual artist.

friends

Friends Reunited

So here’s a few snapshots from last weekend’s reunion with my old buddies Tommy Sahlin, Joakim Eklund, Jonas Bratt and Lars Olemyr. Only a handful of people know me better than this troupe and an even smaller tribe can make me laugh as hard. Friend Erik Schneider (upper right square), a wine bar owner and sommelier par excellence joined us for a couple of hours of wine tasting before, during and after dinner. His contribution was much appreciated.

Talad Noi in Bangkok

In action @taladnoi

Here’s a composite of two different images from the same afternoon in Bangkok. I had told photojournalist Thomas Engström and his wife Lena about a really funky area near Chinatown called Talad Noi that was literally filled with auto parts and invited them to join me on the tail end of a photo shoot I was doing there with a local model in a ballerina outfit.


Blast from the past: High School Hamlet

I just spent the weekend here in Malmö with four of my oldest friends from High School in Göteborg, just a couple of years after I moved from L.A.

Together with Lars Olemyr, Jonas Bratt, Joakim Eklund and Tommy Sahlin (whom I’ve known since 1975 when I from time to time visited Sweden), we’ve eaten and drunken well and enjoyed a plethora of ancient, yet nonetheless laughter triggering anecdotes as we strolled merrily down memory lane.

In addition to an introductory course to Qigong on the 54th floor of the Turning Torso and a visit to Ribersborgs Kallbadhus (a beautiful, rustic seaside bathhouse and restaurant), we also watched the above video.

Excuse the crappy quality, but for the initiated, this is an epic throwback to when we were cast in Jonas Bratt’s contemporary interpretation of William Shakespeare’s drama, Hamlet (where I play Horatio very badly). Yes, that’s younger me with curly hair holding Hamlet (played by Nicklas Giertta).

Vibes Västra Hamnen

Summertime DJ Gig

There was a time when I was a fairly sought after disc-jockey. For a couple of years, before I grew tired of all the late nights and smoke-filled nightclubs, I toured southern Sweden with two CD cases brimming with what I still consider to be some of the best music ever recorded. Fundamentally, my preferred genre was soul and all the cousins therein – including soothing R&B, Funk and danceable Pop.

Once in while I’ll take on a gig if for no other reason to share my favorite tunes at a bar, restaurant and almost any place where good music is welcome. In about three months, if your in the vicinity of the restaurant above, you’ll likely hear a few delicately chosen tracks by Sam & Dave, Aretha, Marvin, Chaka and Blackness. Stay tuned for date and time.

K Breaches Destiny

New Piece

Naming my art pieces has always been  something I enjoy doing. This particular painting’s name comes from a mix of Kafka and actual Niigata koi fish that I saw swimming in a pond in Siem Reap last fall. Some of them were breaching the pond water and splashing about – as if they knew nothing of the gravity pulling them back in to the murky water or how limited their life would be should they succeed at jumping out of the water and onto the finely cut gravel where I stood and studied them.

Elle's Driver's License

Elle’s Driver’s License

Early this morning, Elle Ingrid Agnes Raboff, our 18 year old daughter, got her driver’s license with flying colors. That might not seem much of biggie if you’re in the US of A where the local DMV will issue a license without much fuss. But here in Sweden, to get behind the wheel of a car is a pretty big deal with an almost preposterous amount of traffic rules and regulations. Stuff you need to learn for both the theoretical test and then prove you comprehend during the practical examination – which takes place on busy urban streets and even busier highways.

So, Charlotte and I are super happy for Elle. And more importantly, extremely proud of our wonderful daughter!

the turning torso

New Art

This is a piece I finished a couple of days ago. It’s an acrylic painting on canvas (100 x 140 cm) where I’ve added elevating structure to the surface and made use of the repetitive window patterns to create an abstract landscape.

I call it the Turning Torso Conundrum to reflect how the building’s asymmetrical form and shape isn’t so easily defined or pigeon-holed. Which in turn is something I can easily relate to.