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Elle Raboff

Elle’s 17th

Elle Ingrid Agnes Raboff was born 17 years ago today at 11:05 a.m. right here in Malmö. The image above is a frame grab from a video I shot during our daughter’s very first hours. We had left the apartment for the hospital (after securing the taxi driver new without a doubt where we needed to go) the night before at around 02:00 a.m. and waited patiently until our daughter decided the time was right to leave the comfort zone of her mother’s tummy.

As a father, you obviously don’t get to experience the physical process of giving birth. Which arguably might be just as well given most men’s intolerance to the level of pain most mothers endure without much fuss. That said, I don’t think I have ever been or will ever be more present and mindful as when the miracle we call Elle entered our lives on this auspicious day, 17 years ago.

Sunflowers

Vincent’s Sunflowers

If you’ve known me for at least three decades, you’ll remember that during my hardcore painter years in Göteborg, I grew dozens of tall sunflowers on my narrow balcony.

It was really spectacular to sit at the small blue wooden table I had out there and be completely enwreathed by all those towering yellow flowers at the pinnacle of their bloom.

I visited the field above on my birthday a few years ago. It’s just outside Arles in Provence and as I was photographing my favorit flower, it struck me that I might actually be walking on the very same ground as a certain troubled dutch painter had circa 130 years ago.

skeleton from the killing fields in Cambodia

The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

A few hours before sunrise, I hired a cab in Phnom Penh to take me to one of the memorial grave site where victims of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge lay. I had seen the movie “The Killing Fields” many years before, and felt prompted while in the capital to visit the site and at least try and understand the horrific brutality and slaughter that was inflicted on so unfathomably many innocent victims, including some 2 million innocent women, children and men.

We don’t really celebrate Halloween here, but today is called “All Saints Day” and as part of an age-old Swedish tradition, people light candles en masse, mostly on graveyards.

flamingos-in-the-camargue

Flamingos a la Camargue

Just by virtue of how their anatomy and color scheme, flamingos are certainly one the most extravagant looking creatures on our planet.

Whoever or whatever designed them must of had a sense of humor. I’m not saying that flamingos are comedic looking. But they do almost have the look of a caricature or a cliché. Looks and colors apart, from an evolutionarily perspective flamingos seem to be perfected for their specific ecology.

I captured this particular specimen, whom belonged to a contingent of hundreds of flamingos, in the Camargue near Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and Arles in Provence, France.

Turning Torso

Light Show on Turning Torso

The European Song Contest is an extremely well-packaged spectacle where questionaable talents get to “strut their stuff” for millions of beguiled viewers across Europe and elsewhere.

It’s like a talent show on steroids with one elaborate number after the other until finally, one of the least amateurish songs gets voted the winner.

On May 9th 2013, as part of the celebration of Malmö hosting the event, a beautiful and elaborate light show was projected directly on Turning Torso’s facade.

As I don’t listen to ESC music as a genre (unless it’s one of the few really good tunes from the 1970s), I instead enjoyed the entire evening walking around and  documenting our neighborhood’s amazing skyscraper being beamed with colorful patterns.

Bodie-California

Ghost Town: Bodie

Originally, I had some pretty ambitious plans for this year’s Halloween. But for a variety of reasons, they didn’t materialize. Ce la vie. I did buy a pumpkin.

Somewhat fitting is therefore this photo from the old abandoned mining settlement, Bodie – likely the most popular ghost town in the United States. I was particularly fascinated by this classroom and the cracked globe. The patina is beautiful. Nature has reclaimed a lot of the town, but it’s still well worth a visit. Especially if you, like me, nerd out on weathered wood, rusty steel and more or less anything not made of plastic.

Bodie’s located in the Bodie Hills east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, not far from Lake Tahoe. I was there with fellow photographer David P about 6 years ago on a whirlwind road trip that went from L.A. through Death Valley, Mono Lake, Bodie, Yosemite, San Francisco and then back to L.A. along the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. If I remember correctly, the trip took about 72 hours and at one critical point, we were going to be heavily fined for speeding – if the Highway Patrol officer that stopped us hadn’t received a dispatch call that demanded he promptly scadoodle – and let us off the hook.

göteborg

View of Göteborg

Here’s the (Leica’s) view from my hotel tonight. It’s an attic room and possibly the most asymmetric I’ve ever stayed in. The room has really tiny windows making it feel just a little claustrophobic. But the great view is a reasonable trade-off.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Göteborg. I feel at home here but I’m dubious about ever moving back. Folks are spontaneously friendly than anywhere else in the country. And I’d argue that the country’s most positive mindset will be found right here. In all, I lived in Göteborg for about 15 years, so I am somewhat of an insider and probably still know my way around here better than I do in Malmö. Yet the city has always felt stagnate somehow. And it hasn’t gotten any better since we moved.

Sure, there are plenty of new stores, cafés, restaurants and hotels, a few minor infrastructural changes and a couple of neighborhoods that have gone through gentrification (Gårda, for one). But that’s pretty much it.

Göteborg is suffering from an unhealthy level of complacency. And to make matters worse, nobody cares.

I suppose my perspective is slanted, since Malmö has seen so much positive change since we moved there twenty years ago. To a degree, even the notoriously pessimistic mindset of Malmöites has changed for the better and there’s clearly a more positive vibe in Malmö today. Which in part probably has to do with the city’s younger generation being more open-minded and extemporaneously outgoing – as well as an influx of companies and folks from other Swedish cities and countries relocating to Malmö.

There’s a tangible pioneering spirit in Malmö that’s really wonderful.

Not sure if I would ever consider moving back to Göteborg. If given the opportunity to live as close to the ocean as we do in Malmö, then maybe. Got to live by the sea, ya know.

Hasselblad

In Gbg – quenching the thirst

I’m in Göteborg for a quickie. Took the fast but surprisingly rickety train up and after arriving – and instead of checking into the hotel – I instead walked briskly in the nippy but sunny Sunday afternoon weather to the city’s only photography museum, Hasselblad Center at the very top end of Gothenburg’s famous promenade, “Avenyn”. If for no other reason than to reaffirm the medium’s importance and perhaps to try to quench my seemingly insatiable thirst for inspiration. The shot above was taken with my iPhone, arguably a more precise photographic reproduction tool and certainly a more versatile camera.

Tomorrow morning, I’m visiting a potential supplier to check out their facilities, how they work and if what they have to offer will add value to my workflow and ultimately how my art is presented to clients.


In the Waves
lobster

Do Avocados Feel Pain?

I’ve never been so mindful as right now when it comes to what I eat.  It’s actually quite interesting to discern and analyze what you put in your body.

About two years ago, I stopped eating beef, pork, poultry and anything on land that walked, flew, slithered or crawled. The transition wasn’t difficult at all and only occasionally – mostly when travelling abroad – do I miss sinking my teeth into a juicy beef burger, sucking on smoked baby back ribs, chewing on bbq pulled pork or stuffing my mouth with half a dozen salty strips of honey crisp bacon. None of the above can be bought at any restaurant I know of in Sweden. Well, at least not in Malmö. So, I’m not often tempted here.

I do eat all kinds of seafood and still can’t fathom how I would ever stop eating raw fish, tuna or any other kind of sushi. Not to mention crab and lobster (which I don’t eat more than once or twice a year to begin with). That said, when I took the shot above, I felt some kind of guilt. Maybe not so much while shooting the lobster, but definitely when we gathered round the table that evening to eat it and all the other shellfish I had photographed for an art project that afternoon.
Guilt can be such a powerful thing and I sincerely dread the day when some Nobel Prize winning researcher discovers that avocados can actually feel pain…
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