The Tourist Conundrum

I think a lot about tourism and how it has unavoidably impacted our planet. Especially in this day and age. Because we travel so much for work, it’s certainly become a guilty pleasure. But even if it’s arguably crucial to our small company’s very existence, our travels are needless to say not as important as if we were working for UNICEF, WHO or a humanitarian NGO.

Every day of the week, several big-ass tour buses full of Chinese passengers park just a few hundred feet away from my studio. Once the driver opens the bus doors, they all eagerly file out and start taking selfies with the Turning Torso in the background. The visitors from China are likely on a short tour of Scandinavia and have flown in from Asia to Copenhagen’s Kastrup International Airport. Malmö is probably just a side trip, an excursion among many during the group’s visit to northern Europe.

When I moved to Sweden in 1978, I was amazed at how big an impact American “culture” had here. From television shows (Dallas, How the West was Won, Happy Days) and fashion (Wrangler/Levis/Lee jeans), to food (burgers, pizza, chips) and music (Toto, The Jacksons, EWF).

Not at all that I assume visitors from China make a similar reflection. But I do wonder if they are aware of how their country’s massive manufacturing industry has impacted culture here in Sweden and elsewhere.

The video above shows a compressed version of the creative process for my latest piece, The Tourist Conundrum. All of the images used (about 30) were shot during our visit to Spain a few weeks ago, starting with a young Chinese tourist I saw standing outside a small hotel as we were walking towards an unauthorized museum exhibit of street art by Banksy.