Bang! Bang!

Bang! Bang!

After living with so many months under the shadows of big, bold headlines conveying disaster, tragedy, and destitution related to the pandemic, you end up expecting nothing less when you log on to NYT, SVD, or LAT. Classic conditioning. Our unconscious friend is still unconscious and we are still hoping for a miraculous turnaround – but preparing, mostly subconsciously, for sadness.

Forty Five

Resurfaced in Vietnam

Keeping a lookout for exteriors to “resurface” has certainly added an investigative dimension to daily life. Not that I still don’t constantly compose scenes, that’s a hard habit to quit. But looking for interesting combinations of weathered and decayed surfaces to resurface makes even mundane strolls and chores a bit more purposeful and interesting. This wall is from Vietnam.

revolution

Artist Statement

I’ve been crafting my artist’s statement for a while now. Not actually writing anything. More thinking and pondering what it is I want to say and why I want to say it. The purpose of an artist’s statement is to clarify a vision and the reasoning behind a particular project or collection of themed work.

My ongoing series, “Resurfaced” is both a counter-reaction to my diminishing interest in the easily attainable – aesthetically pleasing but boring images – and a growing delight in what most regard as deterioration, decay, and disrepair. When I see an old wall, I don’t just see an old wall. I look at it with imaginative interest to see if it somehow speaks to me and has a story to tell. As most surfaces that I document are located outdoors – mostly in a public space – I know that over time the composition’s original elements will consequentially change; paint fades, concrete cracks, posters tear, and so on.

Read my statement here. View the Resurfaced series here.

Gelato Bergamo

Italian Gelato Made In Sweden

I shot this about 10 years ago in northern Italy. We were there to research a story about Bergamo for a Swedish travel magazine (Allt om Resor) and relished in great food and drink during the entire week. Best of all was the abundance of gelato shops and best of the gelato shops gelato was – and still my favorite – pistachio flavored gelato. I mention this since I’ve just been hired to produce an inspiring short film about a brand new gelato brand, made in Sweden with Italian ingredients and an old school, traditional recipe. I was provided with a sample after meeting with the client and can vouch for that their gelato would compete extremely well amongst the best gelato made in Bergamo or elsewhere in Italy.

Canola Fields Vejbystrand

Canola Fields Vejbystrand

Shot earlier today during an excursion around the village. We had to drive around a bit before finding a few adjacent fields. They seem to be fewer and further between here – when compared to deeper south and southeast in Skåne. Love how the flowers smell and on a nice warm day like this, with barely no wind, the rich yellow color is almost hypnotic.

chaos

Infected Friend & Chaos

A composition I located yesterday on yet another anonymous, interesting surface somewhere in Lund, Sweden. The layered, cluttered chaos intrigues me. I suppose pieces like this attract me as I live – elastically – between a reasonable amount of structure and uncontrollable chaos. Creatively, that is.

Mere days after pointing out here that I have yet to personally know of anyone that had been infected by Covid-19, did we learn that a friend is now hospitalized, unconscious, and breathing through a respirator.

We haven’t seen him or his wife since last spring, when Elle graduated High School, but this very sad news obviously shoved Charlotte and myself into a state of shock – just as I assumed it would. Our hopes and thoughts are with him and his family. Everybody, please be safe out there.

Farm in Sweden

Fleeing the Fields

Shot this yesterday afternoon during a 10k walk along the sea and through a couple of farms. Fleeing the fields for a couple of days. Work calls me back to Lund for yet another podcast episode. I am hosting/moderating yet another discussion between three distinguished gentlemen and automotive experts.

sheep mentality

The Meltdown, Sheep Mentality & Colin’s Words of Wisdom

The Financial Times, one of the most conservative and well-regarded newspapers in the world, has this comprehensive report on how badly the Trump administration has handled the coronavirus pandemic.

 Interestingly, the article is free to read – not at all hamstrung by FT’s paywall. One paragraph that shocked me thoroughly: “South Korea, which has a population density nearly 15 times greater and is next door to China, has lost a total of 259 lives to the disease. There have been days when America has lost 10 times that number. The US death toll is now approaching 90,000.”

One could argue that the paper is using its piece as clickbait, but that perspective only holds true if you are so infected with the Trump virus that you no longer can see, hear or think about stuff like this coherently. Which, I am afraid, is the case with many, many people. Herd mentality can be extremely dangerous. It eventually encourages you to stop thinking independently and seeking only truths and sources that reinforce the herds’ unified perspectives, ideals, and code of conduct.

Here’s some solid advice worth sharing from yet another respected source, Colin Powell.

“The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad. The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.

Consider this: Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere.

With some people you spend an evening with, others you invest it.

Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.

Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends.

Yes…do love, appreciate, and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first
and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above.

 Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
― Colin Powell

Cool factoid about Mr. Powell: he renovates old Volvos and Saabs in his spare time.

Vejby Baby T-Shirts for 2020

2020 Vejby Baby Tees

Here’s our new Vejby Baby t-shirts. Until further notice, these Fruit of the Loom cotton tees can be purchased exclusively at Sandgårdens Skafferi in Vejbystrand. I delivered 27 t-shirts in various sizes and hues to Therese yesterday afternoon. So if you’re a fan of Vejbystrand and want share the love, get ‘em while they’re hot!


NEW PODCAST

In this episode, the participants are Robert Falk, CEO of Einride, Peter Janevik, CEO of Asta Zero and until recently a member of the Board of Directors of Terranet, as well as Christian Larsson, an expert in autonomous and advanced driver support systems at AFRY and Product Manager at Terranet.

The episode’s guests provide insightful thoughts on some of the challenges facing today’s and future autonomous vehicle systems. A topic that has become extremely relevant considering the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversation is in Swedish.

Grand Hotel Lund

Aquatically Reinvigorated in Lund

Back in Lund again to shoot an elevator pitch. Also hosting a podcast about the current state and future of autonomous vehicles with three expert guests, Robert Falk, CEO för Einride, Peter Janevik, CEO för Asta Zero and until recently board member of Terranet and Christian Larsson, expert på advanced driver assistance technology at AFRY and SVP Product Management at Terranet. You can enjoy the podcast here (in Swedish).

I’m fairly sure 154 is my fifth room here at Grand. Once I’ve experienced one I like, I tend to stay put for a while before moving on to the next. While 154 is smaller than the others, I appreciate the front-facing view, blue tapestry, and the full-length bathtub. The bathroom in 154 is tiny, much smaller than in any of the other rooms. The small size reminded of the bathroom in my old bachelor pad in Göteborg at Vidblicksgatan 5. Though small, it too had a full-size tub in which I spent many hours.

We haven’t lived in an apartment equipped with a tub in just shy of 20 years. So I make sure to book a room with one whenever and wherever I can. Tonight, after dinner and before bed, I slid into the warm bathtub, got comfy, and listened to the latest episode of The Daily from the New York Times with excellent host Michael Barbaro. I’m fully aware that the “Times” is a liberal-leaning outlet, but their quality of journalism, especially in the human-interest genre, is nonetheless top-notch.

Tonight I’ll be re-watching Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins in the brilliant adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption. Spread over 25 years, this is probably the fifth or sixth time I’ve seen it. One of the few advantages of growing older is that I tend to forget bits and pieces of some of my favorite movies. They’re not totally unpredictable – heck, I’m not that old yet. But rewatching them, even after just a few years, is usually long enough for me to have forgotten some of the story’s details and plot twists. It’s kinda comforting when none of the stuff on Netflix, HBO, SVT intrigues me.


Morning Qigong

From earlier this morning after a long walk. Charlotte filmed me doing one of my favorite morning Qigong exercises in our small enchanted forest aka Trollskogen. The “Connecting Sky & Ground” is a simple enough move to learn, yet it’s also wonderfully effective at activating key muscles and ligaments in the knees and thighs as well as throughout the torso. I use it primarily in the morning as part of an hour-long session. By the way…Qi means energy and Gong means movement or moving. Qi-Gong is therefore loosely defined as moving energy. In this case, the energy you have stored in your body and should release in order to feel less stiff and more fluid.

Vejbystrand on the Rocks

The Known and Unknown

From yesterday’s walk along the beach here in Vejbystrand. Cold, windy yet stunningly beautiful. So far, far away from the turmoil and chaos of many of the world’s great cities and many of my favorite destinations. Thankfully, neither Charlotte or I know of anybody that has caught the virus yet. I doubt that statistic will hold indefinitely. It’s kind of like with Trump supporters, you know they are out there, in droves, even. And one day, you might actually meet someone that has been infected with his venomous rhetoric. If and when that day arrives, I’m guessing it’s going to feel a lot like being in an episode of the original Twilight Zone.

I speak to a lot of Americans – wherever I am. I just can’t help myself. As soon as I hear an American accent (or, a Canadian), I’m in their face asking them where they come from, where they’ve been and where they are heading. Yet oddly, so far, I’ve not come across a real-life MAGA supporter in any of my travels. Not that I survey the political views of people I meet when abroad…but still.

I’m well aware that there are tens of millions of “normal” Americans among his base. Most seem to cherrypick the stuff that serves their personal narrative and agenda and just ignore much of what comes out of his chaotic, erratic and dysfunctional administration, and the endless flow of mostly degenerate, often racially charged, quips and tweets he heaves round the clock.

I doubt I’ll meet a Trump supporter in Vejbystrand. The locals here are way too sensible to bite into the pile of crap he’s trying to feed the rest of the world. No, to get someone that can coherently defend the blustering, self-congratulatory, master conman, I’d have to fly to the States. And that ain’t going to happen for quite a while. Hopefully, by the time it becomes doable, there’ll be a new president. An older dude, for sure. But at least one with the right stuff: decency, empathy, and intelligence.


Information Overload

From a wall somewhere in Lund. I think the abundance of layers in this particular piece speaks volumes to me about the tsunami of information we are wading in right now. I feel a bit overloaded and need to ration my intake.

Puppy

Puppy Love

Today we visited a small, family-run kennel a couple of hours from Vejbystrand. Charlotte’s been yearning for a dog for several years and she’s finally narrowed down her choice of breed to the incredibly cute and lovable Dachshund. This will be our third dog after a Miniature Schnauzer and Standard Schnauzer, both of which – like the Dachshund – is of German descent and were once primarily used to capture badgers and rats. The new dog’s name? Lennart.

Farmer Joakim

Growing Stuff and Thinking of Eskil & Agnes

I don’t know exactly why, but I feel proud somehow that my Grandfather and Grandmother were farmers.

There’s something inherently honest about farming. It’s so fundamental to our existence and makes most of today’s professions seem constructed, superficial and retroactively rationalized – until we don’t even question their actual usefulness anymore. 

Come to think about it, most modern occupations only exist as a consequence of our way of life – not because they’re quintessential or critical to our ability to survive as a species.

I have vividly fond memories of staying with Grandpa Eskil and Grandma Agnes as a young boy. Fact is, of all my childhood memories, the couple of years I spent with them – spread over a five or six-year period – were among my best. Now, I don’t know if I’m romanticizing those visits because living with my mother was such a fucking nightmare. Probably. In any case, Grandma Agnes was always extremely kind, gentle, and loving towards me. Which was something I had little experience with but likely helped me gain insight into what selfless love looked, sounded and, felt like.

When I visited, during the early and mid-1970s, the farm was winding down. The cows, chickens, and horses were gone. Ingo, the cute but horrendously smelly Beagle, was still around. Grandpa Eskil, a hopelessly macho man with a prosthetic leg and short temper, still hunted moose and plowed the few fields he had left with an old Volvo tractor and harvester. Eventually, the car manufacturer SAAB absorbed the remaining fields…and so, after their farming days were over, there wasn’t much left for my grandparents to do but get older and eventually pass on.

Aside from those visits to my mother’s parents and growing sunflowers on a balcony in Götebrog when I lived there, I have zero experience in farming. But somehow it feels almost inevitable that I would at some stage in my life explore what it’s like to grow at least some of my own food. And I can’t think of a more apt time than right now to learn how to cultivate at least a few tasty veggies. I’ve got a lot of organic seeds to plant over the next couple of days.


Canola Season

Here’s a video I shot for Erik Schneider a couple of years ago. I came to think of it as I was riding the train today through amazing yellow fields.

Hopeful in Lund

Back in Lund today. Sunshine everywhere. Hard to think apocalyptically when the weather is so damn wonderful. Spoke to an old buddy who’s a lawyer and he’s keeping busy. Lots of separations and negotiations. Ae we are holding our breaths? Is the situation going to get a lot worse before getting better?

Another friend told me of a new Swedish airline starting up soon. Sounds hopeful. I feel hopeful. Optimistic, even. Perhaps I’m in denial and not even aware of it. I don’t let my mind swerve too much of Sanity Lane. What purpose would that serve? None. Another friend told me he enjoyed not having to deal with crowds. That he didn’t miss having to share public spaces with others. I totally get that. Like the author Charles Bukowski once wrote, “It’s not that I don’t like people. I just feel better when they’re not around”.

I think that’s pretty much the collective sentiment of my demographic right now.

Shot the above while wandering aimlessly around town this afternoon after the shoot. I tried really hard to get lost today. But Lund is just too small.

Yoga

Yoga & Qigong

I made this collage for a client a while ago. I used a bunch of photos from different yoga shoots in the old studio (the one next to Turning Torso in Malmö) and then removed the white background in order to create silhouettes of the model which I then added color to.

Now that the sun rises so early, I have no problem waking up at the crack of dawn. My new studio is the smallest I’ve had yet but it is still roomy enough to allow me to practice every yoga pose and Qigong movement I know of. When in Lund, depending on the room I am assigned at the hotel and because I never bring my yoga mat, I stick to a half-hour or forty minutes of intense Qigong.

Charlotte was still asleep when I returned energized and ready to take on the day’s projects. I’m still amazed at how much energy I enjoy after an hour of Qigong and Yoga. I hope to soon be able to practice outdoors on the deck. Or, somewhere in the meadow.

guggenheim museum new york

Idiocy & Kleptocracy

Ok, here we go…my Tuesday rant…

You don’t have to be a neurosurgeon, a political science major at a community college or even a uniquely intelligent goldfish to grasp that Donald J. Trump is failing miserably and will prove to be the worst possible president a country, any country, could ever have during a crisis – any crisis.

Not only has he consistently politicized his more or less coherent virus briefings, some of which have been chock full of thoughts, ideas, and analysis that make the man seem as if he’s been snorting huge quantities of bleach, he is now also attempting to cleave the nation even further by openly deciding which states to provide financial aid to based on if they are red or blue. Really? The reoccurring question: is there really no limit to how much shit a 73-year-old can discharge?

From today’s New York Times:

Mayor Bill de Blasio accused President Trump on Tuesday of “stabbing his hometown in the back” by saying that states hit hard by the virus and run by Democrats should not count on what the president called “bailouts” from the federal government.

In an interview with The New York Post published Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said that it would be “not fair to the Republicans” to give large infusions of aid to states with Democratic governors “that have been mismanaged over a long period of time.”

Like almost no other country in the world, the United States has been hit remarkably hard by the Covid-19 virus. And now, as the pandemic is spreading throughout the country, way beyond big cities and their urban sprawl, some predict that the worse is yet to come.

And while Trump & Co are trying ever so hard to deflect their gross negligence and cavernous ineptitude by blaming China as well as the Dems (clearly interchangeable enemies), the weight of the country’s fragmented, profit-driven health care industry is clearly showing an inability to provide necessary help to the tens of thousands of diseased patients – many of which are among the poorest of the poor. Which in itself is probably the main reason why so many have been so incontrovertibly devastated by the virus in the first place. I mean, it’s not like the healthcare was functioning before this all happened, or, that there wasn’t already an opioid epidemic, a mass-shootings epidemic – not to mention a poverty crisis which has largely been driven by racism – which in turn has only been made worse by the current bigot-in-chief.

It seems pretty clear to me that if a country like India has the ability to contain the virus more efficiently than a developed nation like the US of A, the world’s (former?) most powerful economy, there’s something fundamentally awry with the management team running said country.

Sure, we can all play along with the blame game and point fingers at China, Iran, or even North Korea until doomsday knocks on our doors. But it still doesn’t remove the fact that it was Mr. Trump calling the shots from the Oval from the getgo – and that he has proven time and time again to be too asinine to helm the country – even under “normal” circumstances.

Let’s get one thing straight. I think the United States of America is a great country. I mean that with 100% sincerity. The US has always been a fabulously interesting experiment with tremendous ambitions, incredible successes, and a plethora of unbelievable failures and ongoing shortcomings. The cultural multiplicity and geographical diversity are among many, many allures. But politically, at least on a federal level, the country is in really, really bad shape. Not just because the dude in the White House is a narcissistic kleptocrat, either. Much of those on either side of the aisle in Congress are so out of touch with reality, at least the reality that most Americans live within, so filthy rich and corrupted by their power addiction, they are clearly disinterested in creating any real change that will provide long-term, positive impact. Congess is too focused on reelections, pleasing lobbyist, and political mud fights. And I think millions of Americans are getting to the point where they’re just fed up with well-crafted rhetoric and the political tug o’war that leads absolutely nowhere.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if when fall nears and the election craze kicks into full gear, there will be social disruption like we’ve never ever seen before. And I’m actually a bit worried, cause I don’t think it would be beyond Trump to ignite a fire in order to stay in power – regardless of how it goes for him electorally. I’m predicting here and now that as we move closer to November, we’ll also see several political movements stemming from States that are seeking to sever ties with DC and secede the union. Why wouldn’t California or Texas want to become independent nation-states?

I don’t know exactly why, but somehow the Guggenheim in New York photographed October 2018, seemed like a fitting image to accompany today’s rant.