Some of the “Resurfaced” artifacts. are more or less colorless when I discover them. Not that there isn’t a hint or any clues of color when I look closely. Augmenting these minuscule telltale signs is part of a delicate process that aims to reintroduce some the colors which have faded through years of exposure to all kinds of weather.
Captured this from a wall in Costa da Caparica, a sleepy, soulful suburb of Lisbon, Portugal. Like many of the places in other southern and eastern European cities that I’ve visited over the last couple of years, just as soon as I leave a big city’s ginormous urban footprint, small-town village life reappears without hesitation or embarrassment. And even there, hints of an even older era can often be seen. And it’s not unusual for me to find some really interesting artifacts in these places. Like the one above.
One of the great beauties of creativity is its unlimitedness. Most of the projects I work on do have a clear scope, a goal in somewhere insight, and often a set deadline which in itself automatically adds to the creative challenge. But not so for my Resurfaced series which is endless insofar that I keep traveling and discovering new surfaces created by a wide variety of unknown contributors. A collective of anonymous people posting stuff on surfaces that over time become an artifact worthy of my collection. Like the piece above, from the learned city of Lund in Sweden.
After listening to Alec Baldwin’s interesting recent interview with Estonian conductor, Paavo Järvi, I was reminded of a tangential subject. Five years ago, I started working on a 240-page coffee table book with 54 interviews and portraits of the folk working behind the scenes at Malmö’s premier cultural institution, Malmö Opera. The book was aptly titled, “We are Malmö Opera/Vi är Malmö Opera” and though I’ve since produced several other books, I still consider the opera book to be my career’s magnum opus. At least so far.
With time, I tend to forget how much effort and affection goes into my book projects. Especially those where the human component is so central. With the opera book, I was thrust into a world where I had very limited knowledge, but over time learned so much about and became in awe of.
A multitude of technical complexities (like lens and lighting choices), thousands of small and large creative options, and months of social interaction and policy navigation made producing content for the book an inspiring challenge. And it’s really only when I dig deep into the vast archive of published and unpublished photographs from that 6-month project, that I fully grasp how tremendous an undertaking it was. According to Bokus, the book is now out of print. But you can read more about the project here: www.operaboken.se
Every summer, one of the village’s many wild meadows gets populated with a dozen or so cows and bulls. During our daily walks to and from the harbor, we pass these gentle summer guests. Seeing them graze so peacefully with the sea as a beautiful backdrop, always gives me a sense of privilege. To experience these wonderful creatures up close is such a great gift. A reminder of how we used to respect the animals that give us so much and the contemptuous behavior we have for them today.
From time to time, I also consider that the summer meadow is the last place the cows will exist in freedom before being trucked to a factory and slaughtered. Yesterday, during our long walk with Lenny on the fresh, crunchy snow, I imagined what it would look like if one of the past summer’s cows had somehow managed to escape when the rest of the herd were removed from the meadow, unknowingly headed towards their final moments as living beings. And so, I call the above image, “The One That Got Away”.
I haven’t made up my mind about the burgeoning lab-grown meat industry. It’s interesting and I’m sure to try a BBQ:e ribeye once it becomes available. But this is kind of like electric cars. EVs are cool and certainly better for the planet short-term. But even when electric cars and trucks become mainstream, will they really help reverse the environmental impact we’ve inflicted on the planet long-term?
There’s just so much energy and raw materials needed to produce an electric vehicle that it’ll take years before today’s embryonic benefits will offset the cost of excavating all the precious materials needed for batteries and the emissions generated from the car industry’s manufacturing process. Not to mention that most of the electricity used to charge all the car batteries, especially in countries like the US, will for decades continue to predominately come from fossil fuel sources.
So, correspondingly, I worry that all the raw material and chemicals needed to produce lab meat (as well as much of the processed ingredients many fake-meat, vegan products contain) won’t justify the means environmentally.
Like most reasonable people my age, The Beatles played an immeasurable part in my musical upbringing. The band’s entire catalog of tunes literally defined pop music as a genre and they set the gold standard for how harmonies, catchy lyrics, and a chorus with a hook should be crafted, sung, and played.
I have never been a Stones fan. It was always The Beatles. More talent, less flare. Better songs, less heroin.
Kenny Stewart, a good friend up the block from me on Alfred Street in West L.A., was of Scottish descent and his parents loved the Fab Four. He and I would sit in his tiny bedroom and listen for hours to the family’s scratchy LP collection with the Beatles. This was back in 1970 or 1971, shortly after John, Paul, George, and Ringo went separate ways.
I never got to see them live, but I have a vague memory of my mother saying that she saw them at the Hollywood Bowl in 1965. I used to own the album Introducing The Beatles, but sadly, like my old Gibson SG Junior, it too was stolen. Possibly during one of my life’s umpteen moves.
I’ve not yet seen Peter Jackson’s new documentary with footage from The Beatles last studio session. But I am planning to do so soon.
Since I began painting in 1986, I’ve had at least a half dozen dedicated studios and combinations of gallery and studio. It’s been a couple of years since I last had a proper space to paint at and I can feel the urge growing. Whenever I see an abandoned interior like the one above from Zadar/Croatia, I try to assess whether or not it would work for me. The very first studio I had in Malmö was in an old brick building on Neptunigatan and it was torn down a couple of years ago. It was huge, had great light, and was reasonably affordable. I do much of my current creative work on a 27″ iMac. But I long to paint on a canvas the size of the wall behind it.
A wonderful shot of us in front of our rented cabin at the Falkensteiner Premium Campsite by friend and Community Manager Forrest Stilin. Just back in Sweden after a few weeks of remote working via Grab a Home in Zadar, a scenic seaside city in western Croatia along the Adriatic Sea. Crossed paths with several interesting fellow coworkers from around the world and thoroughly enjoyed the off-season experience. Even held a couple of energizing Qigong sessions for community members on the beach.
Coincidentally, today is the 25th anniversary of our meeting for the very first time in Göteborg, Sweden back in 1996. It’s been nothing short of an amazing adventure ever since and I feel humbled when I consider how great our lives have turned out thus far. Far greater than either of us could have imagined at the onset and probably better than what each of us could have managed on our own.
Charlotte and I have always had traveling as our highest priority. Together, we’ve visited, as well as experienced living, in many amazing places around the world. And yet, somehow, within our adventures, we’ve also both managed to have two relatively successful careers and raised Elle, our beautiful daughter, who’s now creating an interesting storyline on her own.
A friend recently wrote an interesting piece, the first in a multipart series, about the state of America today. The gist of his very first installment is that we are currently living in an era of hysteria.
I couldn’t agree more.
Hysteria has become a norm, a default state of mind for so many, many people. It’s as if some folks don’t feel alive if there isn’t a reason to get hysterical about something or someone. The media obviously plays a huge part in this drama. They literally feed off every sensational, click-baiting headline they can muster. More hysteria means more ad revenue. I might need to stop feeding the media and find a hysteria-free zone somewhere.
But you don’t have to have a mail-order degree in psychology to deduce that it’s the vial divisiveness on the most popular social media platforms that are fueling the hysteria fire. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. How practically everyone has strong opinions about just about everything these days. Especially the really dumb people that feel compelled to argue vocally about all kinds of stuff.
Like the folks that have previously allowed themselves to get vaccinated nine times without a complaint, but now feel increasingly threatened by even the thought of preventative covid-19 shots. They don’t care about the greater good, if the ICUs are maxed out or if their stupidity means the virus gets a chance to mutate again and again and again. They just don’t give a shite. Instead, these dumb-asses take great comfort in being part of militant antivax groups where nonsense makes sense.
Also a decent song by Def Leopard, a band I listened to for a short while back in the early 1980s.
The image above is called Pacific Blü Resurfaced 1983.
Today I put together a short film from this morning’s Qigong by the Sea, worked on an illustration with a few cows from Vejbystrand, worked on a short fiction story about when a lawnmower exploded a while ago. Oh, and I almost forgot that I also published this blog post with yet another artifact for the Resurfaced series.
Half-jokingly, half-seriously, I like to say that creativity is both a blessing and a curse. Once you get a taste for it and discover that you can be creative in so many, many ways, it’s hard not to find yourself spreading the juice across many spokes in the wheelhouse.
I painted this canvas a couple of years ago in my studio in Malmö. It’s called “Shadowbanning the Koj” and was bought by friends Alexandra and Per in Göteborg, where it’s now hanging in their apartment.
In a recent post, I wrote about how liberating it is to feel fluidity between various creative mediums. And though my computer provides a lot of opportunities to express myself artistically, not even the fanciest of Apple’s offerings will ever be able to remotely come close to the hands-on joy and meditative state I feel when painting.
It’s been a while since I’ve had an easel, a few tubes of paint, brushes, and something to paint on. But I don’t think it will be much longer until I once again return to where my creative spirit was first discovered.
More of my art can be viewed here.
Here’s another discovery from a visit to Croatia – a country I’ve been to a few times and find increasingly agreeable for each visit. Especially Dubrovnic and Zadar, two totally different cities but where both offer visitors an astounding amount of architectural heritage. I found this piece off a wall somewhere in the old town of Zadar, one of Europe’s oldest cities.
COP26 is over. In all honesty, I’ve been mildly interested in the conference. These climate conferences have mostly been PR events ending with agreements that have clearly done way too little to cool the planet. Nothing more. That’s not to say that I haven’t (naively) hoped for a solid plan from the politicians and corporate leaders to begin curbing the global use of fossil fuels and the emissions that are cooking and choking the planet.
This conundrum is obviously complicated. I’d argue that it’s the hardest math problem our species has ever tried to solve. I’m not even sure we can. Why? Well, because there are so many unknown variables in this particular equation.
While I think we actually could immediately lower emissions by drastically reducing the production of non-essential products and services, including all kinds of meat and farmed fish, and, by adding a steep carbon tax on just about anything that isn’t locally sourced and absolutely everything that originates from oil and the entire petrochemical industry, this would still only keep rising temperatures at bay short-term
The world’s population is growing. By 2099 (78 years from now), the projection is that we’ll be just shy of 11 billion people on Earth. That’s close to 3 billion more people than today or, approximately the combined amount of folks living in India and China right now.
I’m starting to think that Elon Musk might be right about moving to Mars.
The big question, the 800-pound gorilla in the corner of our ever-decreasing room, is, should we just cap the population growth for the sake of our species’ future? I mean, will we actually be able to feed all 11 billion hungry mouths, let alone build homes, create jobs, make furniture and supply all the other stuff that we “the privileged” take for granted today, for so many more earthlings? How could that possibly work? I mean, we’ve populated 50-70% of the world’s total landmass already. Where’s everyone going to live and what are they all going to eat? Lab steak? Rice milk? Seaweed salad?
However you slice it or dish it out, from an environmental perspective, COP26 was nothing but a huge fiasco, a failure. Yes, I think Greta was absolutely right when she said it was all blah, blah, blah. But I wonder, how could COP26 have been anything but blah, blah, blah? Decisions that would have had a real, tangible impact on the climate crisis were just too tough for any politician or corporate dude to dare take. How could they without risking the beginning of a global financial meltdown?
How could a CEO of a company like H&M, one of the world’s most successful retailers, tell stockholders that no, sorry, the company’s actually not going to be expanding into new markets anymore? That the leadership team has instead decided to reduce production, lay off workers in stores, close factories, and from now on will only produce collections of clothes, accessories, and furniture using 100% renewable and locally produced material?
Like many other consumer-faced corporations, H&M is dependent on increasing sales, expanding aggressively, high volume turnover, continuous cost-cutting, and streamlining their distribution channels in order to increase, or, at the very least, maintain profitability. Stockholders, especially enormous institutional investors, don’t care about the planet. Not if caring means lower quarterly earnings and plummeting annual dividends.
What politician would dare tell his or her constituents that they now have to make tremendous sacrifices, including putting an end to shopping sprees at H&M, quitting their daily one-click consumption at Amazon, and obsessively renewing gadgets every year at Apple? That they from now on can only eat real meat once a month and have to start taking the bus to work, or, just stay home and learn to get by on a meager UBI? Who’s going to put in place a law that says couples can now only have a single offspring (a la Deng Xiaoping’s one-child policy) and that no, there will be no more two-week all-inclusive holidays at exotic, faraway destinations?
From an existential perspective, I think the only relevant philosophical question is, should I really care about global warming, as it’s unlikely to impact me directly for the remainder of my lifetime? In other words, is it really my moral obligation to be worried and concerned enough to make profound sacrifices today, just to help my grandchildren and their future existential circumstances on the planet, if I’m already gone and at best, a fading memory? Or, should I just enjoy the life I have created for myself and hope/pray that people much, much smarter than me will somehow figure this stuff out? Even if it one day ultimately means abandoning Earth altogether?
Yes, this certainly is a complicated conundrum. There are no easy answers in sight and we clearly have yet another one of them divisive, contentious topics. But just as so many times before, it’s only a conundrum for those of us lucky enough to have time to even ponder an issue like global warming. People literally struggling to survive, be that in Africa, Asia, South America, or the US of A, certainly do not have this luxury. In all likelihood, they will once again see their lives changed by people they’ve never met or heard of.
Above image: “Complicated Conundrum Nr 33(b)”. Part of the Resurfaced series. Shot in Zadar, Croatia.
I realize that most of us have either Spotify or Apple Music and are totally content with the wealth of music both platforms provide. Personally, I get easily tired of these algorithmically generated mainstream playlists.
I mean, I do subscribe to and frequently use Apple Music, even on a daily basis. I listen to Apple Music during my morning shower or at the gym if the BBC Global News podcast ends before my workout routine does.
When I do listen, I usually pick a playlist called “Joakim’s Favorite Mix” which contains some mainstream hits but also a plethora of obscure artists from L.A.’s studio session mafioso and more or less forgotten singer/songwriters.
For the last 15 years, one of my main sources for alt music, at least while working, is San Francisco-based Soma FM. where they have a slew of music channels that offer an astonishingly wide range of genres. None of them mainstream.My favorite stations include Groove Salad and Drone Zone (all instrumental, great for writing). Here are a few of the others.
• Drone Zone – Safe with most medications. Atmospheric textures with minimal beats.
This Resurfaced piece is from Hyderabad, India where almost every wall I came across spoke to me and had something intriguing to look at. Not just because of the language barrier or the natural beauty of Hindi script. It was also the layers upon layers of age along with a plethora of partial messages, torn posters, and bleak ads that made it difficult to cover much ground while I was there.
Our daughter Elle turns 21 today. That’s hard to grasp. Time surely flies when you’re a parent. Twenty years ago today, Charlotte, Elle, and I were living on Karon Beach in Phuket, Thailand where we stayed for almost 10 months.
Elle had already been walking for a while and so the three of us strolled slowly down to a local Thai restaurant where we celebrated her very first birthday. I’m pretty sure some luscious cake or creamy ice cream was served after our dinner.
Traditionally, we celebrate Elle’s birthday together, like last year when we ate covid-era dinner at Kitchen & Table in Malmö. Among the more faraway places we’ve celebrated her birthdays are Marrakech, New York, and L.A.
Sadly, this year, we are many, many miles apart. Hope we get together soon, though. So we can smother our amazing daughter with belated birthday hugs and tell Elle in person that we continue to be proud of and inspired by her.
Here’s an experiment with a Resurfaced artifact composed from a wall in Malmö, Sweden and a full-body selfie shot a few days ago in Vejbystrand, Sweden.
From my vantage point right now, the sun is shining. Figuratively and literally. The recent days have brought forth a steady flow of recognition for the resurfaced project is comforting and strengthening. It’s not for everyone, I realized that at the onset. Art isn’t for everyone. Most folks want what the world’s largest furniture company calls “wall decoration”. Which is totally fine.
Halloween. As a kid, celebrating Halloween in West Hollywood was usually a blast. By the late 1960s, when I was just about old enough to join a bunch of friends for a few hours of parent-free “Trick or Treating”, which quintessentially meant knocking on our neighbors’ front doors begging for candy, Rexall Drugstore, across the street from Kiddieland (the Beverly Center today) had a plethora of cheap mass-produced and heavily marketed Halloween costumes to choose from.
Each costume came in a cardboard box with a plastic transparent window that showed the flimsy face mask inside. Folded underneath the mask was a thin outfit, also made of some kind of plastic. I don’t remember what these boxes cost at the time, maybe under five bucks, but I vividly recall there being long aisles with deep shelves packed from top to bottom with them.
I don’t think I had a particular preference for whom I wanted to dress up as, yet I’m pretty sure that I celebrated at least one Halloween as Batman and one as the daredevil Evil Knievel. I was into capes, I suppose.
By far the scariest gathering of friends during this year’s Halloween begins today at Cop26 in Glasgow where all of the climate meeting’s participating politicians seemed to be (metaphorically speaking) dressed up as ostriches and with their heads buried deeply in the ground.
It’s not an easy gig, this climate crisis. I totally get that. For there to be any real impact, we all need to make huge sacrifices. And herein lay the mother of all conundrums. How the hell do you as a politician explain to voters and donors that some hard truths must be told and that some really tough decisions must be made if we are to avoid future cataclysmic meteorological events, without inadvertently creating a global shit storm as an appetizer?
I’m writing this post from a bed on the 15th floor of a relatively new hotel. I just got back from a tumultuous breakfast hall where hundreds of tired kids and their parents stood politely in line before stacking absurdly tall piles of pancakes, bacon, cheese, pickles and toast on their plates. It was like a factory and it got me thinking about how complex the supply-chain logistics must be for just this one hotel. I have to admit that I kinda missed the good old covid days when I was one of just a handful of hotel guests and enjoyed an amazing level of service and personal space.
Climate guilt. I think everyone feels it. At least to some degree. It’s probably a fleeting thought for most people. It is for me. You think about it and then just continue with life as you know it.
Simply put, the situation is way too troublesome and involuted to get a grip on. Insofar that we acknowledge that Earth is in deep shit, and far from everyone will agree or admit it is, we delegate the responsibility to fix the problems to our politicians. And rightfully so. But if our representatives are in denial or too corrupted to act appropriately, regardless of the heat they’ll feel from voters and donors, we are most definitely in a huge bubble of trouble.
Historically and evolutionarily, our species has accomplished some astonishingly remarkable feats. We have survived and thrived.
So, in the long run, I know we can solve our planet’s climate crisis and still come out on top. But we’ll all have to pull together, be willing to make some serious sacrifices and above all, stop hiding behind cheap plastic masks that obscure our view and distract us from our problems.
Halloween is over folks.
Here’s a Rersufaced artifact with very few clues to the individual postings. Instead, together they create what I think is an awesome whole.
Fear is temporary. Regrets last forever.
Breaking from once’s past in order to fully embrace a new era needn’t mean neither dismissing nor glamorizing what was. Change is generally good. I feel we tend to be way too frightened of the unknown. It’s the cliffhangers that keep me going. Not fear of failure. The fear of boredom.
I’ve set aside going through my many wonderful Resurfaced discoveries from Kyiv/Kiev in order to revamp my film and photography portfolio.
The initial idea was to hire a web developer via Fiverr, which I did…but that idea not only backfired, it was such a disaster, that the fallout pushed back the project for almost two weeks. But I am resolute and confident that by Wednesday this week, I will have a new incarnation up and running.
Highly recommend a visit to the abandoned village of Pripyat and the surrounding villages. Especially this time of year. The tour itself was very well organized with Geiger counters and very little risk, according to the two English-speaking Ukrainian guides. Only on a few occasions – while passing a couple of hotspots – did my metering gadget jump from the normal background radiation of 0,2 to ≈16,000 microsieverts/hr.
We visited several smaller villages on the outskirts of the Exclusion Zone as well as the enormous Dugar Radar before exploring Pripyat, situated just two miles away from the nuclear power plant, and purpose-built to house its workers and their families.
Just 36 hours after the accident, some 43,000 people were evacuated from Pripyat in about 3,5 hours. The local government rented 1200 buses from Kyiv to perform the evacuation.
Most of the residential and commercial interiors have subsequently been looted and severely vandalized. So not much remains intact from 1986. Just junk, really.
Interestingly, officially, there are no tours of the Exclusion Zone or the Reactor 4 area. But since it’s Ukraine, as long as there are people willing to pay for something, almost everything can be arranged. I suppose that’s part of the attraction. Opportunism run amok.
One of our guides told us of how hundreds of the rugs and decorations stolen from apartments in Pripyat and other villages were later identified in bazaars and makeshift markets in as faraway places as Siberia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Apparently, carpets and fabrics easily absorb radiation and many of those from homes in the Exclusion Zone was saturated with odorless, lethal toxicity. So people that bought them several hundred miles from the potentially cataclysmic catastrophe at Reactor 4 eventually fell ill with serious levels of radiation sickness.
The size of the sarcophagus covering the Unit Four Reactor, which exploded in 1986, is just stupendously enormous and could easily house the Statue of Liberty underneath its metal, movable roof. While it was supposed to stabilize the site, which is still highly radioactive and full of fissile material, there are now some worrying signs that the remains could still heat up and leak radiation into the environment again.
Before returning to Kyiv, the tour group had to go through two separate scans to make sure we had not been exposed to dangerous levels of radioactivity.
After returning to my hotel in Kyiv, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of exploitation. Which was something I also felt while at Auschwitz and Birkenau. I don’t know if I’m more enlightened or desensitized now than before either visit. But these tours have surely solidified my feeling that Man (primarily men) are endlessly capable of screwing things up, creating devastation upon each other, and fucking up the planet.
Shot this yesterday evening with my four year old iPhone at the airport in Riga (RIX) just after arriving from Boryspil International in Kyiv (IEV). Once we landed, a rep from Air Baltic firmly but politely instructed me to board the same plane again (above) as soon as I had passed through the rigorous passport, covid, and security checkpoints.
I don’t think that kind of loop has happened to me since a refueling stop in Karachi (Pakistan) several decades ago. I vividly recall a small army of extraordinarily slender Pakistani men wearing dark blue overalls topped with bright red baseball caps, holding a variety of cleaning equipment, stood patiently on a separate platform adjacent to the jet bridge of the PIA jumbojet we were exiting from. I remember thinking that few if any of these young bearded men had ever been in a plane that wasn’t neatly parked on a tarmac.
There couldn’t have been time to clean the cabin yesterday, that’s for sure. Then again, most of my fellow passengers looked like corporate seagulls heading to or from yet another glorious meeting where Powerpoint slide decks were shown and shared ad nauseam. One of them sat next to me and worked on his presentation the entire flight from Kyiv. Everything about him seemed so neat and orderly. Nothing wasn’t carefully mapped out and planned. It was only when he opened his briefcase to put away his notebook before we landed at Kastrup that I noticed total chaos. Which I found in someway found reassuring. He was human, after all.
From a wall somewhere in the central district of Podil in Kyiv. As the Ukrainian capital is 3 or 4 times larger, there are significantly more walls and bulletin boards with public postings than in Tbilisi. That said, I had the feeling that the ones I captured in Georgia were older, more dated and often had thick layered texture. On the other hand, and I’m obviously guessing here, at least some of the Ukrainian postings were more personal. Quite a few were even written in beautiful longhand.
For all the shitty stuff the various flavors of Communism have represented thus far, the commie’s propaganda machine has always been much better at crafting powerful symbolism and manifesting it publicly, than any other political system I can think of besides the Nazis and, possibly the Roman Empire.
The US was absolutely fabulous at crafting and promoting effective propaganda prior to and during WWII. But I think the government lost its way shortly thereafter. And in today’s divisive, uber-cynical, unforgiving cancel-culture, American society, what isn’t propaganda?
You have to be severely ignorant not to know how brutal comrades Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, and the Castro brothers were and how tyrannical their successors continue to steer their countries.
Today, I’d argue that the only country left (pun intended) still producing noteworthy propaganda is General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and President of the State Affairs Commission, i.e. Respected Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong-un.
Now, I wonder if his team of artists, graphic designers, and desktop publishers are using the exact same Adobe Creative Cloud apps as I am. Probably. The question that keeps me up at night is whether or not they’re using cracked versions of Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, or. if they actually have a subscription paid for by Kim.
Found this star by the Duga Radar in the Exclusion Zone near the nuclear powerplant at Chernobyl, Ukraine.
It’s the fragmented clues, strewn all over and layered on a surface that gets me excited about a wall like this. The curled snippets, faded, barely legible, just pieces. That’s what intrigues me. The unknown. The unsolvable. A series of mysteries. There’s so much soulfulness in our desperate need to communicate, anywhere, anyplace. That’s Resurfaced.
I am out and about again. It’s hard not to fly, even if I know that I shouldn’t contribute to the lifestyle that is fucking up the planet. But it’s hard as hell not to travel again. One livable planet, one livable life (as far as we know, anyway).
I captured the above image at Riga’s International Airport a few days ago. Shortly after the shot was taken, a plump woman in a tight uniform told me that it was forbidden to photograph planes at the gate and that I needed to instantly stop what I was doing. Surprised, I shrugged, packed down my camera gear, and strolled over to the tiny bar adjacent to the gate, ordered a cold, refreshing beer, pulled down my mask, and gulped half of it down in one take. Travel ain’t what it used to be.
This composition is an excellent example of what my project is all about. It’s from a wall in the Mtatsminda neighborhood of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where the profusion of layered public postings made each day’s urban trek an exhilarating experience. Only when daylight faded did I quit my exploration of the city and potential compositions for my Resurfaced series.
In most cases, function has higher priority than form. But form can also be an incredibly important part of function. Something that’s easy to hold and use has a thought-through form/function ratio. Consumer companies, at least their industrial design teams, have to keep this in mind to be competitive. We’ve all become so aware cognizant of design and how aesthetics can determine the ease of use of an app, a phone, a camera.
When I saw this stairwell not too long ago, I wondered who decided to put in church-like stained windows instead of, well, just normal glass. And what made the architect or developer of the property choose a staircase that was so generously wide and tall? And who chose that gorgeous green color?
There are obviously added costs when you add features. Especially if the add-ons aren’t actually adding anything. But when I walked up and down these beautiful stairs, I could understand how the people that lived there would enjoy using them. There’s a level of generosity gone lost in much of today’s residential architecture. Too much function and rarely any form to speak of. In order to produce as rationally and cost-effectively as possible, form has at best become an afterthought. Sometimes at the expense of function.
A lavatory in economy class on a regional plane is a good example. Super-functional insofar that everything you need is right there. But it’s squeezed into such a tiny space, that even if it’s hyper-functional, it’s also hyper-claustrophobic. Now when you’re lucky enough to sit in Business Class during a long-haul flight, the restrooms are usually somewhat larger in size. The WC designer has been provided a bit more room to add some form to the small space’s functions, making the experience, if not enjoyable, at least a little less unpleasant and easier to get done what you have to get done in there.
This composition enthralled me. There is something biblical about it. Not in a religious sense, though. More so in the story, it was intended to narrate but is no longer able to communicate. At least in a meaningful way. As is the case quite often, beauty is in the details. Together they create an enigmatic picture worthy of inclusion in the Resurfaced series.
A couple of years ago, a friend brought me a small cardboard box. It was roughly the size of an A4 paper and had belonged to my aunt Lillemor Andersson before she died in 2014. It contained a wide range of letters, photographs, postcards, and other more or less significant documents pertaining to my mother’s side of the family.
My grandma Agnes was a de facto mother to me, so any image with her in it is always heartfelt. Before today, I had never seen a family portrait like the one above with my mother and her sisters gathered in it. I don’t know when the photograph was taken, but judging from Lillemor’s young age, she was born in 1944 and was the youngest of her siblings, it must have been sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
My mother, Solveig/Cissi/Ina was 13 years older and aunt Elvy, the oldest of the girls, was born in 1926. It’s Elvy’s husband, Stig Starrsjö next to my grandfather Eskil looking down at her. He was one of several father figures in my younger years. Uncle Stig was a sweet man with a giant heart and a creative spirit.
The only surviving member of the Andersson clan in the photo is the seclusive Lillian, born 1938 and apparently living somewhere along Sweden’s west coast.
I love this photo and can only imagine what it must have been like getting everybody together, deciding clothes, positions, fixing the lighting, and coaching the group to smile for the shot to convey at least a brief sense of congeniality, however fugacious it may have been before and after the final frame was exposed. I wonder what camera was used. I’m not in touch with Lillian these days, but, boy, would I love to hear her memories of this historical Andersson family session!
Meanwhile here in Vejbystrand…the rain is falling, the wind is blowing and the temperature is steadily dropping. After a reasonably creative year, despite all kinds of stuff going in and around my life, I’m trying to stay afloat and keep the creative juices flowing. I still live by my old, handcrafted motto, “Never do Nothing”but with the fall upon us and the winter nearing, I’m feeling a little creativly claustrophobic in our tiny, beautiful village.
From a wall somewhere during my visit to the incredibly interesting city of Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. Despite looking somewhat similar to my eyes, it turns out that Georgia’s beautiful script with its curly curves is not in any way related to the Burmese script’s many circular characters. It’s purely coincidental. A friend told me that the youngest of the texts in this “resurfaced” piece is about an Aikido Federation announcement and is approximately a decade old. So my lofty idea of preserving public postings like these, however legible or layered they may be – and the more layered the better, I say – seems to have some validation.