New Apples

Some New Apples
Here’s our apple tree right now. It’s literally bulging with Pink Lady-esque apples. I’ve made a batch of apple sauce with some, but there’s just too many, so we’ll probably have a local company help us make a few jugs of cider with the rest. Or, dry them in a hydrater.

Today’s Apple Day. Not the fruit, but the company with Newton’s fruit of knowledge symbol. I’ve been an Apple customer since 1990 and even if it’s been many years since the company lost it’s “friendly rebel“ status and became a corporate behemoth and uncurbed producer of all kinds of more or less significant consumer stuff, most of which is far, far from being the creative tools that I was originally mesmerized by, I can still get a little excited when a product I use is due to be refreshed.

So, later tonight, I’ll probably watch the product launch of the year’s crop of new iPhones and other gadgetry. My phone is 3 years old and still does what I need it to do without complaints. So I don’t think an update is necessary. I might anyway, though. The wide-angle lens and night photography features would be nice to have.

circle of life

Circle of Life

Like a child, not yet privy to the circle of life, I felt a sudden sadness for the bird. I wondered how or why its life had ended on this beach in Vejbystrand. Did it die at sea and was washed ashore?

Did the bird’s existence end from old age or illness? Had it flown too far, or, as Icarus, too close to the sun, suddenly surprised by heat asthenia, its tired wings that would no longer carry the toilsome weight between them? Perhaps it then fell from the sky, landed in the shallows, and was then gently washed up onto the sand.

The bird’s flesh was gone and much of its thin bones had withered. What remained were feathers of which the wind would soon blow away. Leaving only a memory. And a photograph.

Sliperiet Gylsboda Book

New Book: Sliperiet Gylsboda

Charlotte shot these images during my talk at  the book release yesterday afternoon. My 18th book is about the people and their creative deeds at the art and culture center Sliperiet in scenic Gylsboda, Skåne, Sweden.

The book conveys in words and pictures part of the area’s rich cultural history, the artists’ activities and the importance of the diabase quarries for both the town and the region.

In addition to the diabase and many quarries that surround Gylsboda, the village is perhaps best known for the author Harry Martinson living there as a child and depicting his years in this rural part of Sweden in the novel “Flowering Nettle” (for which he received the Nobel Prize).

The new book is also a tribute to the driving individuals that have tirelessly transformed the for decades abandoned Sliperiet into a creative center for arts and crafts with studios, workshops, exhibition space and a café. The book’s texts are in Swedish and English and can be ordered on Sliperiet’s website: www.sliperietgylsboda.se

Sunflowers and Vincent van Gogh

Sunflowers and Vincent van Gogh

Our sunflowers bloomed a couple of weeks later than usual this year, but are no less beautiful for it. On the contrary, 2021’s sunflowers have extra sturdy stems and unusually large flower crowns

Sunflowers are said to lift the soul, symbolize adoration, loyalty and longevity. I have long been enchanted by their colorful look and impressive height. When I lived in the Johanneberg district in Gothenburg, I grew sunflowers every spring on my tiny balcony and they would reach for the sky! But it was probably during my training as a visual artist at Gotland Art School in the early 1990s that my love for “Helianthus” really took off.

Like many of my fellow students, I also adopted the Impressionist Vincent van Gogh as a kind of patron saint for us bourgeoning artists. His sunflowers vibrated with life and reflected a joy that was so difficult for him to capture beyond the canvas. Like many creative people, it was almost only during the process of creation that Vincent experienced weightless happiness. As a “poor” student, it was not difficult to recognize the frustration and anguish that van Gogh fought against. He made the suffering for the sake of art feel noble, somehow. No pain, no gain.

All in all, Vincent is said to have painted a total of 11 paintings with sunflower motifs; four in Paris and seven in Arles. I have on a couple of occasions been to the fields in Provence where it’s believed that he created some of the most beautiful images.

As I stood there looking out over the bright yellow sea of ​​rhythmically swaying sunflowers, I was mesmerized by the view and could appreciate that Vincent van Gogh might have felt euphorically happy as he stood there with his field easel, paints, and canvases, ready with unwieldy gestures and great frenzy to interpret the amazing view in front of him.

I also feel joy in our garden here in Stora Hult today when looking at our gently swaying sunflowers. They stand guard, tightly next to each other in front of the shed’s long side, ready to spread joy as we pass.

mailbox

Mail

I can’t remember when I last received a handwritten letter from a friend or anyone for that matter. On the other hand, I really can’t remember when I wrote one myself. I am dubious about my ability to sit down and write a letter today. Would I use a cursive or a printed style? When did I last hold a pen?

Just remembered that I have a pretty thick binder full of old letters from old friends. One day I’ll get around to re-reading them.

door knocker

Door Knocker

Before video doorbells, before electric doorbells, there were door knockers. Well, there have also been other kind of ways to get the attention of someone behind a door, including manual bells and pushbutton ringers.

But old-school door knockers are arguably still the coolest and best way to announce an arrival. This one is from somewhere in Málaga, Spain.

Resurfaced Wall

Finding Resurfaced Walls

So eventually the images in my resurfaced series will end up in a book. That’s the plan, anyway. I’ve exhibited a few, last year during Malmö’s Gallery Night, but I felt they were way too small to do the project justice.

The piece above is from Poland, from a wall in Krakow’s Old Town, I believe. I can literally spend hours and many km walking around a city to find new walls that entice me. Which is just fine as my expeditions also provide an abundance of exercise. I’ll often walk by a section of a wall or utility box and then stop and take a step or two back to see if there is something worth pulling out my camera for. It’s an artistic, investigative discovery mission, of sorts. People that take note of what I am photographing must think I’m a bit whacko. Which is also fine.

agave plant

Plant Art

It’s a cliché, but nonetheless true: the most spectacularly beautiful art, the most organic, natural creativity is and will always be found in our planet’s biosphere. I grew up surrounded by this kind of agave plant and every time I see one, I feel drawn to it. They make me happy, somehow.

The Rolling Stones

Charlie & The Rolling Stones
I wonder if the artist that painted the above has seen or heard of The Rolling Stones album Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!

Sad to hear that Mick Jagger will never again have reason to say “Charlie’s good tonight, ain’t he?”. But what a run Mr. Watts had during his 80-year life! I’d argue that he was by far the most talented musician in the band – but boring beyond belief to look at. Which I guess was part of his schtick.

I’ve seen the Stones live. It was back in 1982 at Ullevi Stadium in Göteborg during their Tattoo You Tour. The concert I attended was June 19 and even if I never had been much of a fan, I preferred the Beatles’ polished sound, catchier melodies, and sense of humor, I knew that not attending at least one of the two Stones concerts would be a huge cultural mistake that I would probably always regret.

A bunch of us gathered at buddy Lars’s house the night before the show to warm up,  and, well, let’s just say things got a little out of hand with the partying. Let’s also just say that I didn’t fully recuperate until a few minutes before Mick and his bandmates entered the gigantic stage. Let’s say that I have never since filled a glass with dentist high proof alcohol mixed with Fanta. Let’s finally say that I’ve since the occasion never washed my pants in someone’s fish tank.

Anyway, here’s the setlist to The Rolling Stones concert.

IKEA Bag with cobblestone

Serendipity

Serendipity. How I love that word. It’s the opposite of preordained or predestined. I embrace serendipity. That’s how I came across this bag of cobblestones laying on a sidewalk somewhere. It was as if someone had bought the stones at an IKEA warehouse and then tried to carry them home. At some point, the burden must have gotten too heavy. So they gave up, leaving the abandoned stones in the yellow and blue bag, and just walked away only for me to come across it serendipitously. Truth be told, I added the logos after the fact. Couldn’t resist.

Behind the door

Artifactuals

How could I not be compelled to capture this wonderfully bright yellow door framed by a wall of red tiles? Should I instead have forsaken the opportunity because of its obvious allure?

My need to document, eternalize and archive almost any given subject matter is thankfully evolving. I’d argue that the image above is an exception, that I am markedly more focused on exploring and discovering fragments of artifacts of art, hence my Resurfaced series. Still, I continue to be drawn to repetitive patterns, to both complementary and analogous colors and compositions that at least pose a bit of a challenge. I am constantly framing my environment, always on the lookout for balance.

I’m aware of this being autonomous, the result of working as a commercial and editorial photographer for so many years; finding the “right” angle, figuring out how to get the best light, determining focal field and exposure. So, with this in mind, I often have to stop myself from capturing the obvious. The valley of “très très triste” is safe, familiar, and easy. And art should never be too safe, familiar, and easy.

Tokyo

Yearning for Tokyo

I saw this sign somewhere outside of Japan. I find that I periodically feel a curiously strong yearning for Tokyo. Just pronouncing the name out loud gets me a little travel excited. And when I think of some of the places there that I’ve discovered but only scratched the surface of, well, it gets my hopes up that one day I’ll be able to return and experience the intensity, the insane politeness, and endless idiosyncrasies that I think define Tokyo as one of the world’s most alluring metropolises.

Hanging Around

Hanging Around

Two resurfaced pieces combined.

which switch 2021

Which Switch 2021

Life is full of choices. Too many at times. Some estimate that on average, humans make 35,000 decisions per day. Most are made automatically and others are so trivial that we barely notice that we actively make them. But we do. Like choosing which socks to wear, or, what foot to put them on first. As the day progresses, our decisions tend to demand a deeper thought process for us to reach a conclusion that won’t result in a negative result. Like choosing which route to take to work, or, getting sucked into a time-consuming topic on social media because we chose to take a peek there before doing more important stuff.

I find that many of the choices I make are influenced by my emotions – which is perfectly normal as I work as an artist and use my gut feeling, instinct, or, “Emotional Intelligence” to help guide my creative choices. And I am perfectly happy using my emotions to steer my path in a given project.

But I also find that sometimes, emotions are so fleeting, that they are totally unreliable. That in order to suss out whether or not an emotion-driven choice is rational and won’t wreak havoc beyond your ability to foresee the consequences, you need to allocate time to give an important decision serious consideration.

Sweden

Absolut vs Smirnoff

Here’s a new piece for the Resurfaced series. An old friend in L.A. is often wakeful and finds it difficult to fall asleep. The time difference is mostly to my advantage, from a chat perspective, but I worry that the sleep deficit is harmful.

I sleep relatively well nowadays. For several years I’ve used podcasts to help me relax and in due course, fall to sleep. Sometimes, I’ll wake up after a short while, frustrated that the podcast hosts won’t allow me to share my opinion verbally on their show.

One trick that I used to do to fall asleep is map neighborhoods where I’ve lived. The one area I returned to with great frequency was in West Hollywood and the general vicinity where I grew up, hung out, or walked through on my way to or back from somewhere.

I would start along Santa Monica Boulevard going east and then west, visualizing all the buildings, stores, shops, and places I can recall. Then, if that didn’t put me to sleep, I’d map La Cienega Boulevard starting from Sunset and going down what must still be one of L.A.’s steepest hills, then heading south until my personal map starts moving into unfamiliar territory. I haven’t lived in that part of L.A. since 1978, more than forty years ago. So it’s fascinating that I still have such vivid memories of places like The Bowling Alley, John & Pete’s Liquor Store, Alan Hale’s The Lobster Barrel, The Melting Pot, 49 Steps, Rexall’s Drugstore, Norm’s, All America Burger, Pup n’ Tail, Kiddyland, the oil pumps on Beverly, and the row of art galleries and fine dining eateries around Melrose Place.

I remember one time when I was out alone at night (having been locked out of the house by my mother after yet another tumultuous conflict), that I saw what I believed to have been a prostitute on the southwest corner of La Cienega and Santa Monica. She had placed one of her shiny white boots on the edge of the bus stop’s green wooden bench. The woman was extraordinarily tall and wore a wide, black or dark brown hat and a long matching coat that revealed short white hot pants above her legs.

As a prepubescent 12-year old, I was beguiled to say the least. At first, the woman smiled coyly at me, but after realizing I was way too young, her smile shifted quickly to a disappointed, vacant gaze. Maybe she saw in me a version of her younger self and acknowledged that neither of us should be where we were at the time. Certainly not on Santa Monica Boulevard in the middle of the night. I walked home and snuck in through a window along the long side of our house, hoping that by then, my mother had finally fallen asleep. Her sleep was usually induced and fueled by Smirnoff, but I wonder if she had preferred Absolut if it had been available at the time. Probably not.


Sliperiet Gylsboda

While shooting for their book over the summer, I also did some filming, capturing a few unique scenes from the artists’ colony and cultural center Sliperiet Gylsboda. This short film is the result of my experiences.


Timelapse Malmö

Shot this from my room window this afternoon during another short overnight visit to Malmö. I’ve stayed at most of the bigger hotels in this city and last night I knocked the remaining big one off my list: Scandic Triangeln. I would have preferred a room higher up, but my request was denied since I had booked the room through one of Charlotte’s sites and not directly on the hotel’s reservation page. A petty policy, if you ask me.

Sunday Blues

After Party Sunday Sunset

Tired today after last night’s celebration for a friend named Jen that lives southeast of Malmö. We spent a restless night at a hotel, drove back up to Vejbystrand and arrived just in time to enjoy a long coastal walk in beautiful late summer weather. This was our view during Lenanrt’s evening walk.

Kockum Fritid Bengt Nielsen

Farewell Bengt Nielsen

Maybe I should have written this in Swedish. No, I don’t think he would have cared either way.

It was Charlotte that captured this shot of Bengt Nielsen and me during the unveiling of the five collages I was commissioned to create for Kockum Fritid, the sports center he was Managing Director for at the time and had worked at for the majority of his life.

About a week ago I learned from a friend and Bengt successor Magnus Steen that Bengt had succumbed to cancer. I hadn’t seen him since his retirement, but I’d known about the battle for several years. In our very last email exchange, Bengt told me about his poor health and how his cancer had metastasized.

Kockum Fritid has been the Raboff family’s preferred sports center and I’ve also been their supplier of film and photography services for about a decade.

Though my relationship with Bengt was purely professional, whenever we met, whenever I dropped by, he would almost always take time off from whatever he was doing to chat about this and that; from work to wine to family and, towards the end of his tenure, about the battle he was going through and trips he’d hope to be able to make with his wife despite decreasing health.

I’ll always remember Bengt Nielsen as one of the most unpretentious people I’ve ever met. Friendly, kind and generous with inspiring anecdotes from his life. R.I.P.

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Years ago, I frequently took a cab to our favorite airport, Københavns Lufthavn. On several occasions, I had the same driver, a tall, slender man with a neatly kept beard,  a loosely hanging red scarf and a wide, gentle smile. He was a good-looking fellow that if I had to guess, came from somewhere in northern China, or, perhaps Mongolia.

As usual, I bombarded my driver with a spate of questions, the first being where he originally came from. As an immigrant myself, I’ve always felt legitimized to make such inquiries, even on a reasonably personal level, regardless really of wherever in the world I’ve taken a cab.

When my driver replied Afghanistan, I told him how his answer surprised me and that I had guessed somewhere many thousands of miles further northeast. Without taking his eyes off the road, the driver smiled and spent the rest of our time together enlightening me about Afghanistan’s many tribes and ethnicities.

As we neared the airport’s drop-off zone, he told me that my guess wasn’t too far off, that he in fact belonged to the Hazara tribe, which according to legend are descendants of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire.

Mongol soldiers swept through the region of what is today’s Afghanistan sometime during the 13th century. Wary from war, many of Genghis’ soldiers settled down and their Asiatic features and language – a dialect of Persian – set them apart from other tribes, including the predominant Pashtun.

Now that the Taliban have once again overtaken Afghanistan, a country shared by Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Aimaq, Turkmen, Baloch, Pashai, Nuristani, Gujjar, Arab, Brahui, Qizilbash, Pamiri, Kyrgyz, Sadat, and many others, smaller tribes, I wonder if the medal-laden leadership at the Pentagon feel as embarrassingly incompetent as their Russian counterparts did when they abandoned Afghanistan back in February 1989. It boggles the mind how little is learned from history. From epic mistakes. From massive fuckups. How it took 2 trillion taxpayer dollars, twenty years and thousands if not tens of thousands of civillian and military casualites to realize that the endeavor was doomed to fail, that the strategy was flawed to begin with and it was only a matter of time before the zealots would return, is just incredible. So much tragedy. Eisenhower was so right when he warmed against the Military Industrial Complex. For they are the only winners.