This blue marble

– and yet it spins


Leave a comment

One night with the circus

cirque-2Finally, at the top floor or Royal Albert Hall. Impressed at the sight below me, I took some photos. “Do you know where you should be?” asked a friendly seating assistant. I pointed at a seat just below the ceiling – I had been late with booking my ticket. “Would you like a seat down there by the stage?” Goodness me, yes. I did. Fifth row from the stage. What an experience.cirque-3 And the best thing is, like those freak shows of old, Cirque du Soleil is always on the lookout for people with unusual skills. Talented skater, athlete, rope skipper, martial artist? Maybe you know of an ancient performing art only a few people remember? Perhaps you should join the circus.
cirque-1(Royal Albert Hall, London, United Kingdom; January 2017)


Leave a comment

Interlude: true colors

Processed with Snapseed.Coloring is good for a jet-lagged brain. Especially with my favorite souvenir from last summer: a box of Faber-Castell Polychromos, purchased from a lovely lady in a huge mall in Kuala Lumpur.

They say coloring brings the brain into the same state as meditation. In addition, one creates something beautiful and tangible. No better excuse to invest in new pencils.Processed with Snapseed.(Helsinki, Finland; September 2016)


Leave a comment

Ubud street art

streetartWhat a marvelous sense for beauty the Balinese have. Everything on Bali is beautiful, right down to the pavements. Why would anybody settle for boring asphalt or concrete, when one can scatter little flowers of beach pebbles here and there, or decorate one’s runway with an intricate flower mosaic pattern? Scandinavian simplicity my a**. I prefer flowers.

(Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; August 2016)


Leave a comment

Random ramblings from Paris

Paris-6When I said I was going to Paris, my friend stated that we were probably the one ones going to France without going to see the soccer Euro Cup. We don’t follow soccer, so how could we have known about it? Perhaps we live in another culture bubble, one that does not engage with soccer? Blissfully ignorant, we booked our tickets in March, for 10 days in France. I was certain that we would end up in the middle of at least an attempt of terrorism. But we did not. We left 2 days before a crazy person drove a rented truck through a crowd in Nice. Yet another relatively tight call. One of many for me.

But Paris is always Paris. And this time with some American flair at the Centre Pompidou. Wandering among so many private photos and film clips of the famous Beat bunch, I could not help but wonder how Kerouac, Ginsberg, Burroughs, et al. were both so lost and so focused at the same time. “On the road” is a book about being aimless and lost, but yet Kerouac sat down, started typing on a paper scroll, and kept typing on the same scroll until his story was finished. “On the road” is 37 meters long.
Paris-7Oh, how very serious the Beat people must have been. Just aimlessness, lostness, unemployment, boheme poverty, and so much angst. Except for Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who decided to open a bookstore in San Francisco and call it City Lights Books. No, Ferlinghetti was less lost, and he laughed at life. He also laughed at the painter Marc Chagall, who for some reason always painted violins. So he wrote a poem about it. Something definitely not Beat or Lost. I read it at the Pompidou and laughed, too. And I wondered why Ferlinghetti decided to write about the horse eating the violin instead of the lady on the horse with her beau, wearing an evening dress that ended right underneath her naked breasts.

Don’t let that horse
                              eat that violin
    cried Chagall’s mother
                                     But he   
                      kept right on
                                     painting
And became famous
And kept on painting
                              The Horse With Violin In Mouth
And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
                                        and rode away   
          waving the violin
And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across
And there were no strings   
                                     attached

Paris-8(Paris, France; July 2016)


Leave a comment

Houses like wedding cakes

riga-8Who knew that Latvia had the most Art Nouveau buildings in all of Europe? I surely didn’t. How lovely would it be to live in a wedding-cake house: pastel-colored building decorated with soft shapes, vine leaves, theatrical masks, or lions and angels? Until one steps inside to discover that while the narrow, tall windows are beautiful, they do not let in much light at all. The outside matters more than the inside. And while the inside may be dark, it is certainly decorated.riga-6I wonder who lived in all of these houses? Were there enough wealthy Latvians in Riga in the turn of the century, or were most inhabitants of foreign ethnic origin? And what does it feel like to live in a blue-white building watched over by two huge bored long faces? Who ever saw them during a post-opium-laced-tea dream and decided, “I know, I will put them on the roof of my next house – what a grand idea!”?riga-4To the contemporary mind, Art Nouveau seems less like new art and more like old art. Perhaps the shapes and the wholeness of the style, from architecture to art, was fresh. But covering a house in white cream the shape of seashells, lions, statues, and vine leaves sounds more rococo than new. Perhaps it was art nouveau that Ayn Rand’s hero architect could not stand in the Fountainhead? I cannot blame him – but I can state that today’s buildings are a bore compared to the whimsy of art nouveau, new art a century old.rigaartnouveau(Riga, Latvia; February 2016)


Leave a comment

Rubens’ angels and Antwerp’s angles

antwerp-3It always rained in Antwerp. The cold was the kind of wet central European cold that penetrates any warm clothing and settles in the bones. The cobblestones were uneven to walk at and I felt sorry for generations of horses that had to negotiate them day after day until the day they died.

The old town was quiet. Most bars and restaurants were closed. I wondered where they got their business from, and when. Antwerp used to be a bustling diamond merchant city (and it still is to a sense). But nothing can be seen on the streets. The diamonds have always been hidden.

antwerp-1Hobbling on the damned cobblestone streets in my heels I thought of the kilometers of water running in channels underneath the city. Antwerp used to be like Amsterdam. Someone thought more cobblestones were a more practical solution than smooth waterways.

I passed the cathedral and thought of Rubens’ fleshy naked angels inside. In the dark and rain it seemed that Antwerp would benefit from pink fat little angels outside the cathedral as well, scattered in the city.

When I finally slipped through the doors of the hotel I thought how lovely it was that one man who lived 400 years ago is remembered by the world for his pink fat little angels. There is much love for life in the work of Rubens, something this cold, edgy world never seems to have enough of. Perhaps some angels and bare warm skin would be an effective remedy against its cold and troubles?antwerp-2(Antwerp, Belgium; January 2016)


Leave a comment

An ancient animal parade

lascaux-2The light flickers on. A golden glow washes the white walls, and I am standing in the middle of Noah’s Ark running by. Deer, bison, dozens of horses great and small, ibexes, and felines rush by and I am standing in the middle of this migration. The light flickers again and turns off. An eerie black light glow lights up a completely different set of animals, carved underneath the painted ones. Hordes of running horses swish past.lascaux-3But why did our early ancestors paint animals that were not hunted every day for survival? Why did they choose to focus on these magnificent creatures that they perhaps knew less well, and from a distance? What do the geometric signs painted on and around the animals mean? The stripes on the horses, the square pattern underneath the cow?

And what was the purpose of the art? Was there any purpose, or was it for everybody’s education and joy just like an art exhibition and a museum are today? Or was this place sacred? Were people singing when painting? Is it possible to recover the ancient words and tunes from the sound vibrations transmitted from the throat to the hand holding the brush and to the painting, just like a gramophone needle reads grooves in the clay disc?

The answer is probably locked away forever. And so are the Lascaux caves, too, in a time capsule intended to preserve the art from mold and moisture. Fortunately lovely paleo-lovers have created both a real-life replica of the Lascaux right next door, as well as the marvelous exhibition showcasing the work as if on a real cave wall. It has just left Geneva but do catch it if you can, where ever it goes next. Spending a moment in the world of our ancestors 20,000 years ago is an interesting experience. lascaux-1(Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland; January 2016)