This blue marble

– and yet it spins


Leave a comment

Gilded ceilings and electric lights

hallwyl-2Imagine the splendor and style of Versailles – with original electric light fittings. The bustle of a country castle downstairs kitchen – with modern, white tiles stretching over the walls and the ceiling. And an electric kitchen elevator, and three water faucets: one for hot, one for cold, and one for rain water.hallwyl-1This was all highly unusual in any wealthy, traditional-style house in Stockholm at the turn of the 20th century. But the Hallwyl couple seem to have been unusual, too: they built a palace with all the modern, sometimes experimental, luxuries of the turn of the century. They then proceeded to decorate it in the style of what can only be described as flitting from good taste to extravagant kitsch. During that time, who really chose their salon decor to mimic French gilded rococo?

The lady of the house sure did not hesitate when she bought 15th century tapestries before she even had a house, and designed the living room to fit the tapestries. She also did not hesitate in general, as she collected almost anything and everything she considered art: from china to paintings and to swords and pistols. She then proceeded to convert her newly built house to a museum for future generations, and produced a set of 78 printed books cataloguing all her possessions.

One cannot help but wonder whether this was truly the passion of a lady interested in beauty and the world, or a well-planned project to gain power through magnanimity? And how did she fit into society? Her house surely must have been the cause of many curious rumors and stories. Perhaps this was just as she liked it?hallwyl-4(Hallwyl House, Stockholm; April 2017)


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)