This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Interlude: moomins in hiding

moomin-2One bleak Saturday we stopped by at the Helsinki Art Museum’s permanent exhibition of Tove Jansson’s works. You know, the author and artist behind all things Moomin. There were two large frescoes, one showcasing a party on the countryside and another a party in the city. All very 1940s post-war joy. And then I saw a little moomin, hiding away behind flowers and a glass of champagne. Right there, in a quite seriously adult piece of art.

Turning to the mural Rest after Work, I discovered a little Sniff hiding behind some other flowers. There he was, probably resting after a day’s efforts of not having to work at all.

I am now convinced that Tove Jansson never knew how to be 100% serious about her work. Good on her. Delivering results does not mean kill your sense of humor. moomin-1(HAM, Helsinki, Finland; March 2018)


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Wilde & Vilde

tartudec-12Being contemporaries, focused as much on style as on wit and critique of society, Oscar Wilde and Eduard Vilde could have met. But they never did. And so they were depicted having  a chat on a bench outside of a pub in Tartu. Oddly, I learned that the exact same piece stands (or sits) in Galway, Ireland.

What an unsettling thought: after you are dead and gone, somebody depicts you next to a person you never met nor knew, assuming there is a connection – and the rest of the world agrees.

(Tartu, Estonia; December 2017)


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Ancient African art

twyfelfonteinThe Cro-Magnon people of Europe drew mammoths, deer, and moose. The San people of Africa made giraffes, oryxes, and wildebeest. Both depict hunts, hunted animals, and the styles are quite similar. If you look closely you can even see an animal with double sets of legs, like the one at Lascaux which is suspected to be like an animation of a walking animal when properly flashed with light. The Cro-Magnon people drew shamanic apparitions, as did the San people: if you look closely at the Twyfelfontein rock painting site you can find a lion with a deer-like animal in its jaws. The lion has a long, angled tail, with a pawprint at the end. As if from a trance dream.

The rock drawings of Twyfelfontein are similar to the ones in Lascaux. We people share a universal, collective mind, regardless of where in the world we live. Which drawings are older? The San people who drew the Twyfelfontein paintings are said to be the oldest original people of Africa, but these drawings are only about 2,000-6,000 years old; while the paintings in the Lascaux caves have survived 17,000 years. The oldest known rock art, in Indonesia, is dated 40,000 years back in time. On the one hand, the Twyfelfontein art is much younger. On the other hand, the Cro-Magnon people seem to have stopped making rock paintings some 10,000 years ago, while the San people did it until they were banished to the nearly rock-less Kalahari desert when farming became popular after Namibian independence.

Living prehistoric culture is unfortunately very easy to kill.

(Twyfelfontein, Namibia; July 2017)


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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)


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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)


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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)