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Hi everyone. It is raining outside on this Easter Monday. A soft summer rain, turning the nature very green now.

I was walking to the trainstation on Argentinierstrasse in Vienna, admiring the nature around me, looking at large trees hanging over me when I turned and saw this:

On the other side of the street; these eyes watching. A series of art, one oil painting and two other collages.

I was fascinated by the messages: “Poverty and opulence” and “Self control.” Thoughts to consider on an Easter Monday.

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I found myself at the Landesmuseum in Linz on Tuesday, and since it was the middle of the day, the museum was empty. It was rather surreal to walk around completely alone in the large, open spaces. It was as if the exhibit was created just for me.

Mette Tronvoll, a Norwegian photographer, studied in New York and now lives in Oslo. Her exhibit at the Landesmusem was a treat.

Portraits are the cornerstone of Tronvoll’s artistic practice it seems, portraying friends and acquaintances, or people from different groups or cultures. The portraits are usually produced in a series that reveal tensions between individuals or types, and what I realized was that they speak loudly about similarities and differences.

In the series Couples, Tronvoll portrays friends with their partners. The way the couples position themselves, their individual expressions dominate the mood in each picture. The almost life-size format brought me close to each subject.

Tronvoll has also traveled extensively, and I loved the portraits and people from various rural parts of the world, such as Mongolia. I was particularly fascinated by the portraits of soldiers in the series Rena. The camouflage and the uniforms counteract individual characteristics and the only thing that makes it personal is the subject’s gaze.

I was inspired by the captured moments in the photographs. I hope that each of you are inspired by life’s treasures too.

Yesterday, I spent a great day in the city of Linz. After walking around for most of day in very cold April weather (one of those days), I tagged along with my friend to the OK Kulturhaus in the city center for the opening of the six-day long film festival Crossing Europe.

Press accreditation and information room for guests

Most Austrians are familiar with the annual film festival Viennale. It draws a public from all around the world and goes on for one month. A smaller version of the Viennale, and perhaps a bit less known, is Crossing Europe.

(sponsored by Silhouette)

This year is the festival’s eighth year, but the genre stays the same, devoted to idiosyncratic, contemporary and socio-political auteur cinema from Europe.

Guests of the film industry (nearly 600 accredited festival participants) and the local cinema audience are able to choose from a program with 130 hand-picked films, documentaries and short films.

Linz views

The opening night was filled to the brim with the press, photographers and other guests, being welcomed to the program, the jury and the guest of honor, Austrian film producer gone Hollywood, Eric Pleskow. He is the former president of United Artists and Orion Pictures, and during the hight of his career the film One flew over the Cuckoo’s nest (1976) under the ownership of United Artists, won an Oscar.

Eric Pleskow (sitting) is greeted by a very (and I mean very) excited event organizer

Before the first screening of the festival, the co-organizer OK Kulturhaus invited guests to enjoy the traditional Austrian meal knödel and sauerkraut and a cold beer to splash it down.

The Royal Palace, Slottet, is a magnificent building overlooking the waterfront in Stockholm. Starting in spring, the square comes alive with a major attraction: the changing of the guard. The guard, complete with a military band, goes through its ritual everyday.

For some strange reason, I got in the middle of the new group of soldiers marching to their post.

It turns out, there are many Royal Guards who are women.

I was told that there was a huge party at the Royal Palace for the millennium, and apparently the organizers were concerned that the floor wouldn’t hold out for all of the dancing, so they had all the palace guards come in and jump up and down on the floor to make sure that it would hold. I guess that would be the boring part of the job…

As I continued walking from the palace toward the waterfront, I noticed the good, old Volvo driving off.

I visited Stockholm over the weekend and stayed with an old friend who recently bought a beautiful loft apartment in Gamla Stan, which is the medieval center of Stockholm. It is located on the original small islands of the city’s earliest settlements. Most of the buildings in this area date from the 16th century and are legally protected from renovation.

Although situated on a very northern latitude, Sweden supposedly has a rather moderate climate. Growing up in Sweden, I am not so sure about that, and coming from the warmth of spring in Vienna, I was shivering cold at times. But it is April after all, and some were sure to enjoy the customary fika, or coffee break, by the water.

In the narrow alleys and small squares of Gamla Stan you can find old and cozy cafés, restaurants and shops. During earlier days the inns around the old marketplace, Stortorget (below), were places where people came together and drank beer like we drink water today. I hear, in one of these inns the Swedish troubadour Carl Mikael Bellman entertained the drunken regulars. Today you enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch here.

At Stortorget the Stockholms Blodbad took place in 1520 when many noblemen were decapitated by the Danish king.

I was told by the owner of a small grocery store named Gamla Stan Livs, that one problem with keeping Gamla Stan intact is the constantly sinking ground level, a surprising couple of centimeters each year. The instability of the ground makes the houses and streets sink and it is noticed in the store,which has been there for many years.

As I was making my way towards the Royal Castle, Slottet, I dove into small stores and second-hand shops with stairs leading down into cellars and cave like spaces.