What is a life without committment? If not very, very booring…

Today I had lunch with and interviewed my friend Nena, who was my Uruguayan “mentor” in Stockholm when I started scratching on the surface of what later became the reportage “Hijos de la dictadura” (Children of the dictatorship). I asked her a lot about Tupamaros, the Uruguayan guerilla that emerged in the 60’s, and her escape to Sweden but what was the most interesting of our conversation was what she started talking about and also what the history ended in – what’s happening in Sweden today. And not just in Sweden, the whole world – Internet has become our most important tool to communicate and to raise our voices, a tool that has made it possible for us to join causes all around the globe.

But then, what’s happening in our own environment while we’re busy, connected to the computer, reading about what’s happening in Somalia and thinking you’re happy YOU don’t live there. Yes, if you’re gonna compare, Sweden is probably one of the “best”, safest countries to live in, but what happens to the society when we block out each other and don’t care about our neighbor. It’s an “every man for them selves”-society. We develop in technology but what about developing in humanity and remembering what we are living for?

I talked about this also yesterday with a guy from Brazil (who I met while working at the coffeeshop the other day). While walking around the lake of Stockholm my mouth went “bla balbbablöa”, he’s studying environmental engineering and I admire people who actually are good at becoming something that the society really needs to survive (instead of me, imagining that my pictures are important to make people think…?). I mentioned I always had thought I would work for the UN or at some smaller aid organisation, to make a difference and do something meaningful – while growing older I realized how corrupt even those organizations are and I started detest giving away money to charity, like paying the catholic church for cleaning you of your sins… it’s an easy fix to keep on living an “expendable” lifestyle, over consuming and clean your conscience when what we really need to do is to take a look in our closest environment, have time to stop and buy a sandwich or a blanket to that poor man sitting outside in -13 degrees – instead we rush by and think to ourselves “he probably has himself to blame”.

Why is it easier to care about starving kids in Africa while we’re ignoring the homeless in our own streets?

What happened to caring? Many times I catch myself being dragged in to the attitude that almost is the hallmark for our generation – don’t care too much about anything, just care enough to be political correct. Multitasking in commitment. The word solidarity has almost lost it’s meaning – it’s been associated with hippies and “unrealistic” ideas, like communism, the same way that feminism has become a word some women don’t even dare to take in their mouths because it would mean that you’re a butch and hate men? (How can you wanna be a free woman and not being a feminist please tell me)

Our generation has stopped caring, we think everyone else, the government, will deal with the important stuff so that we can just enjoy life – but then, isn’t commitment the most important thing in life? Passion? Interest? What will your life become if you don’t care about anything? and what society will we have to enjoy in if there’s nobody committing them selves to making it better…? It’s so easy for us today to live without participating in society – finally you’ve stopped caring so little, or forgot about how to make a change that you’ll let the wrong people rule and you’ll make it easy for evil men to cease power.

Then one day you’re watching SD, the Swedish Democrats, collecting all people in Sweden with “non-swedish” surnames being thrown out of the country and you’ll fear to raise your voice in protest.

We always believe we’re better than before, let’s not forget about the history, talk to more old people.

rehenes

Picture from Museo de la Memoria, Montevideo, of when they freed the female “rehenes” from the military at the end of the Uruguayan dictatorship, after 13 years of being held hostages and tortured to keep their families and fellows from raising their voices.

För blogg om reportaget på svenska, y a veces en español – http://www.diktaturensbarn.blogspot.se/

 

Oh Lady Moe

I just got off the bus, quite tired after nonstop work the last month. Walking the few blocks to the apartment I’m renting from a friend, thinking that it must be this neighbourhood that have got me feel so lonely this autumn. I’m a person that is extremely sensitive to my environment, I can be happy, walk into a room with sulky walls ans suddenly turn gloomy. This neighborhood is inhabited by old ladies with expensive furs and small dogs, lonely old ladies and families with parents working for corporate businesses – I know it is to generalize, I live here too right, but these are at least the only people I see. That’s why I was extra super-happy to bump into Moa this night, walking here, feeling this isn’t my place and for the first time feeling I met a friend in the street! Although we don’t even know each other.

It was last Friday we met. i had been running around across town from one photo-job to the other, spending 5-15min at each place to try to get a good picture for the weekends paper. I hadn’t had time to talk much to the reporter about the job and was expecting an older, eccentric woman, writing children’s books. Instead I walked into a person full of colors, in an apartment full of colors and a woman, who looked like a young girl but with the calm of an old woman.

Finally! I felt I had inspiration again. So many jobs these weeks that I’ve completed without feeling satisfaction and without finding any good angles, the times I’ve even have had time to put some heart intoe it I’ve just felt I’ve wanted to run away from there as fast as I’ve got a picture that “work” coz I haven’t had any ideas or visions of how to make it better.

Lady Moe, as she calls her self, artist, writer and illustrator let me into her bubble of creativity and I felt like I wanted to stay there forever. It was like being let into a fairytale of Astrid Lindgren and suddenly the autumn didn’t feel that bad. I shot pictures of her while the reporter was interviewing, some times interrupting and catching the last rays of light before the sun would go down outside the window. When we were done, we hugged like friends and I think both the reporter and I felt like we wanted to linger in the hallway, staying just a few more minutes in that warmth.

Walking home I felt enlightened and strengthened – these people actually exist, Moa’s lifestyle and her apartment was so different to everything else I’ve seen here at Östermalm. She had kids to support but didn’t seem to care about making a lot of money, and at the same time not having money trouble – her paintings she would sell for almost what her canvases cost her since she wanted them to make people happy, that was their purpose. I can’t see any better environment for a kid to grow up in.

I’ve been thinking of Moa the last week and thinking “oh, how I would like to be friends with her”. And so, as an ending to a tired weekend, she appears in the street, just outside the bakery that always radiates with all kinds of irresistible smells. She was smiling from 4 m away but I didn’t recognize her until up close, since she wore a hat and a dark coat. “Heey” she greated me like any friend (almost made me forget where I knew her from, or rather didn’t knew her)  and gave me a big hug, she thanked me for the pictures and I talked a bit about my work, just before going separate ways I felt like that moment when you wish to ask someone out but you don’t know if that person is single and maybe is just being nice to be nice – but since I had her card and she wanted to see my portfolio I told her I would email her. And I will. Right now! (after posting these pictures)

To let Lady Moe inspire you too, look here: http://ladymoe.se/

Thank you for giving my creativity back ;)

Street Art one step closer to Stockholm

Stockholm municipally runs a non-tolerance politic against graffiti and street art.

I started my fascination with photographing street art when I first visited Berlin in the spring of 2010 – and I then returned to the city 3 times the same year. Even during the bad-ass winter with -20 I walked around in east Berlin gawking at the wonderful paintings surprising me at every corner – how did they do this 30m painting if it’s not legal? or was it that just nobody cared for these buildings and then was happy to leave it be?
When I heard that a group of graffiti-lobbyists and a cultural center just outside of Stockholm had built a legal wall for anyone to paint on I was thrilled – I’m still hoping to see something like this in Stockholm one day…

Of course, as you can see, this is just a poorly montage, but someday….

Today, in Alby, Botkyrka, I saw graffiti artists live for the first time – there was a great vibe, another depth to the graffiti art although it left out a bit of the mystery it still got me thinking “why are they painting exactly this?”- it’s strange to see the hand behind the paintings, since it’s normally  the first thing I try to figure out  when I see a painting. Though I asked many questions I left that one out, most of the time art is at its best when you make you’re own interpretation of it.

So without further explanation, here’s some of todays pics:

I’ve always loved street art coz it’s like the purest form of love from an artist; one that gives of her/his talent to inspire others and to put a bit of color to the gray city life without expecting anything back (!). There can be acknowledgment among graffiti-artist but the street art is the most unselfish form of art where there’s no point of organizing a grand opening to boost with your creations – unless you’d like to invite the cops for sharing your cheap cider in champagne glasses. The street artist gives back to the people what’s rightfully theirs – the right to art. It’s left to anyone with the right timing to see it and appreciate it or hate it (and not having to be polite to offer any false compliments to the creator) .

I wonder – would graffiti be the same if it was legal? Or would the graffers start setting up tables in front of their freshly painted wall and bribe you with some grapes and crackers while you’d be offered a price to buy the wall to show appreciation for the artists work…?

Killerball live at Götgatan

Yesterday I had been megalaxing in Järna outside of Stockholm, one of my childhood friends lives there and is now pregnant so I found the time to visit her and catch up and photograph her huge bellyyyy… In the evening I returned to the city – picked up sushi at Södermalm’s most popular whole in the wall “Akkis”. Found my way to a friend’s place close by and sat at her balcony eating my late dinner while she was packing for the reggae-festival Öland Roots. I finished my dinner and decided to walk a few blocks before taking the metro home. Coming in to Götgatan I started hearing music and then I saw a big crowd around these guys….

They call themselves “Killerball” – Mördardboll på svenska. They were playing covers and some of their own songs and completely rocking the crowd that sat down around them. This is a phenomena that only can happen in summertime, vacationtime and I was happy to be part of it – people enjoying the life of the streets. It was 10 pm and the sun was going down, I stayed and listened to them for half an hour, went to the ATM for cash and bought their CD for 50sek, good money for a great live concert – although it was totally different to listen to their CD at home than seeing them live, of course! I was sad to have my dear PowerShot s95 at the clinic for damaged lenses and couldn’t film their performance…

Support these brilliant guys by going in to facebook and give them those damn 5,000 likes they need to get signed by the record company!!

Precious London

I would almost not need to write anything to this picture – those that have read or heard the stories I’ve shared the last weeks can understand why this picture was so right right  now ;)

But at least I can sum up what happened before and after this pic:

After a few hectic work days, not eating or sleeping properly – too exited by the long summer days of Stockholm (1 or 2 hours of full darkness each night) I’m off on an airplane again, this time to London – a trip I hade booked while in Canada, thinking I would have plenty of time back in Sthlm etc etc, not important, anyways I’m actually here for a Capoeira workshop this weekend but I planned some extra days here to visit my friend Rachael at the same time.

Before this picture: landing on Gatewick, feeling in control and starting to get too used to Airports to ever feel worried. I come to the passport control and can’t find my passport.

I put a whole operation in motion to try to contact the aircraft, coz I’m sure I had it in my lap and lost it at the plane, and trying to prove my identity but am too confused that I also can’t  rabble my birth date when the man asks me and so on and so on – eventually when I sit down to wait for them to handle my matter, I find my passport, neatly folded with my boarding pass in my bag, where I first looked…

After this picture I jump on the wrong bus, when Rachael thinks I’m at another place than I’m actually at, so I end up going sightseeing on the dubbeldecker, which I didn’t mind though – as the picture says: life is either an adventure or nothing…

One day in London and I already have a lot of stories – it’s like NYC all over again, but I realise it doesn’t matter in which city or what country you’re in, when you get into the middle of a big mix of people and just keep your mind open, strange things starts to happen…

The little NYC in Stockholm – Jam session at Vlångg/Tyska Brinken

This last week crazy things have happened, both good and bad ones – my work at the coffeeshop in old town, Stockholm, really teach me a lot about people, human behavior and all kind of crazy manners. Just before leaving the shop on sunday, when I wasn’t suppose to work but just to come by and help my college to buy some extra milk – and ended up shotting espresso to confused turists, there was a atmosphere of confusion that started with my college telling me that she had just been robbed, or something (a guy had tried to pay with a false 1000kr-bill and wanted to negotiate on the sandwiches for 10kr each) and when he left 500sek was missing – I didnt’t have time to let her explain me the whole story and she was also too confused to tell it correctly, so I told her to sit down in the storage and write it down while I was taking care of the shop – so that feeling transmitted to everyone around me, or people where just crazy from the first real sumemrdays because nobody was able to make a simple order and I don’t think it helped that they heard me, one moment speaking in english, the other in swedish and the third addressing someone in spanish! “Dónde está mi cortado?” Ya viene, señor! I minute later: Un cortado! …. “Señor! Su cortado viene aquí!” “Seeeeeñoor…! Nadie quiere un cortado??!” Another man, from another company, aslo speaks spanish and helps me to call on the attention of the confused Spaniard. When this helpful man comes to the cashier I hear his accent and I ask “Son de Argentina?” “Síi, sí, somos! De donde sos?” “No, soy de aquí pero he vivido en Uruguay” – “Ah, Uruguaya” says his wife “te escuché hablar y pensaba que esa chica tiene pinta de Uruguaya!” and it wnet on something like that – the confused Spaniard later standing in line for the toilet and asked me if I spoke a bit spanish – when I told him that I speak A LOT spanish he wanted to know if I had been to spain, and yes I said, but I learned spanish in Uruguay – he barely knew where is was and then after a while “aaah, right, yes they speak spanish there also – but NOT castellano!” and I had to interrupt him since I had a chaos behind the counter and I was not at all interested to speak to someone that ignorant ;) but he was a sweet old, proud man…

ANYHOW – when I finally could tear myself away from the shop I just took one step out of the door – and then went back in to buy to ice-lattes for these too talented guys:

Jam session at Vlångg/Tyska Brinken, Stockholm from Kiki Beije on Vimeo.

These guys always came into our shop last summer ’11 and saved us with their coins while they also bought a coffee – we always turned off the music in the shop when we heard them on the corner of Västerlånggatan and Tyska Brinken – so when I saw that they where back this summer I was so happy!

In the video, at 2.41, you’ll also see my local, friend and college Siri just turning into the street – for you that don’t know swedish this is how the conversation goes:

“Hi Siri!”

“Heeey!!”

“Look, it’s the street musicians, remember them  from last summer?!”

“Ah, yeah, it seems like they’re always here….. there are so many men that play in the street… I would like to see more women playing”

“Start playing yourself then!”

“Yeah, I’ve actually thought about it, together with my boyfriend..”

“Just do it! If you wanna see a change you have to be the change!”

“If one would have a day off work, ahha! Well, see ya!”

“yeah, have a good one!”

So, to see Karl Bernhard Josephson and Manne Norrhäll play just stroll down Västerlånggatan, or preferebly Tyska Brinken  (less tourists) and stop by this corner, if you have the right timing they’re there jamming for the people – and if you’ll have even better timing you might at the same time step by the coffeeshop and find me there ;)

Before heading home I told my college that I had just realised that Old town is so crazy in the summers since there are so many different and strange people in a tiny place, and then they come rumbling into our even tinier shop! (just like NYC – not tiny though, but with a big mix of people)