Eight miles high

My father and I used to argue about graffiti. Although I think he secretly might have liked some of it, he perhaps liked being contrary a little bit more. He passed away nine years ago, shortly after my 27th birthday. I sometimes wonder how his opinions might have changed over the years.

Long before recent trends of street art, I remember my father being fascinated by a sculpture of a face, seemingly impossibly cemented high upon a support beam of the elevated concrete highways that comprise the Turcot Interchange in Montréal. I sometimes wonder if it’s still there.


I seem to have lost my voice after giving a 45-minute talk to help kick off the Samfunnsvitenskapelige fakultet (Faculty of Social Science) administration’s summer party. I made some new maps for the occasion: Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger. This brings my total to approximately 175 km of walking in Norway (and Sweden).

Oslo (150 km)

Bergen (10 km)

Stavanger (15km)

Thanks so much to the organising committee for the very kind invitation and for the interesting questions and comments. Have a great sommerfest! Here’s Janis Joplin singing ‘Summertime’ live in 1969:

Om kanelbulle gör dig glad, ät kanelbulle

While in Göteborg last week, I stumbled upon the Swedish sticker artist Bubblarna. Most of the following were photographed in the vicinity of the only legal graffiti wall in Göteborg: Röda Sten. Röda Sten is a very interesting place and I hope to share a bit more of what I learned about it and Göteborg’s unofficially official policy of zero tolerance against graffiti. Soon, hopefully! Until then …

‘Han har snott min stil’ / ‘He stole my style’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Va fan!?’ / ‘What the hell?!’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Va fan hånde hår?’ / ‘What the hell happened here?’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Jeg tånker på dig.’ / ‘I’m thinking of you.’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Soool’ / ‘Suuun’, Göteborg (2015)
‘High five’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Ananas …’ / ‘Pineapple’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Om kanelbulle gör dig glad, ät kanelbulle’ / ‘If cinnamon buns make you happy, eat cinnamon buns’, Göteborg (2015)
‘Hej’ / ‘Hi’, Göteborg (2015)

Distance as immanence

I have been thinking about an idea since being in Stockholm in March: the idea that moments of previous times and places live simultaneously in our research, through the past theories and practices of ourselves and diverse others. So that, I might be standing on the corner of a street in Oslo taking a photograph of a piece of graffiti but, in standing there and in doing what I do, I am referencing many other times and places. I am invoking the time and space of this moment and this locale, while simultaneously evoking Paris of the 1950s, New York of the 1980s, Stockholm of the 1990s, Montréal of my childhood. All while I stand in this one place, at the convergence of these singular degrees of latitude and longitude, in some random neighbourhood of Oslo. Perhaps this is an inevitable hetereotopia that emerges in the experience of urban space; brought forth by the surrounding architecture, the passing people, the meeting of cultures, and the conjuring of our own memories.

In one moment, I am confronted with my own memories and travels and experiences — my literal and figurative positionality — all which no doubt influence my reading of the landscape. I am standing on a street corner in Oslo and simultaneously, I am standing in all the cities I have ever lived and visited and read about. Imagine my pleasure at coming across this passage today in Geoff Dyer’s book Yoga for People who Can’t be Bothered to Do It. Geoff Dyer, incidentally, has been a great discovery for me this year and has provided me with so much unexpected geographic inspiration:

“If successive phases of history can be imagined as sharing a common space, then perhaps, by analogy, chronologically distinct experiences of certain places — Rome, Detroit, Leptis Magna, Amsterdam, New Orleans — also occur in some ways simultaneously. If the successive can be experienced simultaneously, then perhaps distance can be experienced as immanence. They might be tied to specific locations but, in the ‘sphere of the mind’, some experiences — separated, originally, by years as well as miles — end up sharing a single location and a single instant. Everything happens in the same time and in the same place — or certain things, certain experiences do at any rate.” (Dyer 2003, 231)

Now I have another quote, from Nick Cave, that also touches upon these ideas. But I think I might save that for another day.

Standing in a blurry reflective/reflection moment in the Göteborgs Konstmuseum, or yet: in many moments and in many museums. (Göteborg, 2015)

Rainy day women

I have been staring far too long at half-naked images of women. And while that might sound enticing and titillating, it’s depressing and disconcerting. It is part of a paper I am working on about the gendering and sexualising of space through advertising and links to women’s right to the city. The images I am looking at are in outdoor advertising throughout Oslo. These images have taken a considerable toll on my morale, particularly when such images are given priviliged space in the city at the expense of creative and political expression. I came across the following image walking in rainy, central Oslo this Saturday.
Ok then, how about some Dylan instead? Different type of rainy day women …

Reflections on art and climate change

Just because you understand the atom, doesn’t mean you understand the world. Or so I write in my latest piece for Samfunnsgeografen, the human geography student journal at UiO. In this special issue on climate, I write about listening to glaciers and trees that draw and share some other thoughts on art and climate change. The backdrop for the image below? A rescued rug that I recently painted and upcycled.

The ongoing moment

April 2015

I am so pleased to have just received a copy of Geoff Dyer’s book ‘The Ongoing Moment’. Trying to work out how to be a critical urban theorist through photographs.