things to not do in stockholm

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miss your flight.

 because i had a ridiculously early flight back from skavsta airport which is about 80kms from stockholm, i stayed at the airport hotel. i had no mobile and no laptop and no alarm clock with me (for various reasons), so i asked to be woken up in the morning (4:30 for breakfast, thanks). i woke at the sound of my neighbour’s door opening, raced to the foyer with the big clock on the wall and saw that it was 6:30. gate closed, flight departing. next one not ’til the next day.

it was like something out of trains, plains and automobiles – although i surprised myself by not swearing so much. l made it back home, 14 hours and €150 later, having learned some vital lessons. phew.

get blown up.

this super-sad story about a car bomb in stockholm was a bit shocking. not least because of the fact that peeps were killed, that the apparent reasons for it seemed a bit stretched (sweden’s involvement in afghanistan is 500 troops. whilst still ‘involved’, that’s hardly a major player from what little i know of military deployment), and the fact that me and my friend phiroze were there just a week earlier!

but on a lighter note, we had a fab time. see these pics.

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STK_Phiroze overlooking STK_web

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UPDATE:  my laptop has overdosed and is now in intensive care in a berlin service centre. who knows when i’ll be able to get back to regular drivel. merry christmas to all y’all!

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a list of things to do in stockholm

Gamla Stan - The Old Town of Stockholm


hi. yes, i’m sorry darling for being away for a long time. and i’ve rarely been in contact. i went to london and got caught up in life. but it doesn’t mean that i don’t love you, i promise. but i’ll change all that. really, i will.


after i get back from stockholm.






eep! i’m super-excited. i know that it’s already pretty damned icy here. snow in london, snow in berlin, snow in stockholm. but i’m looking forward to checking out a city i’ve not been to before.


i’m going with my friend phiroze, who has an amazing job and who has put me in charge of ‘entertainment’. that could go anywhere, but in the interest of being a proper tourist for a few days, here’s a list i’ve done so far…


moderna museet 


Kungsträdgården ice skating


drop coffee (i’m very proud of myself – it’s only at #3 on the list!)


arkitekturmuseet


nordic museum


the office #15


boat tours of the royal canal


dark tours/rooftop tours


the globe


any other suggestions?


image credit: gorgios karamanis from flickr

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this is not art*

*not a post about the upcoming brilliant festival in newcastle, australia.

mauthausen walk

last week i had a free day in linz, after i’d seen enough of ars electronica, and was considering some good old-fashion sight-seeing. there’s a beautiful church on the hill i was going to see.

then i met my friend thomas‘ friend, josef. he is a guide for the mauthausen concentration camp and of course after that, i decided that i needed to go there. he was kind enough to give me a lift there (and back!) and, as well as the official audio guide, i got my own personal guide – extra info and sites that i wouldn’t have heard/seen otherwise. especially not in english.

mauthausen yard

i didn’t take many photos – i just really didn’t feel like it, but the place was amazing.

i tried to not imbue it with my own interpretation/nostalgia/meaning/drama but it was still a really loaded place. i almost didn’t go into the gaz kammer (gas chamber) because, well, i don’t even know why – i just didn’t want to trample all over that sacred space. something from learning about aboriginal history must be sinking in.

but i did go in. not to ogle, but to pay respects and to learn from the horror. if i make myself a witness, i can sign up to making sure that kind of stuff doesn’t happen anymore. the more i face it, the more i can be part of the solution, hopefully.

i cried at the women’s camp, when i heard about the hundreds of female prisoners who were shipped from other camps and forced into prostitution for the male prisoners and guards. when they returned to their original camps, they were ostracised and most didn’t make it alive. any that did were denied rights of a pension for those years in prison, because they were prostitutes – technically there were criminals.

mauthausen prison2

i marvelled at the intuitive monument that has developed in the ‘bunker’, the prison. the walls are scrawled with graffiti from younger visitors all over the world and, as yet, hasn’t been removed. it reminded me of the kiss marks at oscar wilde’s grave in paris.

at the moment, it’s the young people’s heartfelt monument, compared to the official plaques from the organisations run by adults. i think i liked this idea, although i can’t see it sticking.

after the regular tour, we drove down to the bottom of the quarry, which is now a beautiful little waterhole – a natural denkmal (monument), but it was the site of the terrible hard labour and suicide jumps.

mauthausen window2

and then we took a side tour to the gusen monument and the weirdness that is gusen village – a working burg on the sites of the massive camp: people live in the guards houses, on the site of the brothel, where the prison accommodation used to be. i think i know how indigenous australians feel a little.

i’m really glad i took the time to visit and to have a better picture of recent european history.

i kept thinking about other recent genocides, including the rwandan and sudanese genocides, wondering why the holocaust shocks us more. are we really that racist? or is it the fact that this killing was so calculated and injected into the very fabric of a very sophisticated state and public – its documents, its politics, its legal system and its media.

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ICELAND [UP]

ok, so this is a slightly leftfield post about how ace iceland is.

and this has been prompted by a couple of things:

firstly, my ace friend, sarah mosca (who took that pic up there) and her partner tim bruniges are over there working their arses off and having an ace time. by all accounts from the mosca project blog, the place is ace. if you’re in iceland, reading this, and you have the chance to work with these peeps, do so. it will change your life.

secondly, clare rae and victoria bennett – the gals behind the feminist project (next wave 2010) – posted the fabulous news (via the guardian) that iceland has started to challenge new zealand in being the country with supreme feminist credentials. they have a female prime minister (hello? australia? you’re in the 21st century now. it’s ok to trust people other than white middle-class men), who is openly gay AND who has taken the bold, but totally righteous step of closing down strip clubs and criminalising the sex trade.

the article is here, for the full story, but my first reaction was ‘like whoa.’ and i read a cracker of a quote: “i guess the men of iceland will just have to realise that women are not for sale”.

this feels very different to criminalising prostitution from a law and order point of view.

i don’t know whether it will make a difference or not, but how awesome would that be if a whole (albeit small) country decided that women’s bodies were not commodities and that the industry shut down. cut out the supply and the demand shrivels up.

even more interesting was to note her acknowledgment of the hard work that feminist lobby groups have done to bring about the change. politically, i’ve never heard anyone say that shit before. wow.

don’t get me wrong – the whole thing challenges my feminist ideas about the unionisation and decriminalisation of prostitution – which, in my mind, always sought to empower the women who decided to take on that profession. but perhaps that’s resigning to the inevitability of an awful role for women in society. and men, for that matter (as poor dears who can’t manage their urges). i don’t know right now. i think i need to hit the books again.

and of course, this whole decision is based on the old-school idea that it’s men paying for sex from women. but i wonder, in terms of queer sexual politics,whether this will be a massively awesome overhaul too.

either way, iceland [up].

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european architecture

how gorgeous is it! such a beautiful shape, so simply designed and, as my friend esther said, such nobility in that archway. found in a backyard, northern austria, west of vienna. in a small town with a couple of streets and a water pump. so cute.

if you’re friends with me on facebook, or have checked out my flickr site, you may have seen this pic before. but for those who haven’t, i just had to share it.

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Vienna: MQ

brilliant, i tell you, brilliant

In my original travel plans, I hadn’t intended to come to Vienna. It was more of a deviation east than i was intending and i was thinking that i’d rather just spend more time in Venice. Thankfully my best friend Sarah reminded me about Hundertwasser in Vienna, which reminded me about Egon Schiele and The Third Man in Vienna. Phew! I almost missed out on one of the most culturally rich cities in the fucking world, all because it was a ‘little out of my way’.

My first impressions of Vienna were absolutely shite. I rocked up at the hostel and all I could see was yet another utilitarian grey block, thanks to Hitler, Speer et al. It was way further out of town than I thought, was full of school kids, the rooms stank, the food was scheiße and Lunchlady Doris was working in kitchen. I just got over all of that, when at 6:30am, our room was woken up by the alarm clock of a girl in the bed near mine, who was in the shower. It went on and on, and on. louder, louder, louder. I managed to turn it off somehow, only to have it go off again 15 minutes later! fuck! so, in the interest of the common good, the alarm clock ended being taken out of the room and flung down the hallway, by someone resembling a tired australian who swears a bit.

So, the first couple of proper days in Vienna have been spent in the MuseumsQuartier, checking out 4 amazing art institution and some fantastic exhibitions.


Yesterday I checked out the abso-fucking-lutely fantastic AzW: ArkitekturezentrumWien and the brillian show a_schau – a survey of Austrian architectural milestones from the 20th/21st Century. The Austrians are well-known for their architecture and it was great to see it all laid out in one show, with images, text and social/political context (including, yes, that ol’ WWII thang). And the accompanying typeface was wicked – all architectural like-ish. Grouped into Prologue (from around the time of the Secession, the pinpoint of modern architecture in Vienna), Red Vienna, Landscape, Power (Hitler, etc), Reconstruction, System (post-war economic efficient crapness), Idealism and Collage, covering a generation of architects each time. I found out that Linz was Hitler’s favourite city, which put a little bit of a bad-taste tarnish on the fantastic time I had there. heh. The whole centre was great! I couldn’t absorb any more architecture, so couldn’t check out the Margherita Spillering exhibition, but I did buy a little cut-out plan of the Secession, so i can have my own little model at home! tee hee!


After heading back to the hostel to recharge and regroup, I went back to MQ and went to MUMOK, the MUseum der MOdernKunst (Museum of Modern Art, just in case you didn’t pick up on that complex German there…). There were 2 major special shows on at the MUMOK, a Sigmar Polke retrospective and an installation by Austrian artist Markus Huemer, plus the exhibition of their modernist collection on the 8th floor. I went up there first and it was fucking amazing! It was a strongly curated and designed show, with a range of painting, sculpture, product design, architectural models, film, photography, hell they even had typeface design workings by Herbert Bayer (an ‘n’, ‘h’, two ‘a’s and a ‘d’, for those who have a bit of a font fetish). It really showed the importance and marked interdisciplinary aspect of modern art – Mies Van Der Rohe did buildings and they had his Barcelona chair there. Bayer’s fonts and his famous photograph of the guy with the chunk out of his armpit. Mondrian paintings and then the architectural model of the building which replicated them, designed by. Sculpture, replicating paintings, drawing replicating font, line and form becoming theme and content in their own right – such an important collection in terms of understanding the history of art and visual communication! Worth the entry price alone!

After that ecstatic experience, I checked out the 3 floors of the installation by Markus Huemer. He has a thing for blue in the same way I have a thing for red – he uses it as his indicator (or signifier) in a range of methods: A series of blue screens, with subtle differences in resolution and method of projections, a great interactive piece where you could create a Pollock-like Abstract Expressionist work by walking across the room and triggering sensors, and the lowest floor was a series of large paintings depicting half-drawn pictures of flowers and trees – nature, with titles like trojanhorse.exe – the modern plague bacteria.

Sigmar Polke is someone I should do like his use of lacquered tracing paper as substrate (yes Charles, there’s that word again), I like his ‘not touching the paper’ type absorption works and his toner transfer works, but they are only a few aspects of the work and when i see it, all i see are the trillions of naive bitsy shitty works that have been spawned in his wake and I want to vomit. harsh? genau, but i can’t help how it makes me feel.


Today, I hit the last 2 big galleries at MQ: the Leopold Museum and the Kunsthalle Wien.

The Leopold Museum houses a great collection of Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele’s work. But to be honest, I only really wanted to check out Egon Schiele. I know he’s a really important artist, but Gustav Klimt still leaves me cold, despite a brief backflip a while back.

But Egon Schiele, man, I could go on about him for days. And days. His paintings are the stuff of love – and I don’t mean gooey Hallmark love, but sinewy, angular, a little bit skewiff, enraptured, awkward love, not to mention pink bits. If Courbet is the king of painting “The Source”, then Egon Schiele is the righteous prince. But that’s not exactly what I love about his painting – it’s the way he paints, with a great combination of glaze and goop, line and form, soft and hard (and if you’ve ever painted with oils, you’ll know how hard that actually is). He does hands, feet and faces like no other and I can’t do any for shit, which is possibly why I idolize him. And then outside his paintings, he’s got all the hallmarks of a rock’n’roll painting icon – school drop out who drew all the time, went to art school, but fought against it to create the NeueKunstGruppe (New Art Group) and was incredibly prolific before dying a tragic death in the Spanish Flu plage of 1918, 2 months after his new wife and 6 month-old had succumbed to it. If that isn’t beautiful and tragic, I don’t know what is. (A record by The Smiths, perhaps?)

Then, same as before, I went back to the hotel, took time to recharge, organise accommodation/travel for the next week and then headed back to the KunsthalleWien and the show Traum and Trauma (Dream and Trauma – great title)


Holy shit, this was a great show! It’s works from the collection of Dakis Joannou, which I didn’t realise until I got there – he’s known to me as the collector of Tim Noble/Sue Webster’s work, whose work I love, so i knew this show was going to be great. There were about 35 fantastic artists, including Kiki Smith, Cindy Sherman, Maurizia Catalan, William Kentridge, Jeff Koons, Gregory Crewdson! Big guns, I tell you, big guns in the contemporary scene. My favourite works were by Noble/Webster – the Black Narcissus (silicon casts of Noble’s dick and Webster’s fingers, together to make a silhouetter of their Janus-like two-faced head) and He/She – those fantastic sculptures of found objects/welded steel to make the silhouette of them pissing. Shit hot stuff, i tell you, shit hot. And each room had a little tear-off room shit that you could take with you and have your own mini-catalogue. I really, really want to buy the proper catalogue, but as it is i’m carrying around too much crap and have no way to get it home. Amazon wishlist, perhaps.


If you’re ever in Vienna only for a couple of days, you could do worse than just spend your time in the MuseumsQuartier. Not only are there those 4 big galleries, but studios for artists, design studios, fashion workshops, art supports orgs, the Design Forum and animation houses. I believe that culture needs to be intergated into the fabric of a city/society, but having it all in one place certainly packs a mean punch.

I’ve got a few more days here, in which I’m going to squeeze in Hundertwasser Haus (oh yeah), BA-CA Arts Forum and a walking tour of Vienna themed around The Third Man (only one of my favourite movies of all time). I’ll keep you all posted about that, don’t you worry. Heh.

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