proposing on the Easter sunday at sunrise with the view over Copenhagen from the Vor Frue Kirke

The Trumpet Story

Københavns Domkirke at sunrise

Vor Frue Kirke – Københavns Domkirke | Good morning, Copenhagen!

Trumpet Solo at Sunrise

one simple story
and maybe not a story
and maybe not so simple 
we’d like to tell about
we do remember it from childhood
and maybe not from childhood
and maybe even don’t remember
but will try to recollect
“Tomorrow morning you can see the sun rise over the rooftops of Copenhagen from the spire of Vor Frue Kirke. Be there at 06.30 and join for a walk up the stairs accompanied by a trumpet solo.”  It was the Easter sunday morning. I was surprised to see that many people at this hour. But in a few moments it became self-evident why.
Awaiting the sunrise | Københavns Domkirke

Awaiting the sunrise | Københavns Domkirke


It was an experience which doesn’t travel well with words or pictures, but I will do my best.


overview of Copenhagen towards City Hall side from the Københavns Domkirke

City Hall | Good morning, Copenhagen!

We were up in the bell tower with the wonderful view over Copenhagen. Waiting for the sun to rise. At the very tip of it the trumpet played a tune and people lit the candles. They sang a carol and let the moment sink in. On our way down, we noticed a couple that the guard just left standing there. He was making a proposal and she didn’t know. The guard had promised to the man that he could have the spire and the sunrise just for themselves.


overview of Copenhagen towards the Baltic Sea with the bridge to Malmo, Sweden

The Sunrise | Good morning, Copenhagen!

proposing on the Easter sunday at sunrise with the view over Copenhagen from the Vor Frue Kirke

“will you …” | Good morning, Copenhagen!



a dog covered with snow crossing the road on a crosswalk

CPH: personal

With our Copenhagen based photo collective we decided to have a two week photo project: “A personal view on Copenhagen”. It was inspired by the preview of a project by Michał Kwapisiewicz.

It was very interesting to see what people came up with as their take on the brief. The idea was to have some fresh work. During those two weeks many things were in transition for me and I think my final selection for this mini project reflects it. I didn’t really conceptualized my take on the brief. These are more or less snap shots from my daily life in Copenhagen at the moment. Most of the photographs are taken on my way to the Danish class or explorations of the neighborhood I currently live in, Norrebro. You’ll see quite a few cranes since the city is constructing or reconstructing many sites at the moment. These cranes become part of the cityscape. I wonder what are those internal cranes that currently work on my personal reconstruction…

When I was going through the photographs I took in those two weeks, I was listening to some music by Ósk. I felt like they go together very well and put together the slideshow with the final selects. Þorbjörg Ósk generously gave her permission to use one of her songs for it.

people looking at the Australian red sand at the 15m3 installation at Den Frie

Modern art

people looking at the Australian red sand at the 15m3 installation at Den Frie

Jette Gejl and Bjorn Godwin: 15m3 at the Den Frie Center of Contemporary Art | Copenhagen, Denmark

Modern art:

Reflections on the 15m3 installation by Jette Gejl and Bjorn Godwin at the Den Frie Center of Contemporary Art

Modern art is not really self explanatory.. You really need to know the context of what was happening – at the exhibit we only see the result of a thought process and in order to appreciate it we need to get into the narrative that was accompanying the artist in the act of producing his/her art pieces..

What was the starting point? How was it evolving in-between? What were the alternatives?.. The whole decision-making process is hidden from the viewer – we only get the final result, which would have probably made sense if we’d known all the intermediate steps that had lead to it, the full tree of decisions.. However, we’re left to wonder about the final result of this tedious thought process and all the reductions in-between. I’m usually extremely puzzled and have no idea ..

If you’re lucky to attend the artist talk – then many things fall into their places.. Otherwise it remains as a random object rather than art.. Out of context… Yet another bubble..

If there is no one to tell that this sand came from Australia and it is supposed to explore the role of art in the climate change debate by stating how much tons of carbon emissions it has produced by bringing it all the way to Denmark.. If there is no one to tell you this, the red sand remains just the red sand on the floor of a room…

However, even knowing all of the above, it doesn’t really help in overcoming the amotivation in the environmental behaviors in my opinion. Somehow just giving the information about those issues, even in the artistic form about the overuse of the natural resources and pollution that we all jointly create, unfortunately will not lead to taking any constructive actions something that would lead to change, at the best it will make people wonder for some time.

I think if the artist would sort of follow up on the people who came to view the exhibit it can bring the concept even further. Just a small question to ask: “Now that you know this, what are you going to do about it?”, “If you do care for these issues, what could you do as an individual to contribute to the overall change?”

I believe that all the big changes happen due to small individual acts combined together..

15m3 is part of the 5 Solo exhibition at the Den Frie Center of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark. It is on display from 2 March till 31 March, 2013.

People figures, siluettes in contrasting sun light in Amager park in Copenhagen, Denmark. Particiapnts of the photowalk event organized through CouchSurfing.

Photography and visual arts group startup

I will quote Scott Urquhart’s message on CouchSurfing forum about our joint venture that will start this Saturday, January 19th. If you’re a photographer based in Copenhagen and this idea sounds appealing for you – we will be happy to see you!

A friend and I are starting a group with the aim to meet on a regular basis to inspire each other with photography and other visual arts projects. Some of the initial ideas for regular activities would be:

-peer review/feedback on work
-discuss (art-)photography books and other publications
– watch documentaries together
– any other ideas that might give creative inspiration and help develop projects

If anyone would like to be involved, we are having an initial planning meeting this coming Saturday (19th Jan) and would love to have you come along. The details of the meeting are:

Saturday 19th Jan
13.00 – 15.00

Cafe at Støberiet
Blågårds Plads 3, 2.sal og 3.sal

If you think you might drop by, it would be good to send me a message, but also fine if you just show up. Hope to see you !

Scott and Anna


The idea came up on the photowalk, organized by another couchsurfer and photography enthusiast on December 1st in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was a wonderful day, but I still didn’t had the time to create a comprehensive gallery from that event. The image of the winter bathing club and this reflection in the windows are from that walk.

Winter of My Discontent

car on a street in Umea, artificial lights, total darkness at 5pm

Umea 5 pm | 4 hours of daylight | Umea, Sweden

The Ultimate Loneliness Experience

Umeå, winter 2011-2012

The winter of 2011-2012 was the darkest one in my life (so far) and I hope such a winter will never repeat. Umeå gets about four hours of daylight during late autumn and winter. If you are not local it really messes up the brain. It is something quite impossible to get used to. One has to be born there in order to be fully adapted.

It was my third winter in Umeå and it was all dark everywhere. It’s dark outside, it’s dark inside. I always felt that it is not enough light. It is dark and empty inside me. My clothes are dark.. There is this longing for the light, for being happy, but it is impossible, I’m trapped inside the darkness.. longing to go out..

It is hard to draw a border – where is the day and where is the night? It is just all plain dark all round. There were days (weeks) when I don’t remember how they have passed.. What was I doing then?.. Time flow became distorted.. I was lost in those worlds of darkness.. I was forgetting myself there.. It was impossible to escape it.. I couldn’t cook.. I’d forget to eat.. I lost weight and was sick all the time..

It is nearly impossible to transmit what ones goes through when someone close dies. At least that’s how it was for me.. I stopped going to work due to the cultural clash. I couldn’t deal with the questions people were asking me at work. I guess for them they were normal, appropriate questions.. For me – each time it was a torture.. It seems like there are culturally acceptable formulas of what people ask and what the expected answer should be. I didn’t really figure that out… I stayed home, avoiding questions and going through the experiences and emotions that those questions were evoking in me..

It is far better to be around people when in grief, but for me it was impossible..I was just stuck alone in that total, engulfing darkness from every possible side… As W. Saroyan puts it: “it was a house in which dwelt also rage, sorrow, hatred, and madness itself”

looking out of the boat window in Copenhagen

loneliness | Copenhagen, Denmark

How to get back to life? How to come back to normal weight? Why don’t I feel like eating? How to restore normal daily routines and schedules? Why I feel strange after I eat? Why the cough doesn’t go away? Why the apartment is in total mess and I don’t have strength to tidy it up? How to restore the interest to work? How to come back to life and stop this just existing mode? Everything seems so meaningless…

Some of the questions I texted to my mom at some point – who, like me lives elsewhere..

Modern nomads…

Change in perspective, yes.. All the academic talks at lunch breaks and fikas became so distant to me.. All those aspirations, publications, findings, new questions, intrigues, etc., etc. seemed so out of context, out of the big picture.. My big picture included what I have encountered during my father’s illness – all the aftermath of the financial crisis that unraveled in a small country without strong economy.. A country that is sinking into the oblivion as a result of some “chess-game” on some higher levels..

For a long time I was just doing abstract science – solving abstract puzzles out of abstract curiosity by applying all sorts of abstract models.. My research project actually sounds interesting – comparing how people see time of their lives, what are their orientations towards time, what are their decisions based on (past, present or future, or a combination of all three) across 24 countries worldwide… In reality it all comes to just numbers… A lot of data.. A lot of abstract numbers that assumingly represent reality..

I was thinking, ok, we eventually will finish the project, we will publish the results, and what’s next? Who is going to read it? Other scientists, who would cite our work.. We will be happy for the references.. We would be eager to know our citation index.. and in 20 years from now who will be still interested in this?? There are so many publications these days, it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happens in the field.. It’s a meaningless race.. Science lives in it’s own scientific bubble and it is rare when it actually touches the reality. At the time I couldn’t see any tangible results of my research in the near future.. Something that would be used by people in their daily lives, something that would improve it in one way or another..

That’s how the “10th ward project” came around. Something very tangible. Something with a useful result. I was too full with death, I needed something that would fill me with life. Ironically, the project is aimed at supporting a palliative care unit in Latvian Oncology Center, Riga, thus, it is aimed at supporting a place where people can have a good quality of death. Now that some time has passed, I can say it is actually very important.

The project is also a story about how some public decisions (austerity measures in this case) can directly affect not only personal “quality-of-life”, but also “quality-of-death”. Latvia dies out by the rate of 30 persons per day. With the population being a bit more than two million, it is not hard to do the math – around year 2200 there won’t be Latvia any more…. I wonder, when the last person dies, will the death also cease to exist, since there won’t be any one left to experience it? It’s like old philosophical question: “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound?”

barricading the parliament in Barcelona, spanish revolution and Indignados, june 2011

Crisis of Capitalism | Indignados, Barcelona, 15.06.2011

In this golden age of self-expressing technologies, the topic of death and dying remains sort of a tabu. We still don’t know how to actually talk about it. We are exposed to death all the time through mass media, but usually it is in a “far-away-land”, even if something happened in our neighborhood, it still remains distant and abstract. We are very well equipped with defense mechanisms that allow us skillfully avoid the topic.

Only the death that happens “on our hands” so to speak, enters our private world and messes it up completely. In Heidegger‘s terms: Those who die don’t experience death. It is us, who remain – have to deal with it, to make sense of it, to incorporate it into our experiences and live with it. And that’s an ordeal, I must say..

I had to deal with it on my own, in another country, away from my mom, my sister, my boyfriend… far away from friends who speak and think in the same language, who knew what I needed the most at the time… And how do you incorporate death of my father’s sister three and a half months later? Actually I couldn’t.. This news were somehow distant to me.. It was too soon, unexpected and I was too drained to experience one more death in our family..

M. Mamardashvili says that death concludes our life, and only in the death it is complete and its full meaning can be educed”. But how is it to live knowing that you won’t ever hear the voice again? There won’t be any possibilities to argue about something or laugh together at a joke.. How is it to know that it won’t be possible to actually meet the person any more, to give a hug…

palliative care unit in RIga, the bed where my father stayed and died

my father's bed | Palliative care unit, Riga, Latvia


No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

–  John Donne


What I have learned so far from this experience is that the most appropriate question to ask is “How can I help?”. Work is only work and it gives you only 1 day off for a funeral. The accumulated through ages cultural traditions and rituals are very wise, even if at the moment you don’t understand a thing what’s going on, follow it, let yourself be led into it. It will make sense later and will help feel at peace. It is important to have a always-demanding-for-food cat. And when the sun finally will shine it will have a totally different value.


follow the light | the 10th ward project | Copenhagen, Denmark

clowns bubbles kids parc Barcelona

Barcelona workshop with Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb, March 2011

old hospital barcelona barri gotic

Old Hospital

Barcelona: Exploring Your Vision

With Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb

26.03-02.04, 2011

The announcement in Aperture newsletter was burning my mind. Barcelona. Street photography. The price and requirement of the digital camera (which I did not have at the time) had a somewhat cooling effect. However, something was still lingering with the possibility and made me write another inquiry very past the deadline if there were any places still left. It was new year’s eve and it felt special to receive the following line as a reply: “We have two more spaces for Barcelona. Please be quick if you want to join in!” Thus, I made it as a belated present from myself for my 30st birthday and a New Year’s present.

January was spent consulting with friends and reading all sorts of reviews in order to find a decent yet affordable digital camera. It arrived in February and I had about month and a half to figure out how the digital world works… Sunday meetings with Nicolas Zea, Colombian photographer and cameraman, who found his refuge in Sweden, and other friends interested in photography, helped me to cover the basics of the digital photography. These meetings unintentionally grew into sort of a photo-club that was running for quite some time here in Umea. It was interesting to discuss there and see reaction of my Turkish friends on the Alex Webb’s book “Istanbul: City of a Hundred Names”. I also got “Violet Isle” by both Alex and Rebecca to acquaint myself with their work.

Before the workshop commences we were recommended to read a few books: G.Orwell “Homage to Catalonia”, R.Hughes “Barcelona” and I.Falcones “Cathedral of the Sea”. I managed to fully read only the last one. When ordering the book I had a gut feeling that it should be a church I stumbled upon on my first visit to Barcelona in November 2007. I remember that trip very vividly. What struck me then – how walkable the city is. How different in character are its districts, yet they fall together in amazing puzzle that is just made for exploration on foot. It was such a pleasure to walk aimlessly around, without any specific agenda.. Of course, I wanted to see Gaudi’s masterpieces and other known sites of Barcelona. But I just let my feet bring me places and I’d be happy to see whatever I would stumble upon. I was amazed by how intuitive the city is and how many things one can do in one day. In one of those wanderings I went inside a church and it engulfed me with its special atmosphere. I stayed inside for quite a while, just breathing it in, like a sponge. The church didn’t have any special look from the outside, but inside it would open up all its beauty and it felt very calming somehow. It was giving a serene feeling, and feeling of connectedness to that place. Couldn’t remember the name, but recognized it immediately once saw the images – Santa Maria del Mar. (Should scan photographs from that trip… it would be interesting to compare now..)

Our street photography workshop group was accommodated near this church in Barri Gòtic. First few days were reserved to get to know each other, our interests in photography and to get the feel of the city as well. Each participant was asked to bring 30-40 prints “of the work that you most care about”. I don’t know what others experienced, but I felt like I was stripped naked when it was my turn to show them…

The next five days were filled with shootings, morning reviews of the work done the previous day and evening were reserved for some social activities. It was an intensive workshop and it took me some time for everything to sink in, to digest.. Since I had no idea what to expect, I didn’t have any predefined expectations really, was just openly going with the flow. Altogether, it was a very enriching experience. A mixture of wonder, amusement, curiosity, frustration, anxiety, back pain, inability to understand, flow of moments or total emptiness, being lost, changes in inspiration, discovery, joy, sadness, lack of sleep, bewilderment, good company and gratitude. There were days full of excitement and moments that just screamed to be captured. There were very empty days, when everything seemed so dull..

Besides feedback on our daily shooting results, we covered many other aspects of photography world. We tried our best at editing and sequencing not only our own images, but also we had an opportunity to exercise with Alex’s slides on the light-tables. We had a few occasions to discuss the bookmaking process, the idea, the editing, the sequencing and the design of the final product. We saw the dummy of an already published book. We became part of the process of Rebecca’s work becoming a book – “My Dakota”. We also had a chance to see actual prints and get to know the decision making about the format and the size and other issues related to exhibiting own work.. Trent gave us an intro to the Light Room and made a handy tutorial as well.

The workshop was designed with a great taste. Both figuratively and literally. Besides the photography topics, we had a lecture on Barcelona, its history, artists, architecture and tips for places to go to photograph. There was an evening with the Spanish guitar music and an evening with tasting the local wines, cheeses and olive oil.. Every day we were continuously exploring the culinary world of Catalunya in different restaurants that Barcelona has to offer. A full immersion into the culture…

This gallery is the tangible result of the workshop (pictures were edited by Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb). Another tangibles appeared on my bookshelves following recommendations: Saul Leiter (am still hunting for his “Early Color” book), “Signs & Relics” and “Goings on about Town” by Sylvia Plachy, “Street Seen” and “The Contact Sheet”. Intangible results manifest themselves gradually and at times when I least expect them..

I feel that I was lucky to be part of all the processes during the workshop. And I am very grateful for it! The unforgettable “hop, hop!” of Anne Lise Flavik.. and other surprises of her very special organizational skills. Many useful and practical tips from Trent.

It was a real pleasure to be part of the group along with

Annette Soelter
Carolina Sanchez-Monge
Dahlia Verjee
Dilla Djalil-Daniel
Eddy Hermans
Gwen Cattaneo Adorno
Jon Ingmundsen
Lisa Gilby
Magnus Sundberg
Margreeth Vroom
Sandra Cattaneo Adorno
Sarah Dinnick
Tove Lauluten
Victor Rafel Gonzales
Willy Eger
Yngve Vogt

Hope we meet again!

Reflecting on it one year later I am amazed by the amount of energy Alex and Rebecca put into it. I still wonder how they actually do it – reviewing such an amount of images per day? What is their “box with coffee” that helps to clear the sight and move on to new set of perfumes? Some other open questions that I am wondering about – how does one keep a fresh eye, so to speak? How to let go the images that keep on flowing in the mind after a whole day of shooting? What makes one image work and another not work? It’s such a thin line always.. and quite subjective also…