A year goes to its end, a year full of challenging tasks from my part. Why challenging? To answer that question, I have to go back in time, to spring 2008.
Back then, I was in a quandary: should I retire from my position at the EU Commission in Brussels? My ordinary retirement date would be 31 December 2009, but why wait so long? Moreover, given that I could retire earlier, what should I do with the seemingly endless spare time that I would be facing, stretching at least five years into the future?
To make a long story short, I decided to leave work in May 2008, since I felt I was still in reasonable shape and ready to take on new tasks. The main task I had in mind was to take count of my challenging life as European migrant and to report back my findings to a (hopefully) interested public. For that I had to re-invent myself as digital photographer and designer as well as author, since I felt the urge to make something of the thousands of negatives that had been resting peacefully in cupboards, awaiting their ascension to pictures in print.
Once the decision was made, I scheduled an appointment with the Head of the Commission's Unit for Capital Movements and Financial Integration, where I had spent my last working years. Into his room I strode, with a big photographic book in tow. It was a rather heavy tome, called "Ansel Adams at 100", the ultimate retrospective of a famous photographer who happened to be my spiritual mentor. With a heavy "thud" the tome landed on his desk and he was rather surprised to see it. When I opened the book, he was amazed further to note two of my own pictures inter-leaved on the mid-spread.
I asked him whether he thought that my pictures would deserve to be placed in a tome like that. He was too polite to say "No!", so I immediately followed up by stating that I had the intention to produce a book like Ansel's, but that it would take me at least five years to do so. Finally I asked his understanding that I had to leave the Commission forthwith, in order to finalize this great project within the life-span that remained to me.
The Head of Unit was flabbergasted and sorry to see me leave, but I was quite satisfied to have managed a grand exit. Since that day, I have spent an unordinary amount of time on this project. I am glad to say that I eventually got my act together and managed at long last to see this project to its fruition. On the desk in front of me lies now a manuscript containing some 60 pages of tales from the two cities – Stockholm and Brussels – where I spent most of my life as grown-up, inter-leaved with some 120 pictures I have taken there during my life-time. Once printed, this will turn out as a tome as heavy as "Ansel Adams at 100", quality comparisons aside ;–)
I should be a happy man, were it not for the small matter of financing! High quality printing of black/white photographs is very expensive. So some time will have to be spent after New Year to find sponsors for the "grande oeuvre". I will be looking for organisations or agencies willing to share part of the printing costs and who will receive, as reward, a commensurate number of copies, to distribute to their contacts. All good ideas in that regard from you kind readers are of course welcome!
UPPDATE: The finished book can now, from abroad, be ordered from my website emsvision.com. Swedish readers can buy it from BOKUS or Liten Upplaga.
But why worry about the future? There are more imminent pleasures to savour! New Year is approaching with "Siebenmeilenstiefeln". The champagne is in the cooler; snacks already on the table; neighbors are gathering on their balconies; and some timid sparks of light are announcing the great spectacle of a firework, which we are privileged to admire over Hammarby Sound whilst another year is taking its first timid steps. So let me take this occasion to wish all the hardy readers of this blog: