illustration by christian svanes kolding

Select your lemons carefully. They’re going to be your companions for quite some time.

Do not rush. Appearances may deceive. Evaluate your candidates by the pure intentions of their scent and depth of character. Don’t name check or patronize. Be thoughtful.

Cut the lemons: there’s no need for pleasantries but do go easy on them for they have a long journey ahead. Don’t cut all the way down through the core: you need them to maintain their dignity otherwise the whole thing falls apart. Be gentle and live in the moment.

Think of the salt as an embodiment of the…

Pandemic Journals

Fumbling Towards a “Good” Grief

illustration by christian svanes kolding

I am a hopelessly inept griever. I know it exists, I know I’m supposed to be experiencing it right now but I won’t make room for it other than to be annoyed by its inconvenience.

I’ve discovered that my family is terrible at grief as well. We go through it each on our own, none of us connecting with each other. We won’t even put a word to it.

I guess I don’t know how to grieve. I’ve had many opportunities but I still haven’t succeeded in having a “good” grief.

I sit with it. I wait for it. I…


The Queen of Superba Avenue

agave americana — illustration by christian svanes kolding

Not far from the traffic circle on Superba Avenue is an enormous agave plant that’s taller than the tallest human, wider than most cars are long, and has elegant, extended arms, which unfurl like a creature from the sea.

It attracts wildlife and onlookers from miles around.

Monarch butterflies flutter above its rows of teeth on the elongated leaves, which radiate from its core. Birds occasionally rest on the spiny outer reaches of its arms and squirrels find shelter from the sun upon the cool pebbles in its shadow.

There’s no shortage of human passers-by who look up from their…


A fable about fragility

illustration by christian svanes kolding

“Without morning routines, what is there?” Omar says to himself as he brushes his teeth.

“We’d be lost, wouldn’t we?” he surmises as he spits into a stream of water pouring out from the faucet and watches it circle the drain.

“Yes, we would. All of us.”

Even inside a radius of five blocks from his home, there’s a spectacular range of routines for Omar to witness. Daybreak starts with a nearby resident who blows their nose as hard as they can four times in agonizingly slow succession, so emphatic that all of the neighbors can hear it. As loud…

Pandemic Journals

illustration by christian svanes kolding

There’s a New York that now exists more in imagination than in reality — a New York where friends didn’t scatter with the wind, where bookstores, theaters and restaurants stay open late into the evening, and the night air is filled with chatter and electricity.

That’s the New York I know but haven’t experienced since last autumn — when the summer of 2019 finally faded from view, before any of us knew that winter would transition into an endless cold spring, like a passing, bringing with it a pandemic that decimated communities across the city and exposed a failure from…

Pandemic Journals

illustration by christian svanes kolding

When The Pandemic Comes

March 21, 2020

Confined to our apartment, we have to make do with the artifacts of nature. While our friends who left the city before the quarantine send us live videos of themselves enjoying the outdoors, Adriana and I have candles that have been molded into the shape of pine cones as we burn a stick of Palo Santo to evoke the scent of a fireplace in the countryside. …

photo credit (crédit photo): olivier blouin

As governments become more authoritarian while technological advances in surveillance at the same time allow business interests to increasingly outmaneuver civilian privacy rights, democracies across the world face ever-growing threats to their viability and in some cases, their very existence. During such a crisis, the vitality of public spaces in city centers becomes critically important.

Parks and public squares provide opportunities for residents to engage with each other: they gather for the purpose of recreation and collective experiences, such as live events and public art, but also for practicing speech and free expression. …

illustration by christian svanes kolding

Metaphors cleverly allow us to express ideas through other ideas as a way to communicate a deeper understanding of them. They’re beautifully handy because they also shed light on how we think about ideas and concepts yet too often the same metaphors are used over and over again, which diminishes their impact until their meaning is eventually lost.

For example, how many times have you heard the term “silver bullet”? It’s used to explain a seemingly magical solution to a difficult problem. …

photo by christian svanes kolding, from 2008

Foreword: 2018 is the ten-year anniversary of Mr. Brainwash’s seminal debut show in Los Angeles. Here’s a look back at my first impressions from opening night.

originally posted June 18, 2008

Speculation aside that he is a puppet of the British artist, Banksy, Mr. Brainwash has finally launched his debut solo exhibit, hosting it inside the former CBS production studios in Hollywood.

Impressive by virtue of its sheer volume, the highly derivative, self-deprecating collection offers a wide range of sculptures, paintings, frescoes, silk-screens and set constructions. Though there are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual components in the show, the…

illustration by christian svanes kolding

The camps have been there for as long as I can remember. There seems to be one on just about every island. Tucked away from the main roads, they’re usually at the far end of dirt tracks, out of view from the buses, which ferry holiday seekers to the seaside towns.

I’ve never been inside one of the camps but I’ve seen them, mostly from a distance. A few times from my grandfather’s fishing boat but also from the edge of the woods. My brothers and I would sometimes hike from island to island, through marshlands and forests of aspens…

Christian Svanes Kolding

Filmmaker, Writer, Artist. My work has been in MoMA. On Medium, I write speculative fiction, humor and the occasional essay. From Copenhagen, lives in NYC. 🇩🇰

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