Anne de Vries – Travelling without Moving

Opening: 8 December 2004

On view: 16 January 2004

Participating artists:

Studio Gallery, Budapest: Anne de Vries

Trafo Gallery: Hendrik-Jan Hunneman, Gabriel Lester, Raymond Taudin Chabot, Edwin Zwakman

W139 , Amsterdam: Rosa Barba, Attila Csörgő, Sagi Groner, Tibor Gyenis, Tamás Kaszás, Szabolcs Kisspál, Little Warsaw (András Gálik, Bálint Havas), Ádám Kokesch, Gabriel Lester, Attila Menesi, János Sugár, Gyula Várnai, Jan Kempenaers, Thomas Mohr

Public interventions in Budapest: Erick Beltrán, Raymond Taudin Chabot, Elske Neus

curated by Ann Demeester, Edit Molnár, Hajnalka Somogyi

Opening times:

08.december 2004. – 16.január 2005. Budapest
18.december 2004. – 23.Január 2005. Amszterdam

The project will take place during a period in which numerous cultural events have been organized throughout Europe dedicated to the extension of the European Union. Travelling without Moving is realized in the framework of Hongarije aan Zee, Hungarian Cultural season in the Netherlands 2004.

“The worst thing that can happen to an artist is that he is forced to represent his own country”
Andre Breton

Traveling without Moving is a triple project simultaneously happening in Budapest and Amsterdam. It is a co-production, which does not result in a travelling show, but in an event that develops in the same time span but on different locations. One of the basic preoccupations of the curators was to expand the idea of exchange, not sticking to the idea of bi-lateral national representation, not simply using the method of cultural transplantation but to implement an alternative but relatively simple model which would go beyond the limitations of an official exchange framework and will amount to a more intense form of interaction between the arts scene/context and artists of two widely diverging countries.

Thematic framework

Your idle people that leave their native country and go abroad for some reason or reasons which may be derived from one of these general causes -Infirmity of body, Imbecility of the mind, or Inevitable necessity               Laurence Sterne, A sentimental journey, 1765

In the novel Death in Venice Thomas Mann describes how the main character Gustav von Aschenbach on a rainy spring afternoon accidentally runs into an unknown man – inconspicuous, but wearing a backpack and carrying around a walking stick – whose presence overwhelms him with a feeling of disquiet. On seeing the man Aschenbach is confronted with a feeling of ‘Fernweh’, an insuppressible urge to travel.
This kind of inner urge to travel, or le besoin de voyager as Aschenbach calls it is a phenomenon which most of us, even when not equipped with a sense for adventure, are familiar with. It can be equivalent to the desire to discover a country or territory but it can equally signal a sense of escapism, an urgent need to get away from the surroundings you are familiar with. In A sentimental journey Laurence Sterne refers to different types and kinds of travelers and he sums up different reasons – see above – why people decide to ‘sail and post through the politer kingdoms of the globe’. The ‘ inevitable necessity’ he talks about might be the inner urge Mann refers to, it might be an intense desire to accumulate more knowledge and experience but it can also simply be a practical necessity.
This kind of inner urge to travel, or le besoin de voyager as Aschenbach calls it is a phenomenon which most of us, even when not equipped with a sense for adventure, are familiar with. It can be equivalent to the desire to discover a country or territory but it can equally signal a sense of escapism, an urgent need to get away from the surroundings you are familiar with. In A sentimental journey Laurence Sterne refers to different types and kinds of travelers and he sums up different reasons – see above – why people decide to ‘sail and post through the politer kingdoms of the globe’. The ‘ inevitable necessity’ he talks about might be the inner urge Mann refers to, it might be an intense desire to accumulate more knowledge and experience but it can also simply be a practical necessity.
Our experience of a city or country we are traveling to or moving through is very often disconnected from the palpable and ‘objective’ reality of the place we are visiting. This either has to do with prejudices or preconceptions, which distort your perception of the ‘new’ environment you are in and sometimes it merely has to do with a lack of time or with the limitations of the network of local contacts you have established, which means that you only discover parts and fragments of the ‘reality’ you are temporarily residing in.
In a general sense you can say that travelling is not only an experience ‘in the flesh’, it equally amounts to a mental journey – you never leave yourself nor your personal history behind – while travelling and therefore no space or place is ever really or truly new and ‘foreign’. This and other factors lead people to limit themselves to armchair travelling, travelling without moving, travelling in the mind and through the imagination. ‘Armchair travelers’ either look at their everyday surroundings from a new perspective,
1) discovering the unusual in the familiar or
2) they look at ‘regions unknown’ by reading or writing about it, piecing together ‘objective’ facts and figures with ideas and mental concepts they have of a place and mixing that up with longings and desires connected to ‘the Other’.
This referred research for objective facts became even more complex by the easy access of highly diverse “knowledges” in the epoch of new informational technology.

In his reputed book on the phenomenon of orientalism Edward Said seems to suggest that most of us have a lot in common with Flaubert as he points out that our perception of other countries, traditions and cultures, is never neutral or objective but always ‘colored’ by our own longings, desires which we project upon ‘the Other’. ‘The Other’ only exists in the ‘eye of the beholder’, how we experience a foreign reality is determined by our own subjective modes of perception. As so much depends upon the perspective of the viewer, we could state that spaces and places are in that sense interchangeable, however divergent their history, cultural tradition and social structures might be.
What makes a place and space specific and particular, what are the elements constituting its character? Since the late sixties artists have addressed these kind of apparently simple but in reality immensely complex issues while producing site-specific work, made even outside the walls of the museum. Initially, artists mostly solely referred to the physical characteristics and history of the landscape or architectural space but gradually their interventions have been based on knowledge of the entire context.
This obviously entails a large number of problems and numerous publications have been devoted to the topic. How artists, traveling to and working in a completely foreign context, tackle this kind of complications, are the main thematic issues of the project Traveling without Moving.

We wish to thank:
Hongarije aan Zee, Hungarian Cultural season in the Netherlands 2004.
Nemzeti Kulturális Örökség Minisztériuma
Nemzeti Kulturális Alapprogram
Fvárosi Közgy lés Kulturális Bizottsága
Royal Netherlands Embassy in Hungary
Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst
Gemeente Amsterdam
Stichting Doen
Mondriaan StichtinG

Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
VSB Fonds