by nadine

The ability to travel has shaped cultures fundamentally throughout history, be it through trade, war, pilgrimage, migration, private or state-sponsored explorations. Many journeys recurred annually or were linked to the seasons, such as cattle herders' migrations between summer pastures and winter shelter, extended families coming together at anniversaries of births, deaths and marriages, itinerant merchants and entertainers travelling between markets and festivals. Since the industrial age these slow peregrinations have given way to mechanical efficiency, where the primary reason for travelling is to arrive at the destination ASAP.

The Pollinators, a platform for creative meandering, explores ways to re-establish the journey itself as the aim of travel, connecting with the landscape and its inhabitants along the way. The Pollinators tap into the mobile potential of our contemporary cultures and technologies to seek out and experiment with resilient modes of cultural travel, including biking, hiking and other locomotion powered by renewable sources, both elemental and muscular in origin.

A fold in a map

Pollinators became a platform for the Peregrini – wandering strangers and itinerant artists/collectors – who embarked on a bicycle expedition following the core concept of industrial travel, the straight line. A fold was discovered on a train map – a line moving straight through the heart of Europe, from the Baltic to the Mediterranean coast. This arbitrary line was a limitation, an absolute rule, but also a score that would help the artists explore their given territory – a 25 km-wide strip from Koszalin in Poland to Rab in Croatia – without hesitation, second thoughts, or prejudice.

Overcoming tourism

The journey became a quest of co-creation in a group of intentional travellers inspired by Hakim Bey’s “Overcoming Tourism”:

“The purpose of intentional travel, with its 'adventures' and its uprooting of habits, is to shake loose the dervish from all the trance­ effects of ordinariness. Travel, in other words, is meant to induce a certain state of consciousness or 'spiritual state' – that of Expansion.”

Following the invisible vector of a fold in the map was an invitation for a joint in-situ improvisation with a multitude of personalities, rather than the line being the most straight and efficient way to reach the end node. People were invited to suggest ways to connect to the landscape and the journey, to investigate and explore the ways artists and adventurers can form a portable, nomadic creative studio powered by sun, wind and muscles.

Nomadic studio

In the aftermath of the last major ice age, early Europeans traveled north following the receding permafrost through an unknown landscape. In Pollinators, the Peregrini group moved south, during what many see as the prelude to another major climatic shift. This trip was an experiment in the sustainable mobility of cultural practices, framed by the environmental, social and economic challenges our future societies may be facing – such as the unpredictability of fuel prices or the wastefulness of overconsumption, tourism included. While on the road we explored how artists come together in fragile research processes, and how they can break out of static, heavy-handed approaches to production. How flexible is the artistic process of co-creation when it is disconnected from the power grid? What existing and emerging technologies could meet these challenges? And what communication channels would be most suited for maintaining contact with the wider world when artists move off the grid in small, nomadic communities for long periods?

Experimental journey

Moving straight down the middle of Europe as a nomadic artistic platform entails many challenges. The Pollinators brought together nine people from very diverse backgrounds to live, travel and create together while improvising on the road (and often across rural hinterlands): navigating, finding food and shelter, repairing bikes and keeping track of each other for almost a month. We gathered for this first peregrination along the fold on 3 July 2012 in Koszalin, Poland. Our experience resulted in numerous works, from sculptures made and installed on the road to maps, video performances and blogs. We felt that this constrained journey served as a valuable format in which people could explore and enrich their creative practices in alternate ways. For many participants this experience instigated new approaches and nomadic working methods. In future we’d like to open up “Default” to individuals from all backgrounds, and pick as-yet unexplored routes arbitrarily folded into various maps of Europe.

“And now, something remains possible – aimless wandering, the sacred drift. … We can allow ourselves to participate, to experience the world as a living relation and not as a themepark.” – Hakim Bey


  • resilients/the_pollinators_review.txt
  • Last modified: 2013-02-11 07:02
  • by nik