Armenia

2011/12

about the travel

Trip to Armenia

For the winter of 2011/12 I applied for an artist residency at the Art and Cultural Studies Laboratory in Armenia. Still deeply impressed by the experiences of the overland trip to India, I decided to go to Yerevan by public transport.
I was interested in dreams at the time. In addition, after initial planning, it quickly became clear that I would mainly be traveling through post-socialist and post-Soviet countries. Most of the people there had – in addition to other important upheavals – acquired a different relationship to borders.
I prepared some questions to ask people I met along the way.

For the return journey, I chose a different route than for the outward journey, so that my journey finally took me through 17 countries. I conducted a total of 42 interviews. I asked the interviewees to answer my questions in their mother tongue and received recordings in 18 languages.
The outward journey led from Germany via Prague and Brno in the Czech Republic to Bratislava, Slovakia and from there to Budapest and Szeged in Hungary. The next stations were Sibiu and Bucharest in Romania, in Bulgaria I stayed in Sofia, Burgas and Plovdiv. After a stay in Istanbul I went to Goreme and from there to the Black Sea coast of Turkey, so I came to Tbilisi in Georgia via Samsun and Trabzon. The last stop for the time being was Yerevan in Armenia.
During the artist residency I went to Nagorno-Karabakh and there also to the war-ravaged city of Agdam, which at the time was in a buffer zone between the conflicting parties.

The return journey first took me via Georgia and Turkey to Thessaloniki and Athens in Greece. It continued via Skopje and Kumanovo in North Macedonia to Belgrade and Pancevo, Serbia. Next I traveled to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and from there via Zagreb to Knin, Croatia. I stopped in Ljubljana, Slovenia and continued on to Venice and Turin in Italy before returning to Germany via Zurich, Switzerland.

During this trip I gave 17 concerts, mostly free improvisations with a wide variety of musicians from jazz, dancefloor, improvisation and sound art.

During my stay in Yerevan, soundlines was created, an 8-channel installation from the interviews and field recordings conducted up to that point. In addition, there were several co-productions and collaborations with both Armenian artists and other foreign artists in the residency.

The piece forgotten was created from the recordings in Agdam.

Prologue

Prague / Brno

Bratislava

Budapest / Szeged

Sibiu / Bukarest

Sofia / Burgas / Plovdiv

Istanbul / Göreme / Samsun / Trabzon

Tblissi

Yerevan

Stepanakert / Shushi

Agdam

Türkei / Istanbul

Saloniki / Athens

Kumanovo / Skopje

Belgrade / Pancevo

Sarajevo

In the course of the “Actopolis” project of the Goethe Institute with Urbane Künste Ruhr, I created the collage for “Sarajevo Album” by Armina Pilav. With the following accompanying text:

sarajevo – no news

In spring 2012 I arrived for the first time in Sarajevo. I came overland from a travel that had taken me to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and I travelled now on the route from Greece to Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
It had been my first time to what we call the Balkans. And before I only knew them few and a bit foggy out of the stories my parents told of their „Yugoslavia holidays“ in the early 60s and then for sure out of the news during the war.
Now I arrived, everything has been real, no news.
I felt kind of a cultural shock between on the one hand the tourism in the old town and how it seemed to be built as any touristic place anywhere in the world, packed with souveniers, bars, cafes and sights and on the other hand the walls of so many houses which still had the bullet holes.
After a couple of days in the valley Sarajevo is in, I walked up the hills to see how it must have looked like for the people shooting on it.
I felt trapped in the close past of the city.
On my last evening I met two people from Sarajevo to deliver them some comics I had brought from Pancevo. We met on the most famous bridge of the town and afterwards they took me for a tour through the clubs. I finally met the Sarajevo of that moment, vibrant, sophisticated and alive.

One year later I had the opportunity to come back to give a workshop on listening and have a performance in town. On this occasion I heard of the project of the „Invisible border“ and was grateful to be taken on a tour following a part of it. I recorded the environment. The recording doesn’t tell about any border. As few as has been visible.
Still Sarajevo is in Germany only in the focus when something happens what we like to call a crisis. All what I happened to experience is „no news“.

Zagreb / Knin

Ljubljana

Venice / Torino

Zurich

Epilogue