We pack our bits and pieces on the bikes and are going on a long trip through Canada.
Bike Nomads, always on the move. We are leaving our Homeland, the burden of things behind us. A camera and a notebook in the bag, free and footloose.
We meet people on the way, by accident, spontaneously. In places where they live, work, places they call Homeland. We want to hear their stories, why they stayed there, came back, or why they want to leave. What binds them with the place.
The encounters are short and intensive. We ride on, we are here today, tomorrow already there. Each encounter is a moment in time, a snapshot.
We will forge a book out of those snapshots, no travelogue, in fact an album. A collection of moments, short insights into life, stories about Homeland.
Some time ago we became bike-fascinated and have had a taste for long bike trips. Our first long tour went along the Danube river, from its spring to the Black Sea. The second one, by the shores of the Baltic Sea took us through the baltic states. Now we want to know for real how far can the wheels carry us, and how it is to fly with one-way-ticket in order to start an open-end trip.
We ride on the Trans Canada Trail across the land. From the east coast over Montreal and Toronto to Vancouver. The next winter awaits us there and we will decide if and how it goes further…
What fascinates us in traveling by bike is the autonomy and moving on relying solely upon our own muscles. And that the journey is the reward. A bike is perfect: we are always right in the middle, experience everything directly, in all weather, the landscape, places or the people and their stories about everyday life.
Encounters on the Way
The encounters during our bike trips are mostly accidental, often very short and intensive. As one does not just fly from city to city but covers every single kilometer with the power of ones own muscles, it is very likely to arrive at places where nobody would normally be willing to go. Where no other travellers are, only the settled. We find ourselves in situations which are made of surprises, curious meetings and fortunate coincidences. When we meet somebody, most likely that person is in the middle of the regular daily routine. We experienced often, after having met a person on the street and a conversation, that all of a sudden we got a place to stay overnight.
People we meet are eager to tell us about their lives. Perhaps because we are strangers and have not yet heard their stories. Maybe because we will be gone in the next morning anyway. Or they see their own dreams about other places in us. They tell us why they are here, where we met them, why they have come here, why they have not left. They tell us about their homeland, family, their past. Their stories are subjective, individual perspective from that place on Earth on which we are standing. A moment in time, a snapshot. We are gone on the next day, they stay.
However, we carry the reminiscences of them and their words with us. Like a Polaroid photo, a citation. And nothing tells us about that place, than those short encounters. No tourist guide, no history book. For a couple of hours, a day, we immerse into a different life. It is too short to mingle, we are simply visitors, observers. For us these are the typical concurrences of a bike trip. A unique art of encounter, which one does not experience otherwise.
During this trip we want to document those meetings, not only as memories in our hearts but in a physical form of stories and photos.
Who are we going to meet, this we leave to chance, as usual. But this time we do not want to let the moment of telling and listening pass by just like that. Should we meet anybody on the way, we will offer cooking a simple meal. We will sit at the table and wait, what will be told. Maybe the person tells us what he or she is doing there, what kind of place it is. Or maybe they will not tell us antyhing. Maybe they will take us to the fields, a bar or for a walk.
We will not carry any history books with us, or dig through tourist guides and constantly google everything which is worth knowing about the land. No, we will be told stories. The personal stories which still tell so much about political, historical, cultural and social background.
We will be collecting the snapshots in this manner on the way, from any people, at any places. We will be collecting their words, their pictures. Their truths. And this we want to relay. It should not be a travelogue, we are not intersted in that. It is a mosaic of various perspectives and voices, put together into a saturated narration about people and places. What kind of image comes out of that, we do not know.
For the project we will use our capabilities. Piotr, architect and photographer makes portraits, landscapes, snapshots, as the case may be. Natalie, cultural scientist, who is into writing, collects the stories, makes notes, observes. The observed and heard will be processed into concise portraits, which we will introduce in a book.
Why a book? As we want to tell a lot of short stories and depict the meetings with people with portraits, the book is the best medium to achieve that. Just like in an album, it shows the collection of the snapshots. It can be read through, from the beginning, from the end or simply flipped through in a random order.
It is important to us to issue a well processed and nicely designed book - it should include the esthetics of the moments we experienced on the way and make them perceptible. It should be a physical object, not only a digital slideshow. It should be something that stays and is capable of carrying the signs of time. In addition it is a well-tried medium of passing stories, a medium of memory. It can be a gift, or a legacy.
Wherefore the Financing?
Our project is for now focused on collecting the stories during our journey and on the preparation of the book. We need the financing for the work on our research, in order to digitalize texts, choose and work on the photos in a room with internet connection from time to time. In addition there will be costs of communication and internet, possibly camera material (battery, repairs) or a computer. At the end of the trip it will be necessary to have a longer stage needed for the layout and detailed concept of our book, and also for finding the publisher.