Big journey with the artist’s books through Europe
Time of the travel: 4-15 May 2004
Purpose: Frankfurt Art Fair, Germany
Travel route 5530 km with Toyota Previa: Vilnius – Berlin – Frankfurt am Main – Murg (Switzerland) – mountains – Bad Ragaz – Vaduz – Ulm – Wurzburg – Frankfurt am Main – Luxembourg – Lille – Gent – Antwerpen – Braunschweig – Vilnius.
To illustrate the big journey with artist’s books to Frankfurt am Main and to Lille (France), where had to be the next exhibition, I use my diary, made during the journey.
The “3rd International Artist‘s Book Triennial Vilnius 2003” in May 2004 had to be presented in the “Frankfurt Art Fair” in Germany. In October Artist’s Book Triennial had to be exhibited in Lille, France. The “3rd International Artist‘s Book Triennial Vilnius 2003” was a part of the project “Lille – European Capital of Culture 2004”.
The cheapest way to transport one cubic meter of artist’s books to Frankfurt am Main was to drive personal car. As I was going with big car I invited to go with me my father. He was 75 years old – the time for the first journey to West Europe… He love to travel, but during the soviet time it was possible to travel only in the East Europe, so here it was good opportunity to see many countries and to drive for him on Autobahn (highway) in Germany, where no speed limit… Don’t look on my old car, on this time for me it was like Boeing: big space, big speed and a lot of petrol.
We started our crazy journey at 4 a.m. We had to drive 1100 km by simple road to Neubrandenburg in North of Germany, where I had to take out my personal printmaking exhibition from the gallery. We don’t had navigation system we used paper maps. On this time it was no highway in Poland and you had to drive through all villages, as the “main road” always go though the village. If we wanted to drive in one day such distance it was normally to drive in villages and towns in speed 90-100 km/h. On this time it was no police on the road in Poland, or you could pay a little if you had the problems with them. We come to the gallery in about 9 p.m.
At 8.30 a.m. we started our journey to Berlin. In Berlin was wonderful exhibition “Das MoMA in Berlin” in Neue Nationalgalerie. People for visiting this wonderful exhibition from USA were waiting all night near the Gallery! And that in Berlin where a lot of great museums and 1000 galleries! But we had no time to wait even one hour, so we went to security, said that we are from Lithuania, showed our hand made “special cards”… and we are in the Exhibition. Wonderful Exhibition, really great. After we drank coffee in front of the Neue Nationalgalerie (it was very important for my father to feel as a free man in a free country, even a cup of coffee costed one day salary in Lithuania…), and drove our car to Frankfurt am Main. This day we did “only” 759 km.
In the morning we installed the “3rd International Artist‘s Book Triennial Vilnius 2003” in Frankfurt Art Fair, in the exhibition space of the Gallery IAKH. We had big and good space – something like big glass cube, where we exhibited all artist’s books. On this time the Frankfurt Art Fair was the main Art Fair in Europe. It was always nice to participate here, to be in Fair, to meet artists and people from the galleries, to see a lot of good and commercial art, to see what is “going on” this year, and to compare what was for sale last year.
As we didn’t had to stay in the Frankfurt Art Fair near our Exhibition, we decided “a little” to travel till the Fair will be closed and we will have to take all artist’s books with us. Through some small beautiful towns we took direction to Switzerland. We arrived in camping “Murg” near mountains and river. Wonderful view – flower field and mountains shining in snow. Here, near river we were sleeping in our car. It was cold at night, but for better lodging we had no money.
We have been near mountains. So I was looking on the map, how would be possible to drive to the snow, as high as possible to the mountains. We took one very small road through the forest and stopped only when the road was closed by snow and we can’t drive higher.
We left our car and went through the snow. But it was not very good idea as we were dressed in summer shoes. Soon they become total wet, because it was about 40 cm of snow… After one hour walking in snow in the mountains, we have found the hunter’s hut. It was opened, what is normal in mountains. Here we have made the fire and started to dry our clothes and shoes. In the house we found a little brandy, what was very good in our situation. So, we were sitting strapped with found blanket in front of fireplace, drinking brandy and eating our sandwiches… It was wonderful! It was feeling like I am in the move of National Geography, lost in the mountains.
From the mountains we drove to Bad Ragaz and after to the camping in small village Maienfeld. Night in the car was extremely cold, even we parked our car near the river, more beautiful view through the windows…
In the morning – hot tea and breakfast in the car. The clouds were very low, almost reaching the roofs of the house. After short walk in a mountains flume, we drove to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein. Here we visited exhibition “Dialog mit der Sammlung” in the Museum. Near was a beautiful small wooden town Buchs / Werdenberg. It was the time to take direction to Frankfurt. Through Bregenz we moved to Germany and near Memmingen in the petrol station we were sleeping again in our car. Not very comfortable, but it was warm.
From the Autobahn no 7 we have seen the big tower – it was the Cathedral of Ulm. This magnificent work of engineering and architecture holds the world’s tallest church spire at a height of 161 m. We had to see it and we turned our “Boeing” to Ulm.
Beautiful Cathedral. “Work began on this cathedral in 1377, and was carried on in intervals until 1545. It took another 300 years to get finished, when work began once again in 1844 and the cathedral was finally completed in 1890.” It was Sunday, the last day of Frankfurt Art Fair, so we drove to Frankfurt, to see the art and to reinstall our exhibition.