TRACES – Water doesn’t know borders
A journey in a canoe along the Danube to the Black Sea by Johannes Vogl
When I received the invitation to Sinopale 7, one thought was to make the distance between my home country, Germany, and the northernmost point of Turkey in Sinop tangible. And I realized: There was a natural, direct connection between both places: The water. The Danube rises in Germany and flows into the Black Sea after running for 2200 kilometers. The water that rises not far from my birthplace spills onto the coast of Sinop a few months later.
Europe and the world are disintegrating in our time. Countries are closing themselves off, building walls and fences. The project I developed for Sinopale tried to set an example for initiating exchange across borders along one of the oldest waterways in the world using art as an excuse.
The project consisted of a journey from the heart of Europe along the Danube to the Black Sea. The trip went through ten countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine and Romania. I started my trip in May 2019 from Germany with a canoe in the Danube and after three months and 2200 kilometers I arrived on the coast of the Black Sea in Romania.
The canoe had two seats. This allowed an additional person to get on from time to time and join me for some part of the journey. In total, there were ten people traveling with me. Mostly friends, but also chance acquaintances whom I met on the way.
Already in the first days, I was not sure if I would be physically able to make the trip. I had never been in a canoe before. Rowing seven hours every day and not knowing where to sleep in the evening… But this feeling subsided after a while. And a feeling of freedom set in. The feeling of being one with the water…
Getting to know people who live on the shore every day anew and exchanging ideas with them was a wonderful experience. The openness and hospitality of the people was overwhelming, whether it was a fisherman who gave you a fish for dinner or a group on a motorboat who invited you to spend the night in their home.
To this day, this experience has left its mark on me and I am still in contact with many people I met on this trip, for whom I am infinitely grateful.
Now the question arises. Can a journey be art? I think: Yes!
Because this journey has changed me, and I hope it also changed other people.
And that is what art needs.
Together with the team of Sinopale 8 we have developed an interactive map on which you can visit different stations of the journey to get an impression of this incredible experience. You can also visit https://www.instagram.com/johannes.vogl/ to see the images I shared through the journey.
Links to the artist:
The project was funded by Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
This project will look at Sinopale as a site of relational encounters through each edition of the biennial and explore what kind of previously non-existing or invisible links between Sinop and other places occurred through the artworks produced and exhibited in Sinop. By being situated in a specific place, a biennial raises the question of what it means for artists, artworks, and audiences to be at that specific place at that specific time, when it is no longer possible to think of places and times as disparate entities in a global world.