We’re just back from a research trip for our new project ‘Oh Europa’. Next year we’re going to drive continuously for six months through Europe in an RV, making a piece as we go. So thanks to some funding from Arts Council England and support from Farnham Maltings (UK), Vooruit (BE), Matchbox (DE) and Cabanyal Intim (ES) we’ve just spent a month in a motorhome driving to parts of the UK, Belgium, Germany, France and Switzerland so we could develop the idea and also get used to working, creating and living on the road before we set off for real next year.
After our month away we think the project will be about somehow collecting and carrying sentiments of love, loss, hope, longing, union, heartbreak. A way to orient ourselves as a continent by building a library of voices and then somehow transmitting those voices from the edgelands, hinterlands and boundaries of Europe.
Our motorhome will become a kind of ‘All Terrain Vehicle’ to explore all the terrains of Europe – psychological, emotional and geological. We’ll travel to every country in Europe, to the most northerly, southerly, easterly and westerly points of the continent, explore its limits and its very edges. Destinations will be chosen for their (in)significance as boundaries, margins or thresholds of Europe both historic and present day. The literal edges of the continent such us Cabo Fisterra on the far Western coast of Spain and Cabo da Roca in Portugal but also the invisible boundaries, the geological thresholds and the cultural junctures that populate the continent. The rivers that divide cities, the forgotten borders, the remote outposts of vanished empires, the ancient walls, the ultra-modern dams, the bridges, the mountain ranges, the channels, straits and canals. It’s our hope that the voices of participants in the project might create an alternative atlas of Europe. A different kind of map that might let us see the space we share in a new light. That map will then become the blueprint for a performance. The fragments of sounds/sights/sites of Europe we discover on the way will feed into something we develop as we go, on the road, and present at host destinations on the way.
The sounds we carry with us to the edges might act as disruptive beacons – transmitting an opaque but heartfelt message. The transmission perhaps, as an interruption to the landscape that might re-configure or re-contextualise European identities. A dispatch from elsewhere, broadcast loud and clear from the borderlands/hinterlands/thresholds of Europe. Detached from political soundbites, diplomacy, or art speak the messages might speak about who we are and how we feel and might offer us an opportunity to re-orientate – to hear ourselves emerge out of the white noise.
Now the research period is over we’ll take some time to reflect and think on it and then we’ll plan with our partners in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Hungary and Spain for the real thing next year. We can’t wait!