the tourist is me,
leafing through life like a Lonely Planet,
leaving bookmarks, seeing things through lenses,
waiting for the final destination
Tourist, person travelling through their homeland or foreign countries for entertainment purposes; person temporarily residing abroad in a non-professional capacity. (Store Norske Leksikon)
I travel through my drawings. Parallel to the subjective journey, the subjects include what we use for personal marketing to establish identity. Classic items such as sweaters, socks, hats, purses and plastic bags. All of them residue from previous journeys, they came home with me.
I travel regularly between South and North. Within one hour and fifty minutes I travel the same distance as going from Oslo to the Southern part of the Continent. On arrival, I always have a jet lag. I often write on these trips. The trips encourage observation. Views of other travellers. In airports, on buses, planes and boats. Toilets. Benches. Restaurants. Something happens to people when they relocate, when they travel together or hide themselves behind digital units or drinks. You can be a tourist in your own life. Turn travel into a membrane between yourself and something completely different, just like we use digital platforms to protect and stage our own everyday lives. Tourism also has an element of naivety and greed, the traveller’s willingness to transcend CO2 footprints and aloofness. The ennui of forced interactions with people who have nothing more to say. The exhaustion from chasing something intangible, something that doesn’t match the happiness in the adverts.
In July 2018 I was artist in residence at Kunstkvarteret Lofoten, Norway. The project was planned way ahead. Even so, it became a work in progress. It took shape as I realized how I had to travel to get to where I wanted. Which areas I had to move through, and with which means of transportation. I had become a tourist.
Travels with Hurtigruten and by plane, road trips and tourism in campers on narrow roads. In the absence of expensive and showy cameras I chose a common option among female tourists, taking pictures and making videos with my cellphone without staging events. Apparently random, but still descriptive. By watching the images at accelerated speed, the individual experience disappears and the subjective story becomes marginal. The resulting experience turns the viewer into a tourist.
The images for the finished video were gathered on my computer. Then, quite suddenly, my mother died. I lost my last living parent and my best friend. In an attempt to move her photos to a hard drive for preservation, they mingled with my own pictures. Her tourist photos infiltrated mine with painful sincerity. The original material thus transformed, she takes part in the video post mortem. As a tourist.
During my residence in Lofoten I staged a performance at Valbergstranda. Words in water. People came from near and far, in cars and boats. I read poems from the book Aftershocks. Nature created the perfect backdrop. I was standing in the water wearing wellingtons and a woollen sweater. As I read, I threw the sheets of paper behind me into the sea. At high tide the sea brought the words back to shore. Before the performance I read the Roman poet Catullus (approx. 84–54 BC). I came across his poems by accident. The straightforward language. The willingness to show pain, contempt and love. He discusses sex. His poems inspired me to keep writing.
Planes, cars and boats (and a loss), dur 39m 28s, loop, 2019. Partial soundtrack.
Edited by Matilda Höög.
Teller Teslaer / Counting Teslas, 29 poems, 2019. English translations by Svein Svarverud.
Six drawings, coloured pencils on black paper, 2018–19.
Wooden shelf and wall. Reindeerskin. Ipad, tripod.
The exhibition was sponsored by the Arts Council Norway.
Photos by Arash Nejad