George Bowling, the protagonist in George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air, looks back on his youth with a fetishized false reality, my interpretation is that this is partly due to the realistion that he succumbed to the western capitalist ideology that life has certain parameters and rules that one must abide by in order to compete (i.e career, house, family). This results in the majority of his existence being lost to repetition and mundanity, memories of his youth representing, to him, when he was free.
The trip to Budapest was taken entirely by train: Manchester – London, London – Brussels, Brussels – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – Munich, Munich – Budapest.
Personally the decision to travel by train provided an important time to reflect on the pace in which I conduct my life and the importance of slowing down as well and not being so reliant on comfortable/familiar modes and practices. Being out of my comfort zone for such an extended period provided space and time for discussion, development of ideas and presented a great opportunity for the delegates to establish relationships using the journey as a way to find out about each of our practices. All of which added to the trip being so personally beneficial, a reminder of steps that can be taken in order to not make the same mistake as George Bowling.
An audio piece inspired by these thoughts can be heard here.
During the delegation I made various field recordings which have been used to make a 20 minute audio piece, available to download and stream here.
Below is a short synopsis about the process and thinking behind the recording:
Budapest Audio Recording
The audio piece is a reflection on the unease discussed by many of the people we visited in regards to the current political situation led by Viktor Orban, reminiscent of my own feelings in the wake of Brexit. Feelings of distress at the growing divides among communities, due partly to the use of familiar rhetoric of the invasion from the “other” instilling fear and kindling the nationalist bile that runs close to the surface of much of society. Language that promotes the idea that borders should be the priority over support.
The field recordings were made while travelling around the city, walking in and out of buildings, using public transport, mundane everyday activities. Due to the privilege that many of us experience we can separate ourselves from the immediate impact of the decisions made by those in power and the pain and suffering it causes others.
The final audio piece was recorded live with sections of the field recording being recorded and rerecorded onto a series of five-second analogue tape loops, the loops being reminiscent of the idea that ideologies of nationalism and colonialist pride frequently re emerge in order to establish dominance or when power structures are under threat.
During the delegation we met numerous organisations and people, such as: OFFBIENNALE, Tranzit, and Aurora that are refusing these models pushed by the Government and are instead exploring alternative democratic methods of pluralism and inclusion.
“How does one hate a country, or love one? Tibe talks about it; I lack the trick of it. I know people, I know towns, farms, hills and rivers and rocks, I know how the sun at sunset in autumn falls on the side of a certain plowland in the hills; but what is the sense of giving a boundary to all that, of giving it a name and ceasing to love where the name ceases to apply? What is love of one’s country; is it hate of one’s uncountry? Then it’s not a good thing. Is it simply self-love? That’s a good thing, but one mustn’t make a virtue of it, or a profession… Insofar as I love life, I love the hills of the Domain of Estre, but that sort of love does not have a boundary-line of hate. And beyond that, I am ignorant, I hope.”
Urusula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Bloom, Harold. 1987. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.