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The Travels

Updated: Apr 11




“As you start to walk out on the path, the path appears.”

Rumi


“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

St. Augustine


“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the Universe.”

Anatole France


“If we were meant to stay in one place, we’d have roots instead of feet”

Rachel Wolchin




The audio version of this blog post





Dear reader and follower of A Biosphere Project,


Over the past few years, following my decision to stop painting, I have devoted myself to research, to creating my website, to writing, and to starting this blog. I was not really familiar with any of these things before, having spent most of my life in a painting studio. This journey into new media will continue, and I also plan other ‘channels’ in the future. But I will also now pick up the idea that started it all: the project of the Travels.


The concept is still evolving, and the final form will emerge as I process more information and get advice from people in the field and experts.


For now, the idea is that over the next decade (or decades) I will make four long journeys, one to each wind direction in Europe. During these journeys I will try to bring into focus what is left of beauty and wonderful biotopes in our part of the world, but also what is already threatened or changing because of the biosphere crisis. I will try to show what has already been damaged or lost, and also what we are in danger of losing. I want to make clear the extent to which biodiversity in Europe has already suffered badly from human presence, and how we can help restore it. I want to portray the processes that have led to the living being that is our biosphere being in such a bad state, but also the processes that can lead again to harmony and synergy between that part of us that is inside our skin (and what we usually call ‘human’) and that part of us that is outside our skin (and what we usually call ‘nature’).

I want to show nature, but also cities: cities will play a central role in the transitions to come, and will have to go through a very far-reaching transformation. I want to show 'wild' nature (to the extent that that still exists in Europe), but also the large portion of that natural environment that is now used for agriculture - how we will deal with agriculture in the future will determine whether and how we will live in synergy with nature, and now this is by no means the case. Agriculture is now the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions as well as the biggest driver of biodiversity loss. Agriculture in our contemporary industrial society is also usually as far or further away from what we call ‘nature’ than the urban environment. What’s more, many cities now harbor greater biodiversity than many agricultural areas, and our ill-considered and all-destroying use of plows, pesticides and fertilizers has everything to do with that. And it is by no means necessary that we practice agriculture in this destructive way: we can feed more people with a very different kind of agriculture. A form of agriculture that can help restore biodiversity and also make a huge contribution to balancing the carbon cycle in our biosphere by absorbing more CO2 from the air than reforestation projects could in the near future. So agriculture will be a major focus of the travel project.

I want to show places, but also people: those who are already victims of a changing climate, but also those who are already building a new way and a new vision of the future, a new world. Those who are pioneers in the aforementioned new forms of agriculture, community, economy. Those who are working to preserve our biotope and shared body, and those who are thinking about very far-reaching changes in our worldview.


But the protagonist in the whole project will be the world, remembering Wallace Stevens' quote, "The most beautiful thing in the world, of course, is: the world itself."

I have been a painter as well as a photographer most of my life, , and I will use the medium of photography in addition to the word to portray our part of the world (Europe) from the perspective I have just described.


Alpine peaks in Trentino, northern Italy.



Why travel?

Simple: because I love doing so. I have been an underground nomad for most of my life, and I feel very good when I am on the road without knowing where I will arrive. At several key moments in my life, I have traveled, alone and without a firmly planned itinerary. And each of those journeys has changed my life and opened doors that otherwise would surely have remained closed. Travel is a magical thing and it can allow us to pass through portals into another dimension of being, understanding and experiencing.

The option of becoming a full-time writer who would spend his life in a room, glued to a desk and to a computer, does not attract me. And that way my horizon would remain too limited for what I want to put out into the world: a vivid and dynamic picture of where we are and where we can evolve to, if we make the right choices.

So I want to go out into the world, visit people, experience places, and bring these experiences as vividly as possible to you, readers and followers of A Biosphere Project. So that you can get energy and inspiration from that. That is my wish, that I can help spread a little of the energy of our beautiful world and bring it to your hearts.


Why photograph?

Simple: because I love doing so. And as the old saying goes, "A picture says more than a thousand words”. For a lifetime I have been photographing, in addition to my work as a painter and illustrator. Since I got my first simple camera when I turned 12, I have always photographed, and have always found it to be a very powerful means of communication.

Painting and visual art in general can go deeper than photography, I feel. But photography can stir more hearts and minds faster, and can have a greater impact on our collective consciousness in the shorter term than visual art. Art is like a slow, deep undercurrent that can have a bigger and more lasting impact in the longer term than photography. But for now, we need a medium that in the shorter term can have a greater impact on the transformational process we are about to go through. Because we don't have that much time.


Walnut tree, Somogy province, Hungary



Why Europe?

It is the most closeby, and because it is so familiar it is also unfamiliar.

What seems most familiar can, on closer inspection, harbor the greatest surprises, precisely because it seems familiar and perhaps even 'ordinary'. And because it is still ‘close to home’, this unexpected unfamiliarity can also have a greater impact than far-away regions that might seem more exotic or produce more spectacular images.

Taking the whole world as my subject at this time would not only be far too overwhelming, it would also require far more energy (in the literal sense: energy from fuels or batteries) to travel so far away, farther than is possible by land.

Travel is an activity that requires energy and inevitably involves some degree of pollution.

Some therefore call for us to stop travel, in light of the climate crisis. I beg to differ. I think we should continue to travel. Travel is a form of energy investment that can have many positive consequences and ‘returns’ for humanity, unlike many other activities that require much more energy and have much less positive consequences (like eating meat or fish, or buying a lot of clothes). In my opinion, the development of our global and individual consciousness requires that we all travel, and maybe even more than before. But then we should travel in a different way than we do now in many cases, and with a different attitude. But more about that another time.

So I think it is certainly not only responsible that we keep travelling, but even desirable.



And why the long journeys?

That is the most energy efficient. If I were to travel up and down to multiple destinations in one direction every time, it would require much more energy. One round in each wind direction also has a kind of poetic simplicity, and also forces me to think carefully about what I want to show and where I want to go. It can give a kind of clearly delineated form to a travel project, which can then find a reflection in a book, in which both photography and words will find a place. One journey in any wind direction is also a reminder that there is a mythical dimension that can make travel into something magical, and that this magic is related to ancient energies and ancient experiences of man stored deep in our bones, such as navigating by the stars, reading mosses, plants and trees, finding a path by following animals, and so on. Man is originally a nomad, and some 97 percent of the time we exist as a species now, we have spent wandering. Therefore, that experience is stored deeply in our blood and in our genes. Possibly that is why I believe that travel can and should remain an important activity for humanity, even and perhaps especially in times of biosphere crisis. Not that we will still be doing it by means of stars, moss, or paths made by deer. I for one have a GPS and I will certainly use it, too. But the primeval and mythical energy of travel is available to us no matter what technology we use. And the magical process of travel can still open those portals for us, those portals that can lead to a different way of perceiving and being conscious.


A long journey can also bring about the kind of transformation of feeling and idea and energy beyond what is possible on a shorter trip. Being away from familiar surroundings for a long time can also lead to a kind of breaking away from the habitual identities that people project onto each other in our day-to-day role-playing, or the identities by which we limit ourselves in our perception and experience, during our professional pursuits or our roles as parents, partners or family members.

And A Biosphere Project is conceived as a nomadic life project, a search in the spatial dimensions of our world as well as in the world of our consciousness. And the two can run in parallel, reinforcing each other.


Flower in wheat field, Southern Germany





These long journeys will be reported on in the blog, in video reports, in exhibitions and in a book.


In addition to these longer travels, there may be shorter trips as preparation, to visit a particular place or to meet someone for an interview. The shorter trips may take place in different 'wind-directions’, and I will also trust intuition and synchronicity to let emerge what wants to happen.


Therefore, the whole project, which I feel will take more than a decade, will require a lot of preparation and research. In the coming months, I want to start gathering information about possible destinations for the first journey. So the first wind direction will be North, but within that, of course, there are an enormous number of possible destinations. The journey would go through The Netherlands, northern Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland.

Great Britain, Scotland and Ireland could also be a logical part of this first trip, but that might be too much. Possibly I will include those countries on the journey to the West.

The first long journey is planned for 2025, depending on what means of transportation I will use and how the preparations go. The duration of the first journey will also depend on how the research develops and what goals and destinations present themselves.

I am starting a process now to seek advice from experts and people familiar with the issues in the widest sense. I want to learn more about all the countries I want to cross, from the perspective I outlined above. I want to learn about people that are already making a difference: researchers, scientists, activists. Pioneers in regenerative agriculture, artists and authors, thinkers and doers. People trying to develop new models on all those domains of human society that affect the well-being of our shared body, the biosphere. And those are pretty all domains of human existence, as I described in the essay ‘Let us not talk about the climate crisis any longer (Part 2)’.

The intention on each 'Grand Tour' is most of all to highlight a wide variety of perspectives and angles in words and images.


The 'how' of the tours will also be a subject of research and exploration. Obviously, I want to travel in a way that pollutes as little as possible. To that end, I am looking at various possibilities. Now any form of travel does involve consumption of energy and some degree of pollution, unless you go on foot. And even though I am convinced that travel is an investment of energy that can still bring much good to humanity in return, it goes without saying that I have to think that matter through, and consider all the consequences of my choices.


The blog of A Biosphere Project will periodically bring you further posts on the progress of the research and preparations, and any encounters that may come out of it.

And here is also my appeal to you, my readership. You may also have good ideas or tips about possible destinations or topics during the trips (in any wind direction, you don't have to limit yourself to 'North'). Don't hesitate if you wish to share such ideas or tips with me via the form at the bottom of each webpage, or via a reply to this mail. Your cooperation and input is greatly appreciated!


Thanks for reading and for following A Biosphere Project,

Until the next episode,


All the best to you!

Filip


Lake on Kvaløya island, northern Norway



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