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En Route to Tbilisi #1 - Akademie - Kunsthalle Zürich

En Route to Tbilisi #1

The countdown to our Tbilisi 16 festival/exhibition/workshop on September 1, 2, 3, 4 has begun. While we count the hours, our programs curator Julia Moritz counts kilometers, en route from Zurich to Tbilisi, over land and sea. See here, for an account of distances and differences, recommendations and reality checks, images and impressions.

En Route to Tbilisi #1: Zürich to Vienna

Leaving Zurich on a night train schedule and a low fare ticket at once confronts you with the first major challenge: the regional route eastwards out of country appears hacked into pieces by the complexity of departmentalized networks and partially privatized trains, and well okay, an odd hour. They call it Ostwind; I would agree. You may start feeling “Eastern”, loitering around small town stations at night. Here we go.

The 99% empty Intercity to St. Gallen starts swiftly, razor-blade punctual, surgically clean, speeding up towards the very first stop on this trip: Zürich-Kloten Airport. Yesterday, the first Tbilisi 16 participants – and the youngest, artist collective UP STATE – have gotten off this stop and departed to Georgia to start building a treehouse-inspired shed for our outdoor festival site. The train moves on, and will do so for another 144 hours.

Goodbye comfort zone.

Hello comfort zone.

A reliable way of measuring discomfort related to cultural difference related to geographical distance is looking at toilets. The smallest common denominator for the most basic human needs aboard any non-individually operated vehicle aka public transport; defining a first measurement of spatial distance – too far to hold it – and defining a first measurement of mental distance too: a telling abundance of aesthetic decisions (tree-whatever inspired), disguised as functional (more then less).

St. Gallen by night – closed. Your only option: ghost busting; interaction but internet – there's gotta be something! Hunt down a cab driver, mine is gigantic, dozing, a stranded whale, from Berlin. “Try Kränzlin, just a few meters down.” And really, you should. Sunday 02:15 am and it’s even busy! Treat your tired taste buds to a delicious Middle Eastern veggie platter, wash it down with a cup of strong, lose black tea (you too will to stay up), and enjoy ecstatic oriental music amidst a cozy eclectic decor. A first taste of hospitality that makes you feel everything but stranded.

Sunrise in St. Margarethen. A station worth visiting if you’re into architectural brutalism, a fine example. Migrolino opens at 06:00 am. Spend all remaining Münz for unnecessary supplies, always fun, which you’ll need, not to mind the place also supplying anthropological evidence for the inadequacy of Monday morning conversation. No one cares for about no one (except the right to be photographed for someone else’s personal memory, after you too just made your purchase video-graphed for someone else’s corporate archive. Now better be quick to hop on the Railjet in Riedenburg, first one goes 06:40 am – one more night survived, Vienna almost in sight!