Gelitin’s travel to Sofia, an interview with ourselves

  • Publish On 11 January 2017
  • Collectif Gelitin

“If you look at a map, there are about 700 km between Vienna, Austria and Sofia, Bulgaria. Making this trip on small mopeds may seem completely silly. But what a beauty to travel at the speed of a butterfly! Go East! ”

Gelitin is a group of four artists living in Vienna and New York.

Some facts to introduce the ironic interview of Gelitin with themselves and the photo-reportage they realized during their mopeds journey between Vienna and Sofia. Season : spring 2004. Kilometers : 1020. Documents : 133 photographs, 13 of which have been crushed dead animals and 3 alive, 66 of themselves, 14 of landscapes. Crossed countries : Austria, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria. Artists : Ali Janka, Wolfgang Gantner, Tobias Urban and Florian Reither. Or how a group of four artists who met in 1978 during a holiday camp and have since enjoyed themselves – it is important – and work together, known for their often denuded actions and their “subversive” exhibitions – transforming the Austrian Pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale in a swamp and installing a gigantic pink rabbit as an ironic tribute to Land Art – how this group reinterprets the travel form to replay its codes and defeat expectations. Often presented as the “Bad Good Boys” of contemporary art, Gelitin is exemplary of a Dada and anarchic thought liberated from ideologies and directed towards excess, pleasure and gratuity. On board of their customized mopeds, their artistic proposal is finally rewarding because it is a priori disappointing and deceptive.

(This interview was published for the first time in the exhibition catalog “Gelatin”, Sofia, Revolver, archiv für aktuelle Kunst, Franckfort, 2005, pp. 9-11, on the occasion of an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Sofia, organized after the trip made by the Viennese group to Sofia.)

Gelitin interview with themselves

Gelitin : How did you come up with the idea to travel to Sofia ?

Gelitin : We feel, that is an urgent thing to do.

Gelitin : Why are you choosing mopeds and not other ways of traveling ?

Gelitin : There are a lot of good reasons to use mopeds : the reduced speed, the open air feeling, the incredible noise of the moped, that puts you into a stage of trance. You don’t have to talk all day to the others, but at the end of the day you can talk about what everyone saw, and it is really different things what everyone sees.

Gelitin : What do you see on the road ?

Gelitin : The images and patterns of asphalt are amazing. It’s not so different in all the countries we crossed so far. It’s not grey or black at all but has all these dots and spots, and the speed of the moped make them wipe if you focus too long on the road. It’s like the very moment before falling asleep and starting to dream.

Gelitin : What about getting lost ?

Gelitin : That’s basically the fun about travelling, but we are very well equipped having Tobias with us. He was born in Germany and his temporal lobes are similar in size to those of australian aborigines. He can navigate with the tip of his tongue even while eating honey with chili.

© Gelitin

Gelitin : Are the seats of the bikes hard ? Does your ass hurt ?

Gelitin : It’s about attitude and the use of pillows. The more pillows you use the more your ass was hurting before.

Gelitin : Is it easier to go to the east or to the west ?

Gelitin : You go west to express yourself and you go east to impress or explore yourself. It is not about easy or difficult it is a totaly different subject. I believe that eastern europe is a truly romantic place and it is a good place to float around and have an emotional love affair with.

Gelitin : What kind of image do you think you are transmitting, while you cross eastern europe ?

Gelitin : Respect and hope. Like after watching a very good movie. You have this happy feeling that there are people out there who do a good job, that’s a very relieving moment.

Gelitin : Crossing national borders is a complicated thing sometimes. How are your experiences with border crossings, national borders and borders in general ?

Gelitin : Approaching border is a good introduction of what expects you after crossing them.

Gelitin : Sure we have the right passports making it smooth and easy to step in, but the vehicles and our styling gets us a little more attention. So in the end we have to assist ourselves to make this border crossing really happen. And there is no difference between any borders at all. A true borderline experience was crossing the border into Romania and the first two days of traveling there, surprisingly beatiful and hardcore mysterious in every little detail.

Gelitin : And the people you are meeting on the journey ?

Gelitin : Millions of different people with million of different desires. A lot of happy people who like to be what they are.

Beautiful, fantastic musicians in bars ans discos, sweet old ladies, who sing and dance in the afternoon, dirty loud highly educated children, who speak english with us, sherpherds who sleep all day and become 120 years old.

Nervous young men who want to be italian, beautiful girls who would ignore us, because of our lousy mopeds.

© Gelitin

Gelitin : When you travel at low speed, you can see a lot of snails, bugs, insects, frogs… crossing the street. What are your feelings towards these creatures ?

Gelitin : It’s like racing with them, a permanent competition, flying insects become your competitors in speed. The slower crowd on the street are our slalom poles. Left, right, left… Trying to never hit one.

Gelitin : Which songs come to your mind while you ride in the rain . Which ones in the sunshine ?

Gelitin : When its raining its peggy lee’s fever. Sunshine brings iron butterflies in a gadda da vida.

Gelitin : Where are the bikes now ?

Gelitin : Sitting in Vienna gazing the meadow in our studio’s backyard garden.

Gelitin : Are you using the bikes in Vienna ?

Gelitin : We use them now and then, not only in vienna. It’s so good to have them. Now we can take a ride wherever we are going anywhere, slow or fast, river deep, mountains high.

Gelitin : Most beautiful moment on the journey ?

Gelitin: Every time one of the mopeds brakes down it is just horrible. The moment when it works out and it is possible to fix it once again and then you kick-start and it runs and you test-ride. This is the most beautiful moment of a moped-rider.

© Gelitin

Gelitin : What’s so good about traveling in general and where to go after all ?

Gelitin : Traveling with no timetable and no plan and dates and just a basic general idea of getting somehow to Sofia or naked or Mexico or nothing or Kongo or whatever is pure pleasur. Most important is the not calculated character of a trip. As long as you do not have a plan, nothing can stop you. After all, we just go on.

Gelitin : Do you see yourself as the four riders of the Apocalypse ?

Gelitin : We are bikers. And a biker is a biker is a biker. We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.

Gelitin : What is the show in Sofia’s ICA about ?

Gelitin : About how impossibility degenerated it is to be a professional artist and how self-degrading this profession can be, and how beautiful it is to make art.

Gelitin : How do you make a living as artists based in Vienna

Gelitin : We sing and dance naked in bars and cafes. We pretend being blind and beg for money in the street.

Gelitin : How would you describe the difference between Sofia end New York, between Belgrade and Paris ?

Gelitin : What makes a city are interested, sensible, aware, positive and energetic people. You can find a city everywhere.

Gelitin : What souvenirs did you bring home ?

Gelitin : Nasser KlumpatschNasser Klumpatsch can be translated as “wet junk”. During their trip, Gelitin gathered the detritus found on their way into one of the wagons attached to the mopeds.




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