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September 01, 2003
riiiight.... here,

Even though I barely remember any of the little details that were so new to me and so strong when we escaped from Poland in 1981, I will never forget that one map. It was the map of Austria. We had crossed the border from Czechoslovakia and were on our way to Rome. We stopped at the very first highway gas station, just to look at what the West actually looked like. I mean there were all these legends about the incredible mountains of actually colorful products. The eleven year old me wanted to definitely find out if there were indeed as many Matchbox cars as hinted by the numbers on their little boxes. We looked at the map of Austria. It was all in German, all pretty colorful and all roads seemed to lead to this very interesting white blob. It was a hole in the map actually, rubbed through the paper by thousands of fingers that somehow wanted to touch their immediate future. The blob was called WIEN, Vienna and we were also heading towards it, though it was not our final destination, just a centre of gravity that was about to propel us onto our actual orbit... (which was not Rome.)
Whenever I see a map with a rubbed out place, and there is a lot of them around New York, especially on the subways, I have to think of Vienna.
Vienna, the place that looked to me like the largest pile of broken washing machines and burned out cars. It was a narrow road between two landcapes of 1981 style recycling... I guess we never actually drove into the city.
The outskirts of Vienna actually looked a little bit like that hole in the Autobahn map...
And why am I thinking of this little fragment right now? Is it because of the shiny greasy spot on the spacebar of my PowerBook?... maybe it is because of those three "Get Mail" envelopes, which might be the most often clicked little icon in any application on my mac. It is a bit like going to Vienna, except that it is the other way around, it is as if random voices were summoned onto my screen from so many various corners of the world...
The odd thing is that whenever I hit that little button with the pointer of the mouse... it does not rub off a bit, no pixels go missing, there is no hole in it... nothing.
I once got really upset at Jeffrey Shaw when he was giving a lecture about his then quite ground breaking virtual reality art installations.
I was maybe 20 or so and I got up in one of his lectures and burst out that his work was not really worth anything, because it did not allow the user to leave any marks, to leave anything behind, to comment to scratch in anything. He looked at me (and not only he looked at me) and did not understand how I could be so pumped with adrenaline about such a silly, unimportant thing...
Nobody leaves his marks on the Mona Lisa... those scratched marks on historic landmarks are a rather disturbing side effect of human interaction with art...
And yet, if there were no fingers pointing at Vienna, ever... if there were no eyes wanting to stare at the Mona Lisa (or, 1911, that space), if there were no massive amounts of humans streaming towards the places others make or build...
Would it make sense to make any of these at all?...



Posted by: 100luz on September 2, 2003 03:58 AM

Hey. :) I'm Polish too, and my family made a very similar "journey" when I was about 6 (but about 6 years after your family).

I was too young to understand what was going on and I don't remember too much about it. When you think back on it, do you remember it as your family escaping, or do you see it more as an adventure/trip?

I'm just interested in this because, like I said, I didn't really know what was going on, and to me it was more like we were going on a trip. It was obviously a huge event in my childhood, and the way I interpreted it and structured it in my memory is probably completely different from what actually took place.

Would you mind sharing some more stories of the experience?

Posted by: Marta on September 3, 2003 12:59 AM

Hello Marta, but of course... : )
I hope to be able to tell the entire story... as it unfolded for me in 1981.... : )

Posted by: Witold Riedel on September 3, 2003 09:31 AM

more more more :)

Posted by: shauny on September 6, 2003 03:38 PM
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