The artist, long a private ethnographer and traveller, does not travel only for her own pleasure and experiences, as others do. This is not tourism, but searching for the clues and sources with which we experience life. Enlightenment can come from surprise. That which we cannot plan and which is not directly proportional to distance, nor to the amount of ideas, books or information we have learned, analysed and systematised.
We are modern, we have become used to using reason for planned management of the world, for increasing safety, comfort, efficiency and profit. The modernist project, which connected prosperity with complete mastery of one’s feelings and heart by reason, has long since failed.
Now we must take the world, and life, as it comes.

Monika Fryčová is taking twenty kilos of a traditional dish on her Icelandic Vespa—a small motorbike, travelling only on local roads. Dried salt cod conserves an energy source even in unfavourable conditions. It is naturally preserved, to be used anytime. The technology to do this, which is traditional and quite simple in its essence, has reached perfection. It is a specific local knowledge which is not necessary in any way to change, because it cannot be surpassed. Even if we were able with our modern objective knowledge of chemistry to find a way to get more out of the fish, we have no need to do so, with respect to a fine tradition.

The voyage begins in Seyðisfjörður and ends in Lisbon—in the meantime finding a series of stopping points in Denmark, Germany, Austria, and other, yet unknown places in which the project will be introduced in artistic environments and everyday life, according to the actual circumstances.
The artist has given herself a utilitarian task—to be a messenger—a provider who supplies rare goods and is the personal guarantor of their delivery in excellent quality, even when her reward will not be profit. The aim of this performance is not business—to be more exact, the event is the exact opposite of that. From a rational perspective, it is totally absurd—just so, in order to remove any a priori speculations.

The artist is a believer in the deep sense of things. What is the value of overcoming such a huge distance? She is risking too much for seemingly little gain. This is strong art because it has not become goods—a product commodified and traded; nevertheless the artist herself is taking such a product—goods, which were and are exported from Iceland all over the world, Portugal included. The artist is taking a gamble, investing her life force, creating preconditions for managing a situation. She is carrying an existential situation on board, opening a space for truth and honesty and perhaps is so very close to its expression in the true sense, even if its arrival is not guaranteed.
Movement on the road is here the essential factor, being inside the current which brings movement in life, playing out a web of interactions—a fantastic life. One which is being played out today, now, right at this very moment.

The artist has become an ethnographer: collecting notes and fragments of the world, ethnicities, life, lands. What price does personal witnessing of a traveller have in a time when we can be informed about places on a voyage in real time on social networks, or follow unknown terrain on on-line satellite maps? The artist has renounced these sophisticated media aids, the goal of which is efficiency and economy for living better, experiencing more. Modern economy and efficiency—which, even if being reassessed, still run the world—have no place in this project.

Experiences gleaned from the voyage will be recorded in an ongoing video road movie, followed by a book, in which we cannot expect that we will be given an easily understood description nor a traditional travel documentary.

We hear too often about financial crises, about speculation, about abstract accounting operations on the global financial markets which influence and change the conditions of life in all countries and regions. The places from whence Monika Fryčová is leaving, and where she is going, were affected by these crises. The question is also: what is local and what is global? What can one single person do? What is his/her importance? From what perspective should we judge?

The places which stand at the beginning and the end of this voyage have something in common: sailing, fishing, fish as an important and traditional source of nourishment. On the other hand they embody complete opposites: the cold north is aimed at reason, analysis, the future and planning. The hot south is run by intuition, emotion, the heart. Or are they?

It seems that the world in its core is connected by its natural nature, higher principles and laws which rule even complete opposites. Everything is in motion, in metamorphosis, in dynamic unity and interaction. How then to attach to this flux, if the factors which influence it are so many that we can barely analyse them in time? Perhaps we have other capabilities of gleaning knowledge…

The present day is a bit frustrating for travellers and adventurers: there are no more blank places on the map to discover. They seemingly do not exist because we can learn about what is out there through descriptions and information, watching video and film recordings, reading texts. However, we become travellers and discoverers in the moment that we begin to live our own lives.
A few famous travellers of Czech origin in the past perhaps contributed to the loss of those blank spaces on the map; on the other hand, they brought us reports on a world which has irrevocably disappeared, for it has been modernised, colonised, globalised, homogenised. While it is clear that the ideological basis of these processes has failed, the process continues by itself, even accelerating.

The question remains, where is the balance which will guarantee that unique local and cultural conditions in various parts of the globe will remain preserved in authenticity, at the same time not being in total isolation? Perhaps Monika Fryčová is searching for an answer to that.

Oldřich Bystřický, 17 September 2013   / translated by Matthew Sweney

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