The Caravan & The Great Exchange

Temporary belongings for temporary geographies

The Great Exchange was commissioned by the Sideways Festival, a four-week walk across Belgium that functioned as a mobile laboratory for contemporary art and cultural research.

Based on the Belgian tradition of the Ruiltocht (“trade-trip”) in which young people repeatedly exchange one item for a new item, we developed a strategy for exchange, interaction and trade that would accompany our journey through Belgium. One of us would exchange the material, while the other would exchange the immaterial (stories, boasts, myths, jokes, rumours, sayings, memories).

A Ruiltocht usually starts with an apple or an egg, so we started with an apple and the story of an egg. The apple was given to us by Fernando, a truck driver from Portugal parked on the motorway just outside a village called ‘Paradise’ and the story of an egg was given to us by Lode, a dairy farmer in Zonnebeke who was hosting the Sideways team at the start of our journey.

Each day we exchanged our possessions for new possessions. Traces of our presence were left behind as markers, while others were taken on as temporary belongings; A migration of objects, histories, interests, ideas and values. We always aimed to increase the perceived value of our possessions. Whatever we had at the end of the Sideways Festival would be sent back to Fernando and Lode.

During our walk we compared our parallel trading processes. What was the weight, mobility, longevity, value, purpose and legacy of both the material and the immaterial? How do you document the immaterial? How do you give it away, or leave it behind?

An apple for a saw
A saw for a watering can
A watering can for six Belgian beer glasses
Six Belgian beer glasses for an electric fan
An electric fan for a parasol
A parasol for a bicycle
A bicycle for a go-kart
A go-kart for a hammock
A hammock for a crystal chandelier
A crystal chandelier for a shopping trolley
A shopping trolley for a wooden flour scoop
A wooden flour scoop for a picture of a plane
A picture of a plane for a bottle of syrup
A bottle of syrup for a candleholder
A candleholder for an antique clock
An antique clock for an abdominal trainer
An abdominal trainer for a coat hanger
A coat hanger

A story of an egg
A story of a mystery massage
A song about an apple
An instruction to visit a water tower
A history of the golden hands
A philosophical tale about a quiche
A joke about three Belgian celebrities
A story about two birds
A story about a liar
A moment of silence
A joke about two babies
A joke about two cows
A story about a vagabond
A story about the past of a place
A story about the trees with the knitted scarves

A report on our experiences during the walk will be posted here in the future.

Lucy Frears wrote about the project here:

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Susanne Kudielka and Kaspar Wimberley work internationally as interventionists and performance researchers specialising in site-specific and site-responsive art, alternative strategies for audience interaction and new forms of artistic collaboration.

The artistic process usually begins with a given site, and a process of observation and dialogue that analyses, and eventually responds, to the architectural, socio-political, geographical, mythological, connotative and historical narratives that can be found there.

Projects are quietly subversive, playfully readjusting the narrative and appreciation of a particular activity or a given site. The working process often involves those that live in an area, and aims to be accessible and relevant.

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