(yes, it is) 23 of May – 26 of June I’ll be one of three residents in the project Walking Peace in the Avian Kingdom in Sweden, organised by ARNA at the very spot where two pilgrim trails meet in Harlösa. Walking Peace is a green, slow and peaceful way of making new connections across cultural backgrounds and religions, creating art as a statement for peace while walking. Afterwards I'll be researching the pioneer life in Värmland.


Full circle


First day. Arrival. In the evening I went out for a walk. I left the village of Harlösa behind me and followed a small trail. Big snails crossed my path. The moon was almost full. When I turned around to walk home, I saw a snail with an almost white house on his back. He must have been around for a long time. He looked as if he was carrying the moon.


Fika (which is very important in Sweden, meaning drinking coffee –or something else- with cake or cookies –or something else-) at Kirsten’s place. She tells me the snails were brought by the monks who came over in the 12th century from Premontré in France to stay in the Övedskloster, the monastery at Öved. Little is known about them and there is nothing left of the old monastery. These days there is a privately owned castle. But the big “escargots” that wander around these days are the descendants of the snails that lived there in the 12th century. People here hate them because they eat the vegetables in their gardens.


Small walk. Lots of snails. I carry one all the way. The last kilometer we walk up hill from Harlösa to the wooden museum houses. The path is called the snail trail. I saw why.

I take the snail home. I put him in a plastic container. I wonder if he likes lettuce. My housemate Sean adds some leaves from the garden so he can have his pick.


Rain. Snail weather.


First part of the Pilgrim Trail. The sea, the sea, the sea .......


Second walk. Presentation in the evening.
The first thing I did when I came home from my artist’ talk, after I had poured myself a glass of wine, was checking on the snail. I left it outside when I went to the community house at 18.00 and since it was 23.30 now, he couldn’t have moved farther away than 3,5 x 4,8 meter = 16,8 meter. In fact he only moved 50 cm. If i would be sentimental I would write now we had gotten attached to each other. Of course we haven’t. Still I was glad he hadn’t gone far.

I did some writing and went to sleep. Around 5 in the morning I woke up and realised I had forgotten to put the snail back inside. I walked into the garden to discover he had climbed back into the plastic container I kept him in. I know it was only because there was food inside, but still ......


I’ve been researching snails and read about the love dart. Prior to copulation, each of the two snails attempt to "shoot" one (or more) darts into the other snail. There is no organ to receive the dart; this action is more analogous to a stabbing, or to being shot with an arrow. The dart does not fly through the air to reach its target however; instead it is fired as a contact shot.

Mating always begins with a courting ritual. The two snails circle around each other for up to six hours, touching with their tentacles and biting lips and the area of the genital pore. As the snails approach mating, hydraulic pressure builds up in the blood sinus surrounding the organ housing the dart. Each snail manoeuvres to get its genital pore in the best position, close to the other snail's body. Then, when the body of one snail touches the other snail's genital pore, it triggers the firing of the dart.



Last walking day for this week. I forgot my map. Too many things to do in the morning. Hurrying. Then just after we started there is a big snail on the road. Somebody says “yes, this must be the right way”.


A week has passed. Our first day off. Breathing in, breathing out. There has been a lot of rushing during the walking. There were always appointments with people we had to be in time for. Keeping the speed, keeping an eye on your watch, limited time to wander off. Lots of people to talk to. Little silence. Don’t get me wrong, it was wonderful. Meeting beautiful people, being welcomed in the warmest way possible, never ending hospitality, and being in situations that gave me new things to think about. They need to be balanced though and they were this morning when I sat in the grass and looked at how the snail slowly and silently moved in its own way, touching the grass halms with its tentacles (they carry their eyes on the upper set and smell with the lower two).

Here we are. And as my walking partner Sara told us on our last walking day: always at the right time in the right place.



We met a lot of priests today. What struck me most was how happy they all seemed to be. One walked the labyrinth with us outside the cathedral in Lund. One told us about Kodaly's organ music. One wanted to pray with us. But I don't pray. So I sat with him in silence. He said "God is love". I don't believe in God, but I do believe in love.

Love is its own answer.

"... love does not fill anything, not the hole you have in your head, not the abyss that you have in your heart. Love is an absence much more than a fullness. Love is a fullness of absence. This is, I grant you, an incomprehensible thing. But this thing that is impossible to understand is so very simple to live."

Christian Bobin, The very Lowly

Flädie and Rilke

It was the second day of walking the Pelgrim Route in Skåne, Sweden. We left from Flädie early in the morning. A small town with a big church. I never heard of it.
Back in Harlösa in the afternoon I went to the library to collect the English books I ordered. Only one of the four I requested had arrived. “Letters to a young poet” by Rilke. I’ve got a digital version in my computer but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a proper paper copy in the house.
After the artist talk in the evening, meeting loads of people and talking about many different things, I sit in the house with a glass of wine and open the book. I read it many times in the past years. Now I brouse through the letters. I arrive at the eighth letter. And read it is written in Flädie, Sweden, 12 August 1904.

“Were it possible, we might look beyond the reach of our knowing and yet a bit further into the past across the farmsteads of our ancestors. Then perhaps we would endure our griefs with even greater trust than our joys. For they are the moments when something new has entered into us, something unfamiliar. Our feelings become mute in timid shyness. Everything within us steps back; a silence ensues, and the something new, known to no one, stands in the center and is silent. ... And this is the reason the sadness passes: the something new within us, the thing that has joined us, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer there either  -  it is already in the blood. And we do not find out what it was. One could easily make us believe that nothing happened; and yet we have been changed, as a house is changed when a guest has entered it. We cannot say who came; we shall perhaps never know. But many signals affirm that the future has stepped into us in such  a way as to change itself into us...”


The cathedral in Lund sounded the church bells especially for us. We were being welcomed as pilgrims. The pilgrim priest sang a hymn for us in a very touching way as she led us to the pilgrim altar. I thought: "I didn't deserve this". But maybe I have to learn to accept what is offered to me without questioning it all the time. But still.

Lots of new questions today. And there will be more tomorrow.

 I started today with Brendon LaBelle: "To step is to dream."
(from: Handbook for the Itinerant)




First walking day.
I start today with Basho, the haiku master
who accompanied me on other walks
and is a good companion always.

It is from the book "The narrow road to the deep north and other travel sketches". To my surprise, the artist who shares the oldest house in the village with me brought the exact same book.

it was with awe
that i beheld
fresh leaves, green leaves,
bright in the sun

-matsuo basho



with sean gardiner (photography) and sara nuytemans (kinetic object)



we started in the middle

the Pilgrim Way Skåne Blekinge is a part of the long route connecting Santiago de Compostella in Spain, Vadstena in Sweden and Nidaros in Norway
we will walk a part of it, starting at the west coast this monday, May 27, and finishing 15 days later on June 11 at the east coast of Sweden

today we walked a middle section of the route, the part ending in Harlösa
a kick-off

beginning in the middle is strange
is it really a beginning?

we were driven to Silväkra to start the walk
i was thinking of Peace Pilgrim (more about her later) who for a long time refused to accept lifts because she wanted to walk only

i wondered if it makes sense to start all our walking days in a car being driven to the stretch of the pilgrim route we have to walk on that day

but when we started walking i forgot about any question i had

ah .................

to put one foot in front of the other
to stop the thinking
to just be
be walking

maps & suit

walking to make a difference

"Many people make the mistake of looking for someone to make change for them when the real change in this world comes from within. The top-down approach for making the world a better place, i.e. electing politicians to do our bidding has come and gone, with little success. There's a revolution happening right before our eyes... The rules of change, of activism, of consciousness, and of helping people are being rewritten by you and me, one connection at a time."

Today the Walking-Peace project officially starts. Today we will go on our first walk. Today is also the first day of the March against Monsanto. Another walk for awareness. Against the manipulation of nature. The beginning of the Food Revolution. Read all about it HERE: (the quote is from the website)


Since he knew not the question
He found it easy
To give the answer

- Dag Hammerskjöld, Waymarks


One of the things I have been planning to do during the walks is collecting “y” shaped branches. Pronounce it and you know why. I found the first one today.

There is something special about them. You can use them to find water or to build a catapult. I will use them to find questions. Big questions and small ones.

This is what Ilya Kabakov says about it: 
“So. The question has disappeared which was posed in previous times. ‘Why am I living in this world?’ It is primitive to such a degree that even the very posing of it is incomprehensible. But still in the 20th century people asked this question. And in the 19th century, they were completely permeated by it. And in previous epochs it was a fundamental question. ‘How’ was an animalistic question. ‘Why’ was a religious question. This meant that your human life was serving something bigger. The question ‘why’ often annuls the program of the question ‘how’. There is no single answer to the question ‘why’, but the very posing of such a question transports you to a different realm of existence. From the moment a being starts to ask the question ‘why’, he becomes human.”


First day, first walk, finding the right speed


Leaving. Having left. Being inbetween. A night train in the morning. Curtains half closed because the travellers in the beds on top are still asleep. Outside the sun is shining. The rapeseed fields are everywhere. May. The yellow month.

We are travelling through Denmark. I’m sitting on my bed. I slept well, apart from the half hour inbetween 2 and 2.30 when the fire alarm was sounding. Somebody had been secretly smoking. Nobody knew how to turn it off.

Where am I? I’m in Denmark, but that is now what I mean. The last weeks have been hectic and I better not write about the last days. Leaving is always a lot of work. It is so much work because time is being devided in “before”, “during” and “after”. Because suddenly the things you normally postpone until they are about to happen, the things in the “after”, seem to be so much closer.  And the things you had been planning to do but haven’t done yet seem to be so much bigger.

But here I am. In the inbetween. A small bubble of time. Five weeks in which I will be walking and meeting new people. In which I will be thinking and writing about life and art and nature. In which the before and after won’t exist. I’m here. I arrived. Although I haven’t reached my destination yet. Harlösa. A small Swedish village that only exists in images so far. In the centre of the village is an old farmhouse, the oldest one in town. That is where I will be. And you are welcome there any day in the next five weeks.


"Perhaps the country only existed in its maps in which case the traveller created the territory as he walked through it. If he would stand still, so would the landscape. I kept moving."

Peter Greenaway, A walk through H


In order to do what you do, you need to walk. Walking is what brings the words to you, what allows you to hear the rhythms of the words as you write them in your head. One foot forward, and then the other foot forward, the double drumbeat of your heart. Two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, two feet. This, and then that. That, and then this. Writing begins in the body, it is the music of the body, and even if the words have meaning, can sometimes have meaning, the music of the words is where the meanings begin. You sit at your desk in order to write down the words, but in your head you are still walking, and what you hear is the rhythm of your heart, the beating of your heart.

Paul Auster, Winter logbook


a plastic journey

with the plastic crusader
walking for a cleaner world
watch the video HERE



"To step is to dream"

Brandon LaBelle, Handbook for the Itinerant

this is what happened

April 3d 2013. Day 109. I had been wearing a three piece walking suit for 108 days in a row. I used it as my notebook, embroidering texts and drawings on the inside. I called it my "soft armour". I had decided (with some help of Thoreau) I had to wear it until the wearer had transformed. Day 109 I realised I already had a soft armour. I realised the only way to make a difference is by being yourself. I realised I had to quit aiming for an academic career and start walking. Start and never stop. So I walked in my first, my original soft armour through the city. And a few hours later I received an e-mail with an invitation to walk in the Avian Kingdom in Sweden.

I will buy myself a new three piece walking suit. I will wear it in Sweden every day for 5 weeks in a row. I will wear it during the planned walks for which all sorts of organisations and individuals are invited (and everybody is welcome to join). I will wear it while doing other things. Meeting people. Shopping for groceries. Strolling through the village. Hosting dinner parties. And wherever I am, whatever I do, whenever there are people around I will ask them if they want to exchange a piece of their clothing with a piece of my suit. I will cut out two identical pieces and swap them, sew my suit-piece in the other person's clothing and his or her piece in my suit. After five weeks, my complete suit will be dispersed among the people I met. They will all wear a small piece of my suit. And I will go back to where I came from wearing a suit consisting of bits and pieces of the people I encountered.