(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.



I changed the title of this blog from “walking peace” into “walking in circles”. That is what people do naturally. If there is no way to orientate yourselve, your feet will lead you to where you started. Scientific experiments with people walking in dense forests and in the Sahara have proven that. Furthermore, most dead hikers are found within a mile, if not 100 meters from where they got lost.

I thought I would be here to walk and think about walking. But I find myself being rushed along a pilgrim trail in order to have meetings with mainly religious people. The farther we get away from the starting point, the longer we spend in the car in order to walk, to do our walking duty, to find ourselves in a car again, being driven back to where we started off in the morning where coffee and a hot shower is waiting. Where there is a fridge with food and a soft bed in the evening.

A few times I heard somebody say how lucky we are that we can walk the pilgrim trail and at the same time have all the luxuries of a proper home. But we are not walking this pilgrim trail. We are going through the motions. And walk another pilgrim trail. The one we always walk as artists. The one from a starting point where there is nothing to the end point where there is a work of art.

The meetings are interesting. Very touching sometimes, difficult at other times. Some priests welcome us with food, some with songs, some with words, some with prayer. I try to be open to all of it, to accept what they want to offer, my challenge is in doing that. It is easy when the gift is a fish pie and fresh strawberries. A warm hug, beautiful music. It is easy when it is a discussion about the lack of openness in some people’s thinking, the political situation in Europe, the story of how somebody grew up and found something he believed in. It is easy when it is a curiosity about your story.
But I find it difficult when I’m being offered words from the Bible, when I hear the word “god” being used as if I should know what is being talked about.

“They are only words”, Sean said after he was asked to read an often used passage from the Bible starting with “The Lord is my shepherd”. Yes, they are only words but I believe in the power of words. Words are magnificent. They can be used in any possible way, to hate and to love, in equal measure. To liberate or to kill, in the blink of an eye. They puzzle me, they worry me, they make me smile. They are what keeps me sane at times. They drive me crazy at other times.
But I don’t believe in the Lord.

I am planning something. It involves a bible and me folding the pages into paper airplanes one by one, sitting in the exhibition space, trying to throw them out of the door, folding and throwing, folding and throwing, folding and throwing. Repeating myself. Words, gestures, flowing through the air, trying to find a way out.

Some people might call it an act of rebellion. But it isn't. I’d call it an act of love. It is a question trying to find an answer. It is walking my own trail in the sincerest way possible.

Here is Christian Bobin, in his beautiful book The very Lowly. A meditation on Francis of Assisi:

“The Bible is a book composed of many books, and in each one of them are many sentences, and in each one of these sentences, many stars, olives trees, and fountains, little asses and fig trees, grain fields and fish – and the wind, everywhere the wind, the mauve of the evening wind, the pink of the morning breeze, the black of the great storms. Today’s books are made of paper. Yesterday’s books were made of skin. The Bible is the only book made of air. It is a flood of ink and wind, a mad book, adrift in its meaning, as lost in its pages as the wind on supermarket parking lots, in women’s hair, in the eyes of children. A book that is impossible to hold calmly between your hands for a prudent, distant reading. It takes flight on the spot, scatters the sand of its phrases through our fingers. We take the wind in our hands and very quickly we stop. As at the beginning of a love affair, we say: I’ll stop here, I’ve found everything. I’ll stop here with the first smile, the first meeting, the first chance phrase.”

I will give the words back to the air. But I’m afraid I can’t do that until I read them first. All of them. So I will do that. And I will walk. Properly. Finally.