Autostop

26.05.2017

ZK/U (Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik), Siemensstraße 27, 10551 Berlin

curatore: Lýdia Pribišová

with participation of:

Konstantin Bojanov, Jascha Fibich (tramprennen.org), Family Worm (Judit Fischer, Miklós Mécs, András Zalavári), Oto Hudec, Andrea Kalinová, Patrick Laviolette, Jűrgen Rendl, Frauke Zeller & David Harris Smith (hitchBOT)

 

ZKU is pleased to present the group exhibition Autostop (artists: Jascha Fibich, Oto Hudec, Andrea Kalinová, Jűrgen Rendl, Family Worm (Judit Fischer, Miklós Mécs, András Zalavári), Frauke Zeller & David Harris Smith) curated by Lýdia Pribišová, accompanied by a discussion with the artists moderated by anthropologist Patrick Laviolette and a screening of the movie Avé (directed by Konstantin Bojanov), which is a part of Speisekino program in ZKU. For this project, various artists from around Europe, actively engaging in hitchhiking, were asked to present a work connected with this topic. The project consists of videos, performances, photographs, objects, film screenings, texts and discussion.

 

Until only recently, hitchhiking was a popular means of travelling for free, favored among young people, students and adventurers. Entire generations, now in their thirties to sixties, waited along roads, with wind in their hair, devising crazy strategies in order to draw attention and appear trustful. There are various motivations for using this alternative way of transport: an inability to pay for transportation, a lack of transportation options, and a desire for adventure and even ecological reasons. Various hitchhikers understand their way of travelling in a myriad of ways: as a holiday adventure, as a political statement, as a sport, as a school of life, and as a meditation but also as a sort of art. The action of hitchhiking is also an intervention into public space and is close to performance art as it deals with the emotions, corporeal engagement, body language and social interaction. The situation in the car is a dense combination of anonymity and intimacy. Hitchhiking is not always idyllic; it also has its dark and dangerous face – apart from the obligatory endless wait in the scorching sun or pouring rain, in their hitchhiking career, all travelers have had at least one dramatic experience. These tales became inspiration for various books and movies, among the most famous being On the Road by Jack Kerouac /1957/, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams /1978/. The Hitcher is a 1986 road horror film directed by Robert Harmon and written by Eric Red, with a psychopathic hitchhiker as the central character.

The start of hitchhiking is connected with the spread of the automobile in the beginning of the 20th century, especially in USA. Fueled by unemployment after the war, a wider ownership of cars, and the improvement of the road infrastructure, hitchhiking increased in prominence and importance throughout the late 1920s. The majority of hitchhikers in the first decades were respectable and reputable: students or soldiers. The Second World War saw another steep increase in hitchhiking activity in the USA, as on the one hand consumption of tires and gasoline was restricted in a wartime effort, and on the other hand millions of men joined the armed forces and became the new privileged class of hitchhikers. After the war, the practice also started to gain popularity in Europe, first of all in Great Britain. In the 1950s, the practice became quite popular throughout Europe. It was frequently used by the beat generation and later by hippies, for which it had meaning of politicized signifying practice. It was emblematically charged with notions such as antiauthoritarianism and solidarity, and promoted as an ideational alternative to the societal fixation on efficiency and commerce.

Today, hitchhiking is on the decline; people are more used to comfort, buying their own cars and using low-cost air carriers more frequently, but also due to the general deterioration of societal trust. Individualism in postindustrial neoliberal capitalism has contributed to an erosion of solidarity. The internet works for hitching as a double agent: with its spread, increased various platforms for ride sharing arose and consequently a large number of hitchhikers moved to this virtual sphere so we see fewer hitchhikers on the road. But on the other hand, they started to use the tools as hitchwiki and organized themselves into platforms such as abgefahren-ev.de, tramprennen.org, sporttrampen.de or anhalterfreunde.de.

Hitchhiking is, as Maike Mewes wrote in her diploma thesis (Riding with Strangers: An Ethnographic Inquiry into Contemporary Practices of European Hitchhikers, Hamburg, 2016) a catalyzer, an incubator of human relations, compressing social dynamics to a higher intensity, bringing to light the many implications of trust, risk, and security, our notions of charity and who deserves it, conceptions of gift and exchange, as well as perceptions of good and bad fortune. It features various ethical aspects, such as trust, altruism and empathy. The event Autostop aims to revive this multitasked social phenomenon and draw more attention to it.

 

Program

18.00 opening of the show Autostop

19.00 - 20.00 dinner

20.00 discussion about hitchhiking with the artists moderated by anthropologist Patrick Laviolette and curator Lýdia Pribišová

21.00 guided tour in the show

21.30 introduction of the film Avé by the director Konstantin Bojanov

21.30 - 22.00 film projection