What a journey it has been… and we haven’t even set foot on the archipelago of Svalbard yet!
Almost 2 years ago this whole adventure sprouted, started of with a little seed of dreams and ideas. A longing to venture to the end of the inhabited world. To see it with our own eyes before it disappears. Our dreams became more solid, more serious. We started on our application, an enormous task of writing and rearranging portfolio’s and C.V.’s. Hours of Skype, with on one side Laurie in Brussels, and on the other side me in Japan. Mailing back and forth, we traveled around and leaving a constant trail of e-mails, messages and phone calls. During a exhibition in Eindhoven with former participants of the Arctic Circle residency we met the artists who experienced the expedition we wanted to be a part of. Talking to them only strengthened our enthusiasm, we had to go!
It was not long until we got the answer we were hoping for; we passed the selection and were invited for the Autumn expedition in 2016. After celebrating this victory we had to get to work, this wasn’t a dream anymore, this was real and we had so much to prepare. The funding was our biggest concern. In the next following months we spend every free time on funding applications, whilst fine tuning our project plan and goals. Sometimes it was demotivating, working on budgets instead of installations. We kept our eyes on the expedition, telling ourselves and each other that it was almost over, almost done, that this was worth it.
Then the rejection letters arrived. I wanted to push them back through the mailbox, hoping the mailman would pick them up, make paper planes of them and set them on a journey elsewhere. But this is how it works as an artist, you write a ton of applications, and get a ton of rejections. Better to deal with it! Because when you send a ton of applications, you get better at it, and it even has its advantages. You will understand your project and plans on another level, sinking deeper and deeper in the elements of your ideas.
We started working on our crowdfunding campaign at Voordekunst.nl. This was a part of the funding process we really enjoyed. We had so many ideas for the video and shooting the video with my dear and talented friend Sietske van der Veen was so much fun! Laurie is great with words, she composed a wonderful to the point text to accompany our video and campaign. I was in charge of the visual component and this time almost everything turned out like I wanted them to be (rare!).
The take-off of the campaign was thrilling, this was the first time we went public with our project! Also the first time of a really close-up video with our faces, talking through people’s computer screens… Embarrassing at times, but than again, we will do everything that will make our project a success! These were probably the longest 30 day’s of our lives, constantly spamming everyone through every social media available. Calling, texting, handing out flyers. This was an extra part-time job!
Some days the donations were pouring in (Yes! We’re going to make it!), other days there was nothing happening, nothing (O my god, what have we done! This isn’t working!). But all the supporting and sweet messages our crowd left us kept us positive and going on. It was an emotional rollercoaster, with a big, explosive and unexpected final. On the last day of the campaign, a few hours before the closing, the BankGiro Loterij Fonds donated the amount of money we needed to make the campaign successful!
Voila, finally official recognition, and the funding to make it all possible.
You’re probably thinking that all we did the last 2 years was hunting for money, and for a part this is true. I think it’s a good illustration of a part that people don’t often talk about (because it isn’t as interesting as the project!), but in a way essential to let things happen.
When we were not sifting through text and numbers, we made maps, going to Schmiede in Austria (an annual gathering of creative people) to experiment with our ideas, collaborate with designers and technologists, reading about alternative cartography, meeting with people and talk about our ideas, be inspired.
I can’t wait to arrive in Longyearbyen the 28th of September. Breath in the air, see the landscape and meet the people. Wandering around with my sketchbook and camera, going on this adventure with Laurie. Doing this project together is precious to me. It is an enrichment. At times it’s really difficult to let someone near your seedlings. Because that’s what they are; that first little ideas and sketches and daydreams. No one ever sees your seedlings but you, you only send them out into the world when there grown up and firm plants. Now I have to share them, and it’s scary! But it’s worth it, like all the funding application crap, it’s all worth it. In 13 days we will walk on the most Northern inhabited part of the world, incredible…
Getting our gear ready for the adventures up North!