The diaries of Far From Where?

Diary from Gaiman, Argentina 

Sunday 1:st of January 1995. Bus terminal Rio IV, Córdoba, Argentina. Four p.m. Seat 33 bus line TUP. I begin my journey to Trelew. 64 dollars. I've got a constant pain in my waist due to helping my brother in his home two days earlier. I take analgesics. Monday, 2. After travelling all night and making transfers in Puerto Madryn and Trelew I'm exhausted when I arrive in Gaimán. During the day Don Joaquin and I make plans for the week and we decide where to install the oven in the park. We choose a piece of land facing the river, cleaned of weeds, surrounded by a barb wire fence with empty soda cans as decoration at the top. Heavy pain in my waist. I'm a guest in Don Joaquin's home and he tells me that I will be regarded as part of the  family. The family go to bed rather early to watch TV. I listen to the radio - kindly given to me - until I fall asleep. I listen to a broadcast from the festival of Chacarera, Santiago del Estero. Wonderful. Gieco is the guest of honour. Tuesday, 3. We dig the hole for the foundation in the sandy ground in the park facing the river. Heavy pain in my waist. As always I try to forget about it, but during the night I pay the consequences. Wednesday, 4. We buy bricks at a local brick works and we decide to contact a local bricklayer, Lucero, to let him help us especially now when I realise that my pain stops me from working at normal capacity. I don't want to take advantage of Don Joaquin's tireless energy. During the rest of the day I move second hand bricks with a small barrow that I found in the other end of the park, to fill the foundation. When we finish working in the afternoon we have filled the foundation and built the first four layers of bricks. We work all day, bent towards the ground. Heavy pain during the night. It makes me very worried because the same problem sometimes used to paralyse me for an entire week. Now it's out of the question to permit anything like that to happen. I buy more analgesics: 26 dollars. Thursday, 5. We finish this day's work filling the cylinder with sand, which serves as a base for the cupola. Tomorrow we'll begin building the oven and that is always a crucial point as far as the construction is concerned: you're beginning to see how it takes form, you're no longer sweating with your nose pressed to the ground. During the day, in spite of hard work, I spend some time with Don Joaquin and we meeting people passing by and talking to people from the village while we buy material for the oven. Friday, 6. Epiphany. We build the cupola to the 8th layer, which is up to the opening of the oven and the smoke hole. During the night I feel less pain and it makes me feel so much better. I decide to go to the local bar to celebrate in advance. Don Joaquin doesn't want to join me. I'm a person who enjoy long nights and I had spent the entire week going to bed early. It is a marvellously black and starry night. I sit down at a table and light one of the cigars that I brought with me and I drink two whiskeys on the rocks. Feeling totally relaxed I walk back to the park. The older people are almost asleep and without a sound I go to bed with the radio tuned on beside my pillow. Saturday, 7. At 3 p.m. the Sculpture-oven is finished with plastering and the first layer of lime. I say farewell to Lucero. We have enjoyed each other's company and talked about everything. I pay him 60 dollars. At night after supper I convince Don Joaquin to join me and go celebrating. We go together to the bar and stay there until 10.30 p.m. Sunday, 8. While I'm painting the oven a second time Don Joaquin is painting one of his characteristic signs, where he explains to the visitors about the oven that is built there. I take photographs and say farewell to the family. We agree to keep in contact and make plans for future projects. Don Joaquin drives me to Trelew in his old Citroen. Bus terminal at Trelew, Chubut, 17.45. Seat 25 Rio IV, bus line TUP. 64 dollars.


Diary from Dzamin Üud, Mongolia 


Saturday, 12th of July 1999. I begin my journey that will take me to Mongolia. I catch a KLM plane to Beijing. Sunday, 13. I arrive in Beijing. Nils is waiting for me at the airport. Feng is with him in his taxi. We go to Nils's place and there we decide that I will stay with Magnus Lindbom. Monday, 14. Rain. I'm planning what things I'll need to buy. Nils takes care of everything in order for me to get the most out of my stay in Beijing and get to know the city. Tuesday, 15. Varied weather, sunny and rainy. I visit The Emperor's Summer Residence in the outskirts of Beijing. Liu takes me there in his taxi. Wednesday, 16. Nice weather. Magnus is guiding me in the silk market. I have lunch with Nils and Bo Gunnarsson. Thursday, 17. I visit the Forbidden City, walking by myself all day. Friday, 18. Sunshine and heat. All the day in the streets. Behind the Tianammén Square. Antique and art markets. At night I have dinner at India's place with Nils and Lovisa. Saturday, 19. I walk around in the city without any specific plans. I buy the ticket to Mongolia. I rest and at night I move in with Nils and Lovisa, because the Americans arrive and there's not enough room for everyone at Magnus' place Sunday, 20. Feng comes early in the morning to pick me up in his taxi, to take me to the Chinese wall. He takes me to one station of The Wall and I walk all day on the wall to another station where Feng waits for me to take me back to Beijing. Monday, 21. Last preparations. Tuesday, 22. We leave early for Mongolia. Even though I oversleep Feng Comes to pick me up in his taxi and we arrive at the train station just in time. The journey takes all day. We arrive (late) at 23 pm to Dzamin Uüd. Some people are waiting for us. They take us to the hotel, very close to the station. Wednesday, 23. We get up late and go to meet Enkhe again and we start making plans for the work we have to do during the week. We go to the place where we've decided to build the oven. We're going to install it beside one of the "ger" that is the home of Unro and Bataar, situated in the outskirts of the village. The material is already there. Thursday, 24. We're digging and building the foundation. Friday, 25. We work all day, surrounded by children and curious people. We build until we reach the 6th layer. The film camera doesn't work (it has to be the dust). Saturday, 26. We build the oven until the 10th layer. At 6-6.30 p m we go by jeep on an excursion into the desert, organised by Enkhe, Nils and Kamba. One group starts earlier in order to get there before us and prepare something to eat. The trip took much longer than we had thought. Finally we caught up with the first group. We eat, sing and socialize in front of a big fire with the cold desert wind blowing at our backs. Around 4 in the morning we go to sleep completely exhausted. Sunday, 27. All day in the desert. We go back in the afternoon. Traffic jam. I'm feeling weak, with diarrhoea and a sore bum due to the hard seats in the jeep. We arrive in Dzamin Uüd at night. Monday, 28. We're working despite of the hangover and we finish the 10th layer of the cupola. When the opening and the smoke holes are finished we've got to the very last part of the work. I pay 100 000 Tugriks to the people for buying meat, beer and vodka. Tomorrow I will invite everyone for a typical argentine "asado" (a barbecue). Tuesday, 29. The oven is built! Plastered and painted. Around 6 pm I start preparing the meat for the grill. I have invited 30 people. The dinner lasts most of the night and as always we consume a lot of alcohol. The Mongolians appreciate the steak, in spite of the fact that to them it is something unusual. Wednesday, 30. We meet again at the hotel and take care of the debts. I pay 700 dollars for used materials, accommodation in a hotel and for the excursion to the desert. At 12 I go to the place where the oven is installed to take the last photos and to say goodbye to the family. In the afternoon Enkhe and I take the train to Ulan Bator. The journey will last all afternoon and night. Thursday, 1st of July. We arrive in the morning. Enkhe takes me to a massage institute where I stay while she takes care of some practical things. After the massage and the baths Enkhe comes punctually and picks me up in her taxi.




She takes me to her work at the National Museum of Art. In the evening I go to Melody's place. Melody is a teacher and a friend of Enkhe. I pay 30 dollars for a room. I check my cash: 900 dollars left, 480 yans and 70 000 tugriks. Friday, 2. I decide to go back to Beijing this weekend. I change money, send my clothes to the laundry and buy the return ticket and some more film slides. Enkhe introduces me to a person who will be my guide and interpreter in Ulan Bator: Tserennadmid "Tseggy". She takes us for a walk in the city, visiting the Museum of Fine Arts and a Buddhist monastery in the outskirts. Saturday, 3. I spend the whole day alone visiting another Buddhist temple. At night the three of us go to the theatre to see Mongolian dancers and listen to Mongolian songs. After that we have supper in Enkhe's apartment. We say goodbye. Sunday, 4. I pay for the apartment and I pay Tseggy for her guiding. I give Enkhe the "radio" that I used to build the oven. It will stay in the museum. I have 600 dollars left. I leave for Beijing. Monday, 5. I arrive in Beijing at 15.30. I take a taxi to Nils's place and I check into a hotel opposite his house. Tuesday, 6. I change some money and spend all day in the streets with Feng. Despite of the rain falling almost all day we go to the silk market, where I buy clothes and presents. Feng helps me to bargain. I change my return ticket for Thursday, 8th of July. Wednesday, 7. Alone all day. I walk around in the city and visit a Buddhist temple, close to Nils's place and to the Museum



Diary from Dzemul, Mexico 

Sunday, 26th of November 1995. I'm in Caracas participating in the Biennale "Barro de América" ("America's soil") with my project "Humo de Mundo" ("World Smoke"). Today is the inauguration. Monday, 27. I fly to Cancun via Miami. Two friends of Miguel's, that I don't know, are waiting there for me. They help me to find a taxi that will take me to the bus terminal. When I get there I catch a bus to Mérida... Finally I arrive exhausted at 17.30. Miguel is waiting for me, great joy to see each other. We go to his home that he shares with Maria Herrera, his Mexican wife. I spend the night there. Tuesday, 28. I change 100 dollars - 650 Mexican pesos. We go to Komchén by the ordinary minibus for short distances. Shortly after we got there we choose the place and start digging the circle. Wednesday, 29. The foundation is made of stones, bricks of burned clay are not possible to find here. Yucatan has almost no soil as it was originally below the sea. José starts working. We help him collecting stones. Thursday, 30. José finishes the foundation and we start to fill it. We go to the sea to collect sand. I buy a film, 80 Mexican pesos. Friday 1st of December. We travel to Mérida. I change 100 dollars, and buy blocks of concrete, lime and equipment. Saturday, 2. While we fill the blocks with clay in order to isolate better I make a "radio" of wood and we buy concrete in the village. Sunday, 3. Miguel and I work and build 4 layers of the cupola to form the opening. Monday, 4. We finish the cupola and start plastering and repairing the holes. Tuesday, 5. After the plastering, we make a finish with red clay, called kankab in this area. At 12 we're ready. I press my right hand in the fresh clay of the platform opposite the opening to make a handprint. Wednesday, 6. We go back to Mérida. We rest and Maria is with us. At a cooperative of women weavers, owned by friends of Miguel's, I buy a beautiful hammock from Yucatan, handmade. In the evening we go out to have dinner. Maria with her strong personality was upset with the waiter because he served us wheat flour tortillas. Thursday, 7. We go to Chichén Itzá with Miguel. Maria is working so we meet her in the afternoon and we go together to the traditional Jaranera Festival in a square of Mérida. Friday, 8. I go to Cancun. From there I catch a plane to Caracas via Miami. I arrive in the middle of the night. I have to wait a long time for my suitcase. An incident involving two taxi drivers, and finally back to the same hotel at night. Saturday, 9. I sleep late. I go to the museum to meet some journalists. I walk around in the city. Sunday, 10. I pack my things for my return. I go to the Sofia Imbert museum for the last time to see the installation. At 18.10 my plane takes off for Madrid. I've got 100 dollars left. Monday, 11. I arrive in Madrid at 7.25. I change to a plane for Copenhagen at 11.50. I will get there at 15 pm and from there I'll take a ferry to Malmö. 






Diary from Auckland, New Zealand 


0414. We leave Malm?. Plane from Copenhagen to Bangkok. 0415. We arrive in Bangkok at 6.00. 11 hours stop over. In the city everybody is celebrating Thai New Year. We leave Bangkok at 17.35. 0416. We arrive in Brisbane, Australia early morning and finally in Auckland at noon. Jim and Richard meet us at the airport. In the evening, dinner at Jim's place. New friends. Excellent cooking. 0417. We spend the day buying material and tools with Richard and Sheyne. We decide the final location for the sculpture. It will be at The Manukau Campus, a Maori School campus in Mangere, Auckland. 0418. Holiday. We prepare the last details with Richard so we can start working soon. We visit his studio. Back at the lodge, we try to send the first pictures to Ren?. We have problems with the sending. 0419. The mark is initiated. I begin digging to prepare for the foundation. Maria assists and helps me all the time. We spend the afternoon and night with old friends of Maria's family in a very nice area of Auckland. 0420. Raining. Passing through Auckland downtown area on our way back to the lodge. If it stops raining we will go on digging... 0421. Still holiday in NZ. A beautiful day, we work hard until 2 p.m. The foundation is finished. Jim comes to see us with his daugther Bianca. 0422. NZ gets back to work after Easter holidays. The material is delivered and we begin to do the bricklaying at 1 p.m. Rango, one of the students, helps us. Four layers finished. We still have some problems sending the pictures due to irregular access to the Internet. 0423. Delayed pictures for the site finally sent in the morning. After hard work with Demitrius and Tim helping, ten layers of bricks were completed. No rain today. A lot of friends visiting. 0424. We fill the base. A lot of friends come by to help out. Lunch togheter at the art school. Sheyne takes us downtown. We see the NZ movie "The Whale Rider" and pass by Jim's house late at night and stay over at Sheyne's place. 0425. Holiday again in NZ, Anzac Day. We start working late. The base is finished and we begin the dome. Sara and Kathie take us to Helensville, up northwest. We spend the evening at Grand Hotel. Good company, dinner, dancing and tequilas till two o'clock. 0426. A very good day. Sara helped us with everything. Back and forth to Stevenson to get all the new material we need, fixing breakfast, lunch and working with us. Two men from the lodge transported bricks with their van. Four layers of the dome finished at 6 p.m. 0427. Sunday. Rain and sunshine. Hard work to finish three layers more and to form "the mouth" of the oven. Jim passed by with a wonderful lunch. Sara invites us to stay over at her place, looking forward to a good night's sleep. 0428. A hard working day. The sculpture was finished at 6.25 p.m. Plastering and painting tomorrow. School started again after the holidays. A lot of art students came to see the sculpture. Lunch with Richard, Sara and Nowell. Planning the trip to Cape Reinga in the Northland. 0429. An early morning lecture on the "Faraway from Where?" project for art students at Te Wananga o Aotearoa/University of New Zealand. Back to the Manukau Campus for plastering and painting the sculpture. Many students came to see it. Hard work, everything finished at 6.15 p.m. Official opening on Friday May the 2nd at 4.00 p.m. 0430. 24 hour trip to the North with Richard and Sheyne. Maori historical sites, eel for lunch, Kaori trees, Waitangi National Reserve and spending the afternoon at Ninety Mile Beach. Finally we reached Cape Reinga and the lighthouse. Meeting point of two oceans at the most northern extreme of NZ. 0501. Resting from work today. Normal work day for NZ 1st of May. Students made a installation inspired by the oven and played rugby. Rango cooked exquisite fish from Ninety Mile Beach for lunch. Shopping with Sara in the afternoon. Dinner at a Turkish restaurant. Preparing arrangements for the opening tomorrow.



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