Détours Travel Agency- A Traveling Travel Agency
A project by Enrico Tomassini, Milly Reid, Michel Gölz & Markus Gebhardt
Détours Travel Agency conducts tours of urban exploration in Vienna. Its target group is people that have recently arrived in the city, and who are in a state of transition between places. We, as travel agents and equally as participants, attempt to discover places previously unknown to us all. Through the documentation of experiences and personal perspectives being made in our city tours, we aim for this collective practice to become a methodology that fosters a familiarity and connection to place. We believe that the quality of being a stranger can bring a new perspective on the city. By sharing stories of places that each of us frequent, we want to uncover the spaces that hold a special meaning to us, and hence build-up a contextual understanding of where we are and where we hope to go.
We operate our travel agency with the use of a Chinese rickshaw cart, equipped with mobile furniture, in order to temporally dwell and create a setting in public space. An heterogenous group of people is invited to be part of each new ‘journey’. Each new journey starts at a specific location where the participants, future travel agents, are introduced to a series of tools encouraging interactions with others and the cityscape that we will be drifting collectively. We say drifting because no destination is predetermined but it is negotiated on the surface of a map at every new beginning. A series of rituals introduce the ‘new arrival’ to the tour. We take out the map and gather around it as each of us mark the places we already know.
The questions asked to facilitate the process of marking are relatively straight forward: When did you arrive? Where are you from? Where did you live? What places do you frequent in Vienna? What’s your favorite place? Where do you go with friends? Where do you live? Where do you wish to go? Etc., yet the responses brought forth stories, memories and trips made to other places in other times. We roll-up the map, pack the Chinese rickshaw and distribute tags, with string and pens and tools for documentation amongst the participants. It is an invite to leave an ephemeral trace pinpointing a perception, an associative memory to another space and time or an emotion along the way, every participant is guided but yet the possibility listed above are spontaneous reactions we could document in the previous tours.
The city becomes a canvas where the process of marking, with paper badges, claims a space of representation for each of the participant: a temporary and unconventional monument is placed. The first badge is fixed to mark the start or a place to go. Is it south, is it north? We are on the move. A space for the construction of oneself memories, that we also use to call future familiarities, is enabled hence a process of familiarization is initiated. The process of marking define an open trajectory along which attachment and identification to a place are fostered in a process ofplacemaking. Ways of orienting in space are questioned. As we walk, we experience the city differently, roles are interchanging then we find a place where to stop.
A mobile space of living is unfold to make everyone comfortable with the new surroundings. We consider each element of our travel agency as part that plays a role in conducting what we like to call our ‘nomadic happenings’. With this in mind, the production of our agency began with the reparation of the rickshaw, and evolved into a series of designs for transformable benches, durable cushions, and the preparation of tea and picnic food before each journey in order to create moments of conviviality for otherwise strangers. Through the elaboration of a flexible method triggering different events throughout a yet not written dramaturgy of the tour we trace out and occupy temporarily a space to let stories and perspectives be told, recorded and framed within final outcome of a map and travel guide that are used as an invitation for others to discover and venture to, hence, new familiar places.
The outcome of the project is a travel guide where the process of arriving and familiarization of the previous tours’ participants is mapped out and narrated. The aim of the travel guide is to invite others to discover and rediscover the urban space through their own eyes, unfolding one of the main quality of being on the move, travelling: the one of being a stranger.This project is for newbies and established ones. It is about arriving and maintaining the capacity to see routinized spaces from a new perspective.
“The only way we can move is collectively, the only way forward is together.”