“Those who fall in love with the Danube do so with the whole river, with her entire body, even those parts they have never seen.“
Nick Thorpe, The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest
Could you say something about your interest in the Danube and how this became the subject of the book?
I’ve been living close to the Danube for more than ten years in Linz (Austria) – sitting on the shore, watching the river flow, watching ships, boats, plastic bottles, driftwood passing by; my thoughts are drifting as I watch the water move and reflect – grey, brown, silver, blueish. A majestic track heading east, crossing ten countries, connecting and separating ever since.
On the shore in Linz, right next to a bridge, there is black stone plate with four big, white numbers “2135” and a smaller engraving of the words “VON SULINA” underneath – pointing out that Sulina is 2135 river kilometers away. Sometimes when I pass that plate my mind starts traveling downstream, wondering and imagining whatever lies between it and the magical sounding name Sulina.
In 2019 I was following the Danube: first I accompanied my friend Pat and his dog V to hike through the Black Forest to its source in Donaueschingen. A little later I traveled through Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria to the Danube Delta on my own by train, bus, boat, walking and hitch-hiking... I was drifting and collecting – taking pictures, taking notes, scanning, picking up things, observing, asking, listening. While traveling I contributed findings of this collecting practice to my blog; back in Linz I decided to produce something tangible that I could share.
You produced the book using a Riso printer and sewed the binding yourself – can you say a few words about the medium and how it suits your way of working?
I enjoy the privilege of working with a riso printer, since we founded MIAU Publishing in 2016. I love the aesthetics of this stencil-print-technique, its slight inaccuracy, its vibrant and pure colors, and the possibility to produce printed matter autonomously. The fact, that I don’t depend on someone else to print gives me a lot of freedom throughout the whole production process – to make spontaneous changes, to experiment, to reprint, to embrace unpredictability ...
My passion for independent (publishing) methods is also reflected in my fascination for bookbinding. Simple bookbinding skills are easy to learn and they don’t require a lot of tools – and yet, or precisely because of this I consider bookbinding to be a quite powerful knowhow. In my opinion, books are a great “packaging” for content of all kind; and they are itself an autonomous medium.
I like to improvise and doing well with little requirement – so from time to time my mobile home turns into my atelier, allowing me to sew my booklets right next to the Danube.
Do you have plans to expand this idea of the Danube journey and produce another project?
This publication is my first printed declaration of love for the Danube, but certainly not my last. This summer one of my dreams is to become true – to travel the Danube by boat, to become part of the flow: I will be part of an artist in residence trip, that is taking place on a katamaran floating downstream to the Delta – the project is called MS-FUSION A.I.R, initiated by the Austrian artist Rainer Prohaska. My idea is to make an “archive of floating things” – to collect and document whatever is floating downstream with us and publish another little book or booklet.
Currently I am experimenting with paper shred leftovers of my Danube booklet – I am weaving paper-carpets with the bleed paper strips and scooping paper (of course mixed with Danube water).
Last but not least I want to thank a few people, for supporting me in the process of this project: Angela Priemetzhofer, Carina Papouschek, Frances Cat, Lukas Jakob Löcker, Pat & V – there are many more names to call, the full list of acknowledgement can be found in the booklet.