// un-guidebook /

"'This is so nowhere', I thought after having left my train from Bratislava to Vienna at the first station showing something like “Wien.." in its sign. No way that this was the former imperial city, but somehow this seamy blend of industrial brownfields, abandoned shops, vast traffic corridors and large scale retail infrastructures captured me, and I decided to lose myself in this distorted cityscape."

(anonymous suburban drifter)

In September of 1967 Robert Smithson took a bus trip from New York city to the suburban area of Passaic, New Jersey. He disembarked, equipped solely with a Kodak Instamatic camera and a science fiction novel, with the intention of documenting the "monuments" of the Passaic landscape. The result of this excursion was the publication an essay in Art Forum Magazine entitled "A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, NJ" (download as pdf here).

Throughout the last century, avantgardists were attracted by the urban peripheries, from Robert Smithson to J.G. Ballard. The Situationists introduced the method of 'Dérive' to deliberately lose themselves, striving to get closer to some kind of essence of the city and being.

"In Walter Benjamin’s terms, to be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty and mystery. And one does not get lost but loses oneself, with the implication that it is a conscious choice, a chosen surrender, a psychical state achievable through geography.

(Rebecca Solnit: A Field Guide To Getting Lost)

One might choose to get lost in Stadlnova in order to find out about the real character of Bratislava and Vienna, and whatever might or might not be in-between these cities. This deliberate practice may reveal new meanings and ideas in an unknown, yet familiar context. The 'Un-guidebook to Stadlnova', comprising the findings of our project, will become our invitation to get started.