The rear window, Ararat 2014

01-06-2014 | The start.

I believe that going around something gives you a broader perspective about the thing you are looking at.

Here I am at mount Ararat trying to figure it out, why is this such a special mountain throughout history? It is not a mountain where I feel like sitting still at one place looking at it trying to discover its mysteries.

I want to be in motion. Just going around it, in a slow pace observing its different faces. It feels like I want to put a pin on top of it with a thread and me on the other side of this thread trying to make a perfect circle.

This in theory would be very simple, because Ararat is a perfect mountain to circle around, but currently, in practice, it will take a lot of d-tours to do so.

Ararat is situated on the borders of four countries; Turkey, Armenia, Nachshivan and Iran.

I will start at the Turkish side in the small town Dogubayazit close to the Iranian border. From there I can circle around Ararat for half a circle but then I'll bump into a closed border of Armenia on the other side of mount Ararat. Not being able to cross that border I will have to drive up towards the neigbouring border with Georgia.  Passing some crazy roads, crisscrossing through the mountains and getting stuck late at night in small villages. And so I did...

04-06-2014 | After three days of driving on muddy roads  from Turkey through Georgia I finally arrived in Armenia, Yerevan. Yeay! I'll be staying here for a while, in an old Soviet School at the edge of the city. To produce clay from the soil I collected around the mountain. 

From Yerevan I will continue my circle for 1/4th more before bumping into another closed border, of Nakchivan.. (Azerbaijan).

To be able to complete the full circle around this mountain I will have to drive through Iran to get back to the starting point, Dogubayazit in Turkey. I am looking into that at the moment, because it might be difficult to bring my green Kermit car into Iran… These closed borders all around me feel like a huge energy block, and I believe they should be opened, but I am not the one to judge that.

Cleaning Lady Yerevan, 2014

23-06-2014 | Sitting still.

It is 40 degrees here and I am sitting in the garden of a Russian school in one of the suburbs of Yerevan. The cleaning lady, who just passed by me, while talking loudly on her mobile phone in Armenian, is starting her day at work.  She looks pretty today in her black and white dress. Not really how I would think, a cleaning lady goes to work.

I am looking at the things around me and everything I see seems to be in some stage of his, hers or its circle. Busy completing a cycle.

The wornout slippers on my feet that badly need to be replaced.
The leaves above my head, of some fruit tree, who are at their greenest.
The empty school building in wich we live, because it is a summer holliday.
The half-cut truck tires put against the wall, that are now functioning as chairs.
The stray cat, who wakes me up every morning because she is hungry.
The birds above my head, who are flying back and forward in between the buildings,

everything and everyone here seems to know where it has to be and where it has to go.

Looking at these things from close by,  gives me a comforting feeling, it keeps me grounded. Like we are all-in tune and just doing what we are supposed to do.

Tum die dumm dummm..
And me?  I am traveling around a mountain in a weird circle, and I am now at three quarter of that circle and that is probably right where I have to be.

Stirring clay from Ararat

15-06-2014 | Continuing.

So here from Yerevan I am continuing the circle around mount Ararat. Following the borders trying to get as close as possible to the mountain. I am investigating the land and the people, I don’t believe a closed border can change what I see.

The land belongs to the land itself, did people ever really own it? People fight over it, love it, mourn for it, defend it, but land is land, it doesn’t go anywhere. We are the ones running over it like crazy...

It feels like I am digging deeper in history every time we travel further. Literally digging the earth and collecting it whenever I feel like it. Collecting stones and clay soil on the way I notice the difference in substance and collour. The Armenian clay is more dark then the Turkisch clay.  And there a many potteres around producing the national icon, pommegranate from it for tourists. Some of the potterers are so kind to lend me a spot in their kiln so I can fire my sculptures next to their pottery.

History is something I can’t stop looking into. Ancient traditions, religions customs. What did people do before me?
What problems did they have?
What did they feel?
What did they see?

Of one thing I am sure; they saw this mountain too. Just the way as I see it now, they felt the same energy just as I feel it now when I am circling around it.

I like that Idea, that people thousands of years ago saw the exact same thing as I do now. A straight line into the past, and also I like it that people throughout ages are just living around this ‘old thing’, minding their own everyday business. With the mountain behind them like a silent witness.

I wonder if it sees me and what it would think of me. Probably nothing...

This is not a normal circle, Ararat 2014

03-07-2014 | Completing.

Yes! we have finished this weird tour around Ararat. The last part of the circle in Iran was the most difficult part, but… perhaps the most impressive.

The sudden change of culture between Armenia and Iran was quite bizarre. While walking over the border, because we couldn’t bring our Dutch car into Iran, everything changes, especially for women. I had to change into long sleeves trousers and cover my hair immediately. We walked over and rented a car with a driver . It was ramadan so no food out. The driver was too tired to drive so Gertjan drove while he took a nap. We managed to reach the area around Ararat within a few hours.

For this last piece of the circle we drove to Maku an Iranian - Turkish border town. From there I could almost see the town where we had started the journey on the Turkish side in Dogubayazit six weeks earlier.

Ararat looked completely different from the Iranien side. It actually consists of two mountains, one big one and one small one. The smaller one is the closest to Iran, so it became all of the sudden very visible. How great! So far we had only seen it hidden behind the big one.

And now it was the other way around.

This whole journey starts to feel more and more like a metaphor of my life. It’s a cycle and I know I have to complete it. It doesn’t really go in a perfect round way.  It’s a curved one with many detours.  Along the way my ideas about myself started to change. Seeing this smaller mountain of Ararat become bigger while we drove around it tmade me realize that things really, really never are what they seem. And are constantly changing when we change our point of view.

It feels like I am the mountain, and I am driving around myself or something like that…A disturbing and at the same time comforting thought.