Video and text by Hannah Wadle
In this video the viewer becomes part of a Masurian coach journey with German-speaking tourists. The stretch from the video leads us through the village of Sztynort which we view from a coach window.
Landscape is multi-sensory. We see, hear, sense our environment. The bus is cool and we are moving smoothly over the new concrete surface of the roads. Light and shadow are taking turns. As we are moving together through space on a coach, landscape moves like a film. We are sketching a path, a narrative through space. The tour guide and the coach driver are the first curators of this mobile art installation of views and movements. Layers of the landscape include an audiobook of Masurian stories and occasional explanations via the microphone.
On the backseats, a passenger is checking his paper map to track our journey. Another one has fallen asleep on the shoulder of his wife. We are creating a landscape shared and yet private to everyone, seen from one moving coach, but from everyone’s own window to the world.
Language weaves meaning into the environment. In each language one can say all sorts of things about places in the world. Yet, there is always a history, an atmosphere of speaking about particular places in a given language. Masuria in German sounds so familiar, so homely. For some, but not for others. But the coach can also be a comfortable space to slowly familiarise oneself with other stories, from other languages, from other experiences with the area.
The video is part of a year of ethnographic fieldwork in Masuria from 2010 and 2011, which I conducted as part of my doctoral field work in the area. As part of it, I was searching for the different ways people are making sense of space and of each other there – touristically and locally.
Hannah Wadle finished her PhD about Tourism Cultures and Social Change in the Masurian Lake District at the University of Manchester. She is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Anthropology and Ethnology, Adam-Mickiewicz-University of Poznań. She is also the founder of Stn:ort Pałac Festival.