The wanderer’s dilemma – drawing by walking

A site-specific installation by Bjørn Wangen. I draw by walking until a path is formed, i.e. a stroke or line. That’s what a drawing artist do, draws lines. The route forms a long winding track. The curve is based on the mean temperature at the site, on a weekly basis from January 2023 and on. I will extend the length of the trail each week until the end of the exhibition period in November 2023. After that, the trail will slowly disappear.

The work can be hard to see at a distance. Follow this map on Google and you’ll find it:

This site-specific work is part of [X]sites, an international land art project with art made by artists at different sites along bicycle trails at the Swedish west coast.

Path meandering over grass

9th of December

An image taken from above on a frosty day the 26th of November. It shows the path in its entirety after finishing. The bluish area in the lower part of the image is rime on the shadowy side of the grassy brink. Photo: Hjalmar Dahm

26th of October

It ends in a downward fashion, as expected… The mean temperature is descending fast, so the path is getting quite close to the last three now.

Soon this path will enter a new phase. Fugitive, as most paths are, this one will probably slowly disappear. I don’t think any locals will take over to keep the path open. Why would they? This path has no clear function. It doesn’t lead to somewhere and it is not a short cut. This path occurred one day as from nowhere, started in the middle of the turf, and will stop there as well. A short thread in the weave of time. It will soon be gone.

15th of October

This project is heading towards its end. There are still four weeks left of the 20 week exhibition period though. I have trampled a path which is now, with all its windings, divisions and loops, about one hundred meters long. I will prolong the path with four new meters until the 5th of November. The mean temperature is going down quite fast now. The line will probably end quite close to the last plane three.

This is a Google maps image with the five plane threes. I added a temperature curve, drawn by hand. Blue is zero degrees Celsius. The orange curve shows, left to right, the mean temperature on a weekly basis, from January through today, the 15th of October. The path is based on this curve. I have hoped for Google to take an image of the path from above, but not yet.

8th of October

I solved the trouble, partly formulated as a cry for help on where I should go. I realized it was a missing movement before the division, a smaller convulsion which gives way for a larger one. This may sound theoretical, but is indeed very concrete and linked to the practice of walking and drawing. It makes sense when I walk the path. It’s physical.

21th of September

Where should I go now? Will I find my way? The path splits in three directions. I’m in trouble. A colleague recalls what I once said: doubt has always been the engine of my work.

In the times we live in certainty and facts seem to be the only answer. But art must raise questions, not only on topics, but even on its own becoming and being. I was thinking about this when a woman came by. She had seen a school class walk along the path a couple of days ago. She said it reminded her of some lines from a poem by the Swedish poet Lars Gustafsson(in Swedish at the bottom):

/…/ That is the whole point of being a path. That it has been done
before. Who made the path? 
/../ All and none of them. We make it together,
you too make it on a windy day when
it is early or late on the earth:
We write the paths, and the paths remain,
and the paths are wiser than we are,
and know all we wanted to know.

from Ballad of the Paths in Vastmanland by Lars Gustafsson

in Swedish:
/…/ Det är hela meningen med att vara en stig.
Att det har gjorts
 förut. Vem gjorde stigen? 
/…/Alla och ingen. Vi gör den tillsammans,

också du gör den en blåsig dag, när det är tidigt eller sent på jorden: 
vi skriver stigarna, och stigarna blir kvar,
och stigarna är klokare än vi,
 och vet allt det vi ville veta.
ur Balladen om stigarna i Västmanland/Lars Gustafsson

24th of August

I measured the total length of the path so far. It is now 80 meters long. I’m quite amazed. It’s by far the biggest drawing I’ve ever made. But it is the trace from a persons walking activities which amazes me the most.

9th of August

A huge pool of water has occurred in the recessed area next to the walked line. The area serve as a reservoir in order to prevent flood. Suddenly I got a little lake neighbouring my work.

I have been walking a lot these days. I had a nagging feeling that the trail isn’t sufficiently visible. I guess I tried to balance my desire to keep it discreet with some fantasy that it must be fully present. Or I just want to have full control… To my relief a woman came by yesterday and said that the trail is so clearly visible. She passes there every day. She said that she is so excited to see the path extend.