Posts Tagged ‘route 66 travel keroac harold stephens road trip sandberg flower art tourism’


February 16, 2010

The road nears. I feel like it is calling me. There is a deep need inside of me to drive. I spend my days trying to save fuel and resources so that I can splurge two to three times a year on a road trip. In my mind, I am calculating my own carbon offsets. Sometimes, I justify my meager travel with a higher cause- a search for meaning in my life as well as others. Is this right? I find this underlying entitlement to travel, almost an arrogance in the writers on the subject. There is a feeling that we should stay home as to not rob natives of their own progress while allowing the intellectually elite a free pass to travel while telling us how bad it is. Now, I feel like I am falling into that hypocritical area that I wanted to avoid.
Lippard says that one could travel under the concept of an international eye. That statement seems pretty leftist as I am having trouble comparing it for a possible defense. If Rirkrit Tiravanija can travel to the United States and drive across the country for art’s sake, are we still showing an international eye if a National Geographic photographer travels for the sake of education to others? I am not defending high-impact travelers by any means. Despite fuel consumption, Kerouac traveled to experience a variety of simple poetic scenes that most people failed to appreciate. Lippard seems to disregard his travels for lack of an international eye [art].
Does intention or time make travel justified? Podell & Stephens (Who needs a road?) originally set out on a testosterone filled journey in 1965 to circumvent the globe leaving a world record never to be broken. (It was arguably broken this century.) Instead, after bombings, burglaries, breakdowns, floods, fires, sandstorms, stonings, diseases, deaths, wars and romantic entanglements they brought a wealth of international cultural/political awareness to the people. Similarly, Kerouac’s original intentions fell short (by three years) of what it was he was researching, not until afterward did he decide to write the “the story of his life…[to] write it as it happened” giving us one of Americas greatest stories of the Beat Era. In defense of Jack, “digging” is now a performance art. Appreciation for simple acts in time can be regarded as art, therefore falling under the international eye.
But, here lies the problem with art for art’s sake and the international eye concerning the justifiability of travel: Underground Tourism. This has been of great interest to me from trekking up and down the Mississippi River for the last twenty years of my life. I learned all of the local lore concerning the sites and non-sites. I was later an unofficial tour guide for our Sculpture Association sharing “local” stories with visiting artists. I became extremely interested when I read Nick Kaye and learned of the idea of intersticial connections in a city. Similar to watching COPS, Chicago has a “ride with a cop” tour that a friend went on. Underground tourism, like undiscovered cultures, survive until someone finds them and “Disneyfies” it. They are not in the international eye, or the art eye until after the fact. Lippard lists this as genuine travel. Therefore, it IS possible to travel without the ends being pre-justified.