Slow Travel: Crossing Europe with a Giant Land Ship

Belgian art collective Time Circus built their first prototype of a giant Land Ship that will travel through Europe. Like a modern-day galley, the land ship will be propelled by the muscle power of the participating travelers. The journey is understood as a 21st century pilgrimage and will take an estimated 10 years.

The Journey

Along the journey, people can board the land ship and travel along for as long as they want to. Longer stops will be made in Marseille (France), Novisad (Serbia), Timisoara (Romania) and Elefsina (Greece).

In 2018, land ship terminals will be built in these cities. Like bus stops, these will show how long it takes before the vehicle arrives. The start of the journey is planned for 2020.

The Ship

When we talked to one of the makers earlier this month in Antwerp, he said it was not yet clear whether the final vehicle would be a single monstrous land ship of 50 metres long, or a caravan of ‘small’ ones the size of the first prototype, which is 13 metres long.

He said they were also contemplating the use of draft animals or sails — reminiscent of the ancient Chinese wheelbarrow. The vehicle or vehicles will be equipped with sleeping accommodation for at least 50 people.

Confronting Bureaucracy

Either way, the trip will be challenging, not only because of the physical effort involved, but also because of many other obstacles, from bridges over telephone lines to rules and regulations. Time Circus wants to “obtain freedom of movement by gently opposing regulations with inventiveness and the use of the grey areas of the law, confronting the bureaucracy in a playful and witty way.”

The slowness of the journey gives ample space for meetings and interaction along the road. The main message of the project is to demonstrate that “unexpected forces can develop through cooperation”. It also wants to “encourage the imaginative forces in the world, introducing alternatives that lie dormant”.

More info: Time Circus. There’s also a video (in Dutch).