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Home / Resources / News / The Transnational Walk

The Transnational Walk

This article is part of the Transeuropa Journal that will be published in conjunction with the Transeuropa Festival 2012. 
by Sara Saleri
The Transeuropa Festival opens on the 9th of May with a transnational event – a common gesture – simple and powerful at the same time: a walk taking place simultaneously in all the Festival cities.
The act of walking itself, simple and ordinary as it is, is the prime way to place one’s body in space, to link effectively with the public space of the city, taking direct contact with the urban fabric. To use De Certeau’s words, “it is in the act of walking that persons write and rewrite the city as their space”. Through these trajectories the city takes shape, as a crossroads of moving beings. When enacted collectively (in a demonstration, or in a parade), walking becomes a powerful means to transform the surrounding space, to appropriate it and re-signify it. Walking collectively in many different European cities, we will create a transnational common space through a critical, political and creative gesture. The movements of the bodies, all together, will produce a set of trajectories and also a form of discourse – a discourse about the city, about the urban experience, about Europe itself.
The Transeuropa Festival opening is not a set of separate walks, but a unique event spread across the continent, creating a complex map which links all the cities. As with any map, this map is built starting from a specific perspective, a lens to read the European urban landscape: the one provided by the transnational networks of migrants, which produce new identities, new spaces, new and varying (de)localizations. Our map is to explore the cultural diversity and the multiple movements of the contemporary cities, investigating how the European space is enriched by it being diverse and multicultural.
In every city, the walk explores places showing traces of the migratory experience, ranging from ‘multicultural’ neighbourhoods such as Raval in Barcelona or Barbès in Paris, to the hidden angles and side streets of Warsaw, or the city centre of Cluj, with its historical stratifications of diversity. In every aspect of the complex configuration of these neighbourhoods, we find signs of the mobility inherent to the project and experience of migration. Travel and displacement – which are at the centre of the migration project – do not stop animating the places where the migrants settle, or seem to settle.
Our trajectories in these neighbourhoods take this movement and displacement seriously, by adding another layer: the migratory geographies of each city symbolically “migrate” in the other cities, urban narrations travel from a city to another.
In every city, each stop of the walk will tell or evoke a narration of a place in another  place in one of the Festival’s cities, creating a sort of ”spatio-temporal gate”, opening towards another European city. Theatrical performances, videos, photos, music: all these elements will contribute to this temporary displacement.
So, the transnational walk creates a juxtaposed, multi-layered map and is a paradoxical moment of unsettling and resettling, an ambiguous experience between location and dislocation.
Each walk will be an exploration and re-appropriation from below of a local neighbourhood, allowing us to map hidden places, dialogue with new practices. At the same time it will provoke a sense of displacement and of being out of place. The participants will have the possibility to walk across Europe while moving in the wellknown streets of their cities, and at the same time explore a new, imaginary city. Stretching throughout the continent, uniting in an ideal map from bits of maps of the other cities.
On the ‘official’ Day of Europe, we want to tell another story of Europe – a plural, complex Europe – which has to recognize its own diversity.