Leavinghomefunktion – Motorcycle Travel
At the beginning of September 2014, Anne Knodler, Elisabeth Oertel, Efy Zeniou and Johannes Fotsch started their journey from East Germany. They chose the longest way to the West – the one that crosses the entire East. Their plan is to cross the Bering Strait into Alaska, travel through Canada, drop down into the US and reach New York.
The decision to utilize old soviet motorcycles arrived from the need to overcome cultural communication and media barriers. The Urals have kick-started a real-life process of finding practical solutions to unrealistic situations while involving everyone willing to get their hands a little dirty. Over the past months, the #Leavinghomefunktion project has gained more intentional status as it has motivated travelers to join them from all over the world: Estonian free-rider Kaupo Holmberg, who has since then become a permanent member of the group, Martin from Bavario, Kim from Korea and Pedro Gomez of Columbia RTW.
STAGE 1: Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Georgia. This harrowing stage led the artists 5000 km eastwards to the Georgian Republic where they set up winter camp near the Tserovani settlement. Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Altai Mountain, Mongolia and Far East Russia:
STAGE 2: During the 5 months of stage 2, Leavinghomefunktion covered a distance of more than 20.000 km eastwards. The local’s excitement and disbelief were far from coming to an end. The appearance of the Ural bikes and the abundance of mechanical breakdowns did have a positive impact: It brought them closer to the local people and helped form new social networks which circumvent even the strictest boarders. By using the Ural as a networking tool, the project has been able to prove that direct social interaction can breakdown predisposed ideas surrounding foreign cultures and create a basis for mutual understanding.
From Russia, the group entered Kazakhstan. After managing an endlessness of steppes, characterized by a surround system of ceaseless buzzing winds, the travelers arrived in the Siberian city of Barnaul before making their way towards the golden mountain ranges of Altai. This marked a place of transition – from Russia to Mongolia – the sense of the Asiatic became more evident as small wooden huts began taking on more circular shapes – akin to the yurt.
Mongolia was the most foreign place for the travelers – nothing has so far felt as far away from as this; Roads were non-existent, labyrinths of sand washouts, welders in colorful uniforms and cowboys unlike anything the Western mind should dream. Mongolia allowed the group to enter Far East Russia. Not unlike Ewan McGregor’s The Long Way Round they went down a path that had come with a warning from locals: The Old Road of Bones. Understanding the warning became clear a few days later when swamps began to crop up more and more frequently, sucking the 400kg Urals into thick mud. With food and fuel becoming scarce, it was an extremely tense situation that the group narrowly escaped.
The group has a mantra they live by: “Move and you can move everything” and so far, the artists have gone on to overcome any challenge or extreme situation that has presented itself.
STAGE 3: This will be the greatest challenge yet, the crossing of the Kolyma River and the Bering strait – the most Northern point of Far East Russia. Due to the absolutely extreme tempoeratures found in the region, crossing by motorcycle in wintertime seems nearly impossible with temperatures reaching -50 °C. Last year’s winter camp was in the Caucasian region – this year it’s the upbeat modernity of the Vancouver metropolis. Until the end of May 2016, they will stay in Vancouver working – planning a route for the Kolyma challenge and finding new sponsorships as well as financial support.
The schedule is tight: Within one month of arriving in Canada, the travelers have picked up every odd job that you could imagine. From Santa’s helpers, butchers, constructions workers, artist’s assistants, the list goes on and on. Reaching home late at night means creating and developing funding opportunities, contacting sponsors, organizing international exhibitions, handling their social media- not to mention organizing their greatest challenge: the right people to make the crossing of the Kolyma River and Bergin Strait a possibility!
Financing via Sponsors and Partnerships: Apart from a successful crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, the five travelers have created a range of sponsorship opportunities to financially support a part of their enterprise. The unique locations and setting of the Leavinghomefuktion project offer themselves for product staging and film reviews for an international scope of company products and services. The project is open to any and all new partners and sponsors for STAGE 3. For further information and partnership opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact them directly.
The past summer was just enough to put human and technical conditions to the test. The biggest problems went far beyond motorcycle breakdowns, as the crew had to deal with painfully uncompromising environments, biological factors, fuel requirements and all of this must be once again accounted for before embarking on the Kolyma in 2016.
For a more detailed report on the experience of this project, the artists are working on documentation via text, photography, illustrations and film. At the end of their journey, a selection of the collected material will be edited and published as both a book and documentary film production. All the materials gathered so far are currently going through the screening process. A great deal of work lies ahead on that front, so we encourage you to stay tuned.
End of May 2016 STAGE 3 begins! For further questions and information you can contact Elisabeth Oertel (0049-1725726976), Anne Knödler (0049-1725727235) and Johannes Fötsch (0049-1725726282) or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.