Something must have woken him. He remains outstretched in his sleeping bag and listens to the sounds of his surroundings. Only a few meters away from the spot where he has set up camp, he hears a soft crackling in the undergrowth, followed by an owl preparing its song for the night ahead. In the far distance, the steady and dull roar of advancing cars is heard. Otherwise, nothing but silence, a silence he believes he hasn't heard in years. Slowly, he straightens his exhausted body, pushes aside some of the branches that make up the entrance to his windswept dwelling with his left hand, and sticks his head out into the cold air of the approaching nightfall. In front of him, fields stretch for kilometers across the sloping hills, interrupted only by a few houses, farms and roads that lie scattered across the landscape. Above these hills, the soft pink streak of the setting sun. To his left, the lights of a small town already lying in the semi-darkness. For how long has he been asleep? He has been on the road for four days now. According to his calculations, it should be another four days before he reaches the protective mountains of the Thuringian Forest. Had his companions also read the signs? Will all of them be at the appointed spot? Will Herma also be there? As far as he can remember, the diesel tanks were checked and refilled only a few weeks ago. Before the day comes to its end and before the last light disappears, he goes in search of dry wood along the edge of the forest. It will be a cold night.
Backpack (minimum of 50 liters)
Water filter (in case you can't boil water, or chlorine tablets)
Emergency fishing set
Knife and machete
Rain cape (camouflage)
Warm and comfortable boots (break in at home!!!!)
Thermal pants and jacket (camouflage)
Change of underwear
Maybe radios (one set)
Gasoline (store at home)
Solar charger for cell phone
Special things ;)
Well before the new day begins, he leaves his makeshift dwelling, wipes off the titanium dishes lying in front of the entrance with a rag, and puts them into his backpack with his other belongings. Overnight, the fire burned down to a shiny black and silver heap. He covers his tracks, scatters the ashes in the wind and packs an empty tin can – Erasco Feuertopf – that lies near the scorched grass, into a plastic bag and sets off in the direction of the southeast, to where he thought he had recognized the lights of a city the night before.
At dusk, he emerges from a grove of trees and looks at a farm with scattered stable buildings and a run-down shed. To his left a corral, the ground trampled to mud still sadly empty at this hour. His gaze wanders across the stables to the house. A dog barks then falls silent only a short time later, apparently falling back into his sleep. Everything is silent. Carefully he crosses a square gravelled with rubble, passes the corral to his left, then skims the back wall of the shed and crosses an orchard that stretches along the edge of the homestead. Old, long unpruned treetops above tall grass. At the end of the orchard, he creeps under the low-hanging branches of a hazelnut, into a thicket of bushes and shrubs. With a long stride, he crosses a small stream that flows murkily and sluggishly through the undergrowth, and he lies down on its protective bank, watching the road that leads to the city. Only a few of the houses are already illuminated. In the glow of a courtyard light, a man in red work pants climbs into a car and wearily steers his Octavia out of town, heading north. Probably the morning shift at the Schkeuditz plant, he thinks to himself. Another few minutes pass, and he lies motionless in the damp grass, looking at the settlement in front of him. Nothing seems to be moving. He decides to go closer, steps out of the bushes towards the road and then follows a sparsely overgrown ditch that runs along the edge of the asphalt road. Suddenly, he notices a magenta-colored glow of light rising on the white wall of a gable roof that is getting closer and closer to him. He pauses, sits down in the long grass and fumbles in his trouser pockets with his right hand. A few coins, apparently the last of his money. Otherwise, only the Visa Gold Card from Hanseatic. By this time, someone should already be in the office. Was his suggestion to overhaul the ordering and controlling system accepted and implemented? He could pass behind the two houses, along their hedges, into the playground that colorfully peeks out between them. Then he would almost be at the telephone booth. If he does it right, no one would notice him.
He quietly lets the glass door close behind him, glances around once more and searches his trouser pockets for the change. The shrill metallic sound of the coins falling down the designated slot makes him cringe. Hesitantly, he dials the company's number and takes a deep breath. A short crackle in the line, then the beep of the dial tone. Suddenly he remembers that the financial figures were probably published last week. Another short crackle, this time on the other end of the line, “DH Consulting & Solutions GmbH, Secretary for Dr. Blaier. How may I help you?” Everything starts spinning in his head. Hastily, he hangs up the phone.
I roll out my blanket.
Is this the right place,
taking up its post among
those line of trees
I start a fire.
crack open a can of beans.
How you feel tonight.
I hold my breath.
I feel warm. I am hopeless.
Still this place is hope
Berlin, February 2016. Together with a friend, I see Iñárritu's Revenant in a cinema in Neukölln. The film includes several shots that could actually be described as a variation on the same theme, and which play an integral role in the film's dramaturgy, helping to set its pace. I was almost physically moved by these scenes, in which Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, finally manages to start a fire. The inhospitable nature, perhaps the real protagonist of the movie, at odds with the man-made fire. Having just escaped from a river, lying in soaking wet clothes on the moist sand of the shore, a fire is lit with the last of his strength beneath a rocky outcrop. Even for me, in the warm, plush cinema seat, the shivering cold that had previously passed from the screen onto me finally disappears.
Admittedly, such scenes, whether in books or in movies, have always attracted me. Moments when a camp is set up and everything comes to rest, a can of beans is warmed over the fire, whispered conversations ensue, falling asleep to the howling of the wind. A pause within an environment that is not favorable to humans. That which confronts one from the world outside should stay away for a short night. I ask myself why, already in my youth, I searched for exactly such scenes in adventure novels and films, looking for that moment of security and warmth, which seems to arise with the protagonists of those stories only when they seemingly distance themselves from the hunt they are actually on, which actually surrounds them. Surprisingly, one would think that children do not even notice such a hunt; it is, at least for many people with such a well-off background as mine, rather in the world of adults to settle. And yet, I think that even then we were aware of the fragility of the structures that we were building branch by branch. Those moments that we shared together, pressed against each other in the glow of the fire, must have seemed to us like a shimmering but fleeting promise that eventually had to fade away.
Rope – rope is not rope. I have had good experience with cord. Stretching in the storm is not detectable. It is relatively cheap and is worth its weight in gold in the forest. Unfortunately, it is not available in camouflage color. Alternatively are the command ropes from ASMC.
Who wants to get a bow should be clear about two things: 1. A compound bow has a lot of power and is very accurate, but you should plan to spend a minimum of 800 euros. OK, there are cheaper ones, but who buys cheap pays twice. And besides, if you break a string in the forest, you can throw the whole thing away. 2. With conventional bows (long or recurve bows) one must: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It's not that easy, believe me. But you can replace a torn string quickly!
Knife and machete – sure, but pay attention to quality.
A few months ago, I started watching the YouTube channels of rightwing preppers. A dismal fascination I could not get rid of for several weeks. An enthusiasm for camping, bonfires and shelters is also advocated on those channels. Painstakingly blunt and palpable camping romanticism. I felt caught, glued to it, and as is so often the case when topics are suddenly taken over and occupied by the predominantly wrong side, a process of checking and balancing begins for me. Today I think to myself: perhaps the fear conjured up by these preppers and the resulting need for resilience could be countered by the fragile moment of my very own interpretation. Where there a primordial state is considered endangered, which has to be defended, the situation here at least pushes towards the possibility of a quite different future, in the sense of a longing for a state which should finally come about, at least linger for a short moment, and then – sadly – must fade away again. Fragile, not lasting.
And the next day, the hunt starts all over again. What remains is a pile of ashes, flattened grass.
a shelter left, a can cracked open, a blunt machete by Philine Kuhn and Jonathan McNaughton is part of the exhibition "Are We Not Plunging Continuously" by the Postdocumenta Project of ASFA Athen and HGB LeipzigPhotographs by Philine Kuhn Text by Jonathan McNaughton
Translation: Elizabeth GerdemanCoding & Graphic Design Insa Deist