It was somewhat sad to see R take off with a sackload of roadside chapels – I had very much wanted to partake in the journey, an adventure that would take him and his fellow travelers from suburban Stockholm down through an increasingly devout Europe. Or that it was how I imagined the lands south of here; a landscape devout in terms of number of people actively pursuing a faith within the framework of organized religion. I was curious to see how the chapels would be received along the way and to know to to what extent a crude miniature chapel could inspire to a moment of contemplation along different kinds of roads in this imagined Europe.
The chapels traveled in bits and pieces; a DIY-kit that required little else than a few nails and a hammer for assembly. The image within was another matter. R brought a beautifully cast St Cristobal from Mexico made of resina, rock hard and with great detail. I spent a few nights trying to make a silicone mold from the figure which then would be used on the journey– my idea was that the figure would be cast the night before erecting the chapel, after the bikes had been dismounted and camp had been secured for the night, thus providing a night-long curing of the figure. It did not quite work out– I was lacking in experience with the material, and had already used up most of my provisions of silicone in a vain attempt to make a huge mold for the entire chapel (“no problem, Robert, you can pick up concrete anywhere along the way, all you´ll need is some water and a trowel”).
In the end, the chapel was made out of wood, and the faulty silicone mold for St Cristobal only held up for a few figures. Further down the road, the chapels became homes to icons that bore closer resemblance to the patron saint of travelers; icons that were assembled en route and thus spoke both of and for the landscapes transversed.
Whatever sadness I may have felt at the departure soon gave way to a sense of joy at receiving reports from the trip. The chapels dotted the landscape and tied together nation-states, cultures, zones of languages and monetary systems in a rough squiggle from north to south-east. My small part of making this happen started out as something rather mundane: a few night spent with sketches, silicone and plaster. Into other hands, through other lands the chapels have transcended way beyond whatever my intentions may have been for them; I imagine a strike of lightning in a muddy field; the intent curiosity of a woodpecker and the careful token of dried flowers befalling unto the chapels as we speak.