Learning by Doing
Learning by doing. That must be the most important aspect learned in Maastricht, the first studio. The expert meeting kicked our ass and finally our own standards were set and the making and doing could start. By the time the studio in Aachen was set up, the BCA-I was in development and the studio days in Aachen were used to test, improve and experiment with those BCA-I’s. The studio in Venlo was the first test of the ‘final’ BCA-I and also the first part of the project to be performed outside the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. Where the border and its impact seem rooted in the historical culture within the Euregio Meuse-Rhine, the cliché differences and opportunities seem more on the foreground in the Euregio Rhein-Maas-Nord. However, the BCA-I held up and proved resistant to these kind of changes in regions. This gave confidence for the last studio of the project in Helsinki, Euregio HELTAL. Taking the ferry led to the realisation that in this region the border is much less an artificial ‘line’ in the landscape but a border between land and water, even between national and international waters. Crossing the border is not a matter of crossing a ‘line’ but of spending two and a half hours on a boat. Without having any specific location or visualisation of the border, the crew and animation on the boat make the BCA an experience in itself.
In Venlo and Helsinki the production of BCA-I’s and strips took a flight. That was also about the time that the BCA-N was born and started its development process to what it is today. During the first Covid-19 lockdown the last BCA-I’s were filled in, in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine. The border between the Netherlands and Belgium was closed while the one with Germany and the Netherlands remained open. Once again, the diversity of the black line and the temporal character of the border of which we are taking the accessibility for granted, right from the beginning of the project suddenly seemed to be no longer a given. Borders experiences are changing constantly, and that is how they should be represented on maps.
Not every BCA-I has made it to the BCA-N, lots of material has been thrown away during the project, and yes, we also lost some work over the last two years but still, the pile of drawings, sketches and notes is cluttered. It was a messy process in which making maps and doing fieldwork kept pushing and pulling the project forward. But also talking! As much as the studio’s put the making at the centre, we did talk and discuss a lot about what has been made. The studio’s helped us become aware of what we were doing and become explicit about it.