96 days

So this is the plan. April 9th I will put on a new three piece walking suit. It will have an embroidered QR code on the trousers, linking to this blog. It will have a lightweight solar panel on the jacket, to power my iPad so I can give account of the stories I find on my way straight away. I will carry my house with me, I will be as independent as possible. My suit will be my notebook, my mindmap, a map of the road I walked. I will embroider small drawings and notes on the outside.
I will walk all the way to the Nomadic Village in the south of Austria. 96 days. In the Nomadic Village I will tell the story of my journey. And create a new one with the Nomads present there.

I will be as self-sufficient as possible, living the simple life, exchanging whatever I have to 
exchange with the people I meet. 

You can help me by adopting one of my days and in exchange I’ll dedicate that day’s story to you. Your name will be connected to the story and I will send you something from the road, although I don’t know what it will be. It might be a thought or an object I find. An e-mail, a postcard, a package. It will be a surprise.
My days don’t have a price. Anything goes. One euro is fine. More is very welcome. You can donate through Paypal through the link on the right side of this page. Choose a day from the schedule below, send me your day of choice, e-mail address and postal address and I will keep you informed. It might take a while before you will get your gift from the road, but the story will be yours to read soon after “your” day. My email-address: monique.besten@xs4all.nl

In the meantime I am exploring the black holes in my old walking socks. You can buy a photographic print for only € 30,- or € 100 for all 4 of them, "simple" shiping included (A4 + white borders, Epson luster photo paper). Order before April 6th to recieve it now, or later and get it when I'm back from my walk.

The Nomadic Village is a mobile art society which is run by and for nomadic artists. Read more about it here: www.nomadic.cd
More about my walk to the Nomadic Village last year here: www.asoftarmour.blogspot.com

(black hole socks for sale: choose yellow, blue, white or pink)

(Yes, the plan was to walk 99 days but I needed some extra time to sort out some important things at my startingpoint.  And there is no use in rushing to be able to be slow, so 99 days became 96 days. I like that number even more.)


why walk?

the why came back
it always does
Dark Mountain Project asked me “why walk”?
they don’t know i sometimes wonder about it myself
when i am not walking i forget why i have to do it
i know i have to but i get lost sometimes
fortunately i’ve got friends who read the meaning in my walk
who write things like “when I am especially sad and the night is especially beautiful, I always imagine you walking and take comfort in that motion.”
and i know my walking isn’t about me but about walking in this world and connecting with people
but what does walking tell us about the world?

i will think about it
and it will be on the Dark Mountain Blog next week



The background of this blog shows an image of one of the 108 embroideries from my second “soft armour”, the three piece walking suit I wore in Weimar, Germany, for 108 days. I am not sure why I used that one. It was a gut feeling. The gut feeling I depend on when I’m on my walks. The gut feeling that told me to start wearing a suit.

In the last week I came upon some laughter in my wanderings in the virtual world. The first laughter was by Philip Seymour Hoffman. He’s a master when it comes to laughing. And in his movie ‘The Master”, he says in front of an audience:

“I have unlocked and discovered the secret to living in these bodies that we hold. The secret is laughter.”

The second laughter came from Charles Bukowski. Not his quote “We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us”, one I know by heart, but a poem I bumped into.

tough cob

we tend to like those artists
who starved or went mad or killed themselves
and were discovered afterwards.
it happens often
because great talent is usually fifty to
one hundred years ahead of its

most of those acclaimed in their
are mediocre performers.
of course, this is common knowledge,
so common that many of those who are not
recognized in their time
believe that this is a sign of their own true
and countless wives, children, relatives,
friends and bystanders
must suffer
because of this illusion.

to laugh truly is to continue anyhow.


holding the universe in your hand

last night I was out looking at the stars
this morning I found a new black hole under my feet
and when I researched guerilla gardening just now
preparing for a long walk involving collecting seeds for seedbombs
I read the best flower for this purpose is called cosmos
there is a cosmos species with the name “daydream”
and at the seedaholic website it says
“Daydream is an improved Cosmos that will thrive in any garden”
 I agree



Making sense

“...... before I walked into the Nomadic Village I stopped and sat down at a bench in the middle of Cuges les Pins. I waited. But I wasn't sure what I was waiting for. For something to end or for something to begin.”

I remember the moment well. September 23d, 2013. I had walked 40 days in a row. My house on my back. That day I had climbed a mountain. I had walked through Holland, Belgium, France. 40 days, 40 stories. My last report ended with these lines.

Something began.

But it had begun already, maybe it began 41 years ago. It had taken me 41 years and 2 days to arrive at a bench in the dark in a village where I’d never set foot before. It had taken me 41 years and 2 days to get a master degree in medieval history, a degree in art, to start an art foundation, to found an artist residency in a far away country, to get a career, to get married, to have dreamt big dreams, to have collected enough things to fill a medium size apartment with, to be somebody.

It took me 41 years and 2 days to realise I wanted to be nobody. Somebody who has her house on her back. Who walks the world in a three piece walking suit to find stories. Who feels at home on her own on a bench in the dark in a strange country.

Something ended.

But it had ended already. It had ended when I started walking.

I first walked as an artist in Amsterdam, almost 10 years ago. I was appointed to be the new bridge guard in the Bridge Guard Art & Science Centre in Slovakia. The bridge that was to be guarded was the Maria Valeria Bridge, connecting Slovakia and Hungary. A bridge that had been rebuilt recently. A bridge that, during its existence, had been destroyed many times to make it impossible for people to get from one country to the other. The Maria Valeria Bridge is 495 meters long. 711 steps. And before I travelled to Slovakia, for two months I walked 711 steps every day, starting from my doorstep in Amsterdam.

I never stopped walking afterwards. Short distances. Longer distances. But the first time I went on a long walk, an absurd 6 day walk following the exact border of a municipality in Holland, walking through fields, crossing canals, entering peoples’ houses, sleeping on the border in a small tent, I felt the way I had felt as a kid when I went out exploring the fast forest behind my parents’ house.

I was hooked. There was no way back. But I didn’t fully realise it until a year later. When I walked from one end of Belgium to the other end together with a group of artists. I was a Walking Librarian, I carried books. And I wore a suit. A three piece walking suit. My first soft armour.

I’m still not sure why I decided on wearing a suit. It made sense to me. It made more sense than anything else. And it still does. Even these days when my body carries a tattoo naming it “a soft armour”.

There have been five suits. I wore the second one for 108 days, using it as my notebook. I counted the days in my collar like a prisoner does. After 108 days I took it of. I walked the streets naked. I got myself a tattoo. I travelled to Sweden.
In Sweden I wore my third suit. I caught snails in it, I walked pilgrim trails. I embroidered it with a neverending red thread, turned it into a map. I thought about the Chinese saying that all people who are destined to meet are connected by an invisible red thread.

The fourth suit was somebody elses’, I found it in the closet of the room I stayed in when I worked as a pioneer in the Swedish woods. It was the sort of suit you see people wear in old movies. The suit they get married in and get buried in. It had belonged to the man who once lived in the lonely house in the woods I was staying in. I wore it one weekend. I brought it back to Amsterdam. It is still there, waiting for something.

The fifth suit, the fourth soft armour, kept me safe all the way from Amsterdam to the Nomadic Village in the south of France. And afterwards, when I harvested corn in a small mountain village in Portugal. On my last day there I filled my pockets with corn and I left a trail. 

I knew I needed a trail. I know how easy it is to get lost in the modern world.

And I was right. Because here I am, back in the “real world”, wondering if I should go back walking. Wondering if I shouldn’t get myself a proper job. Some proper funding. A house to return to. Stability. I know the corn trail I left has disappeared, the kernels have been eaten or trampled by goats. I knew when I was leaving them behind that it didn’t make sense. Just as measuring the corn sheds with my body and wrapping hundreds of kernels in red thread didn’t make any sense.

Here I am. Sometimes I don’t see the sky all day because my city apartment is on the ground floor. Sometimes I don’t see my friends for weeks because they are too busy making money. Sometimes the only way I add meaning to the world is because I pay taxes. Sometimes I follow the rules and feel unhappy, I go through the motions and feel like I waisted my time. People tell me that this is how the world works. Some of my good friends even tell me that. And if that makes sense, then walking the world in a three piece walking suit might make even more sense.

I’ll get my things together.