Umělec magazine 2002/4 >> Please, Follow My Journey Across the USA List of all editions.
Please, Follow My Journey Across the USA
Umělec magazine
Year 2002, 4
6,50 EUR
Send the printed edition:
Order subscription

Please, Follow My Journey Across the USA

Umělec magazine 2002/4


Tomáš Vaněk | news | en cs

To everyone I haven’t told :

I spent the last three months of last year in the USA. Most of this time I spent in Headlands, a former military zone now a “Center of Arts,” as announced by the sign on the roads leading in. Headlands lies among the hills about a 15-minute drive from San Francisco and about a 15- minute walk from the waters of the Pacific. I flew to California because I won the Chalupecky Prize in 2001. I flew to the States for the first time in my life. The journey there and back plus the ticket to New York City cost around 33,000 crowns.
In Headlands I had my own studio, a room with a white cat, four cars to use for short trips, regular meals, and the presence of other people, mostly artists, but that’s how everyone called themselves: the chefs, repair men, and office workers. I received 500 dollars a month.
Often I drove to San Francisco. I would cross the Golden Gate Bridge and always had to pay a five-dollar toll. I would visit the friends of my friends, and later the friends I had made. I would wander around the town and look for all the places where A. Hitchcock shot the film Vertigo. I thought about Pěchouček and how this was his favorite movie.
From the Czech Republic I had brought with me warnings from former winners of the prize that the Headlands are wonderful, but I wouldn’t get anything done. That made sense. You are in America, close to the sea, they take care of you, nothing to bother you, the days are sunny, so why do anything at all.
I bought a small digital camera. In China Town they wanted 1,200 dollars for it. Rip off! I knocked it down to 700 dollars. David Černý was there with me, and he helped me to get a good price. Almost one hour.
For a long time I had problems with the time difference. I couldn’t sleep before 4 o’clock in the morning. Nights I spent in the studio or by the sea. I listened to music by the Palace Brothers and spent my working hours staring at the walls of the studio. I was hypnotized by the doorknobs. So I sprayed their shadows using stencils. The notice boards also got me. I sprayed on the pins and their shadows with stencils.
The possible multiplicity of the sprayed pins, hook nails, razor blades sunk in the walls and the shadows of the doorknobs brought an offer by Oakland Museum at the local Mills College. So I sprayed my things directly into their permanent collection. From Steven F. F. Jost, director of the museum, I got 50 dollars for my travel expenses. Another offer came from the private sector. The pins plus the other things I sprayed directly on the walls in the office of Ms. Barbara Hill’s home on Francis Wood Street in San Francisco. She paid me 300 dollars. I started to think about how many times I could repeat that before this concept became “devalued.”
Here devaluation is in direct relation with the energy of money.
In art we also use the term that something becomes “hip.” I mean that something no longer has the “value” that “something” maybe had at “sometime” in the past. That’s also “devaluation.” But here we are not talking about value in terms if money. It is about the value of freshness and interest towards the context.
I started to spray pins onto dollar bills. I bought things with them. It’s likely that others have done the same. The pins went into monetary circulation. The bills were a medium carrier of something other than what they were meant to be. They were “devalued” by another value without losing their own.
At present there are about 36 pins in circulation. Most of them entered circulation when I paid the toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. It was no problem. I gave away the bills with the sprayed side down. The advantage was that I could drive away quickly after I had paid. To my surprise, once I got a dollar bill with a stamp on it at the same toll station. Because I’d paid with a 20-dollar bill. It was a blue printed announcement: “Please, Follow My Journey Across the USA” followed by the web address:
At first I thought that it was only money stamped by the bank, but because of the stamp, the bill at that moment lost its value. It wanted me to follow it. I held it in my hand and expected the pull which would show me the way. It also crossed my mind that it could be some kind of communication from someone to others. Please, Follow My Journey Across the USA could be just one sentence from some longer text. Maybe even a cipher. That it could be an art concept also occurred to me. I even imbued it with political subtext. “Where is George?” Is it a matter of the government, or against the government, I thought.
But a web address was written there, which suggested some kind of legality. Before I could get to the computer, I showed the bill to several people in Headlands, but they didn’t know what it meant either.
But it all became clear. is a web page where you insert the year and value of the bill, its serial number, and the postal code where ever you are. You write a few sentences where and under what conditions the bill came into your hands and a huge American dollar locator will tell you all the places this stamped dollar has been. The locator would tell you how long this bill has gone unaccounted for before it traveled from Livermor, CO to Sausalita, CA and that before it also went to Idaho Fall, ID. That in total it journeyed 3887 miles in 364 days, which makes 11 miles a day. In addition, you will find out that the bill is now registered and it is recommended that you take your friends out for dinner with this bill and to let George know how it went.
The quality of this information is basically statistical. I participated in a statistical game. Money is the currency. The idea that around each bill rotates some kind of energy fed directly from devalued essences is clear. Nevertheless, the idea of the rotating paths on which these bills are driven by this energy is ungraspable. The idea that the bank notes are the carriers of sprayed pins is real. Where is the pin?
During my last visit to George’s page, my screen started to blink and it told me that I was the 15th million visitor, and that I’d won 1,600 dollars and a trip to the sea. I was supposed to call immediately 1 800 291 7447. I guess I dialed it without the area code — the receiver said over and over again that the number doesn’t exist.

Tomáš Vaněk



There are currently no comments.

Add new comment

Recommended articles

An unsuccessful co-production An unsuccessful co-production
If you know your way around, you might discover that every month and maybe even every week you stand the chance to receive money for your cultural project. Successful applicants have enough money, average applicants have enough to keep their mouths shut, and the unsuccessful ones are kept in check by the chance that they might get lucky in the future. One natural result has been the emergence of…
The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s The Top 10 Czech Artists from the 1990s
The editors of Umělec have decided to come up with a list of ten artists who, in our opinion, were of crucial importance for the Czech art scene in the 1990s. After long debate and the setting of criteria, we arrived at a list of names we consider significant for the local context, for the presentation of Czech art outside the country and especially for the future of art. Our criteria did not…
Acts, Misdemeanors and the Thoughts of the Persian King Medimon Acts, Misdemeanors and the Thoughts of the Persian King Medimon
There is nothing that has not already been done in culture, squeezed or pulled inside out, blown to dust. Classical culture today is made by scum. Those working in the fine arts who make paintings are called artists. Otherwise in the backwaters and marshlands the rest of the artists are lost in search of new and ever surprising methods. They must be earthbound, casual, political, managerial,…
Wicked / Interview with Jim Hollands Wicked / Interview with Jim Hollands
“A person must shake someone’s hand three times while gazing intently into their eyes. That’s the key to memorizing their name with certainty. It is in this way that I’ve remembered the names of 5,000 people who have been to the Horse Hospital,” Jim Hollands told me. Hollands is an experimental filmmaker, musician and curator. In his childhood, he suffered through tough social situations and…
04.02.2020 10:17
Where to go next?
out - archeology
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
S.d.Ch, Solitaires and Periphery Culture (a generation born around 1970)
Josef Jindrák
Who is S.d.Ch? A person of many interests, active in various fields—literature, theater—known for his comics and collages in the art field. A poet and playwright foremost. A loner by nature and determination, his work doesn’t meet the current trends. He always puts forth personal enunciation, although its inner structure can get very complicated. It’s pleasant that he is a normal person and a…
out - poetry
THC Review and the Condemned Past
THC Review and the Condemned Past
Ivan Mečl
We are the fifth global party! Pítr Dragota and Viki Shock, Fragmenty geniality / Fragments of Charisma, May and June 1997. When Viki came to visit, it was only to show me some drawings and collages. It was only as an afterthought that he showed me the Czech samizdat publication from the late 1990s, THC Review. When he saw how it fascinated me, he panicked and insisted that THAT creation is…
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
To hen kai pán (Jindřich Chalupecký Prize Laureate 1998 Jiří Černický)
birthing pains
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Who’s Afraid of Motherhood?
Zuzana Štefková
Expanding the definition of “mother” is also a space for reducing pressure and for potential liberation.1 Carol Stabile The year was 2003, and in the deep forests of Lapák in the Kladno area, a woman in the later phase of pregnancy stopped along the path. As part of the “Artists in the Woods” exhibit, passers-by could catch a glimpse of her round belly, which she exposed especially for them in…
Books, video, editions and artworks that might interest you Go to e-shop
Mask, 2005, etching, 39,5 x 27 cm
More info...
160 EUR
187 USD
More info...
12 EUR
14 USD
Mens, 1994, acrylic paintings on paper, 38 x 28, framed
More info...
550 EUR
643 USD
More info...
6,50 EUR


Divus and its services

Studio Divus designs and develops your ideas for projects, presentations or entire PR packages using all sorts of visual means and media. We offer our clients complete solutions as well as all the individual steps along the way. In our work we bring together the most up-to-date and classic technologies, enabling us to produce a wide range of products. But we do more than just prints and digital projects, ad materials, posters, catalogues, books, the production of screen and space presentations in interiors or exteriors, digital work and image publication on the internet; we also produce digital films—including the editing, sound and 3-D effects—and we use this technology for web pages and for company presentations. We specialize in ...

Citation of the day. Publisher is not liable for any mental and physical states which may arise after reading the quote.

Enlightenment is always late.
CONTACTS AND VISITOR INFORMATION The entire editorial staff contacts



Arch 8, Resolution Way, Deptford

London SE8 4NT, United Kingdom
Open on appointment


7 West Street, Hastings
East Sussex, TN34 3AN
, United Kingdom
Open on appointment

Ivan Mečl, +44 (0) 7526 902 082

Kyjov 37, 407 47 Krásná Lípa
Czech Republic
+420 222 264 830, +420 602 269 888

Open daily 10am to 6pm
and on appointment.


Potsdamer Str. 161, 10783 Berlin
Germany, +49 (0) 1512 9088 150
Open on appointment.



Divus New book by I.M.Jirous in English at our online bookshop.