Letter to a Silk Road

Silk Road travel

In April 2023 I’m driving the Silk Road from Amsterdam to Kyrgyzstan via Istanbul and Tblisi. Of the whole network of the former Silk Road, this thin thread is the only passage between Europa en Azië at this moment. I hope to revitalize this thin silk thread as a choreography between politicly problematic areas.


The publication of A letter to a Silk Road is a work book, an experiment, a start of an exchange. It came about after artistic research in Kyrgyzstan in 2019. Marjolijn Boterenbrood was part of an international team of botanists looking at the rich biodiversity of this republic. She studied the connections of this country, that is situated in the heart of the old silk roads along which silk and other products, animals, seeds, religions, ideas but also deadly diseases travel.

On the maps of an old Soviet atlas of Kyrgyzstan she drew images of her own experiences in the Netherlands and the encounters with the people of the Kyrgyzstan Republic during the study tour. This is the core of the publication. It is not an end product, it is also an invitation to artists and artist collectives to think about an alternative silk road, an alternative Eurasia connection. It is an open work, others can run off with it, a means of transport, an intermediate step, an invitation to react, to stat a dialogue, a collaboration. 

A letter to a Silk Road consists of a letter to the artists of the Kyrgyzstan Republic, a text section of curator Binna Choi, 18 prints of the drawings made in the atlas and the stories that are at the basis of this. Accompanying the workbook are two articles. One by art historian and curator Renée Borgonjen that introduces my work as a process of deep mapping. Another is by artist, geographer, curator and researcher Nikolay Smirnov, which elaborates on a genealogy of geography rooted in the mental construct. Design: Eliane Beyer Joseph Plateau vormgevers

Over de start van dit project in Kirgizië schreef ik een blog met Bas Pedroli


The artist book Letter to a Silk Road of Marjolijn Boterenbrood was presented at several occasions: at Framer Framed in Amsterdam and at Casco, Art Institute in 2022. At Casco it was an outdoor installation/exhibition for one summer evening, as well as a presentation and discussion in the office of Casco. We walked around the installation made of components of the book, and listen to the stories by its maker Marjolijn Boterenbrood regarding the old and new Silk Roads and her pathways in and through Kyrgyzstan. Resonating with Unmapping Eurasia, Casco’s study line regarding Working for the Commons, the publication centers around the artist’s drawings over the old Soviet–atlas based on her journey towards and encounters in the country, and is made in the way of offering itself for further contribution and exchange with other fellows. This is to imagine a new alternative Silk Road over other current infrastructure projects that expand in the territory.

The presentation of the publication Letter to a Silk Road bij Framer Framed in Amsterdam was in the exhibition of For those who have no time to play van Gluklya (Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya). Met Fabienne Rachmadiev, Malika Umarova en Sandra Rottenberg. 

Tekst van Casco:

Book launch at Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons Photo: Dung Nguyen and Binna Choi