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The Verdure (Vegetation) Tour 2009

Two men embark attempt to run their own printing press out of the back of a Peugeot.

Pierre Fisher and Justin Meekel could have spent the summer drinking cheap wine, playing pétanques and attempting to swim in the Seine, like any respectable French native.

But the 20-something artists had something else in mind. They came across a 1960s guide book called Le Guide de la France Mystérieuse (The Guide of Mysterious France) which listed odd, unknown places all over the country and it inspired them to do something utterly unique during the summer months. Deciding to update and create their own map of mystery they researched bizarre corners all over the country – small villages, communities, suburbs with unpronounceable names.

They got hold of an old Peugeot in which they installed a hand-made printing press, along with a computer, scanner, paper cutter and a giant stapler. Then, with a little financing from STartE, a curatorial association that sponsors young artists, they set off on what they call their “Verdure Tour 2009” (Vegetation Tour 2009). The aim was simple – stop at each "place of mystery", meet locals, and then create and print small guide books for every location. The 16-page booklets, printed in a 100 copies, were distributed throughout their journey.

“We organised this adventure like a rock tour, because we are in a constant position of discovery and simultaneous production," Pierre explained.

The tour started in July and is to last for a month. The aim was to survive on as little money as possible. “It’s a challenge," says Pierre. “I don’t even have a driver’s licence.”

The boys have rapidly gained a following – art schools in different parts of France, have allowed them to use supplies in exchange for a few copies of the guides. “Production costs turned out to be more than expected – ink, paper…cigarettes," says Pierre. “It’s a realisation of how much we take for granted, how much we rely on.”

Throughout their trip, the boys have come across spooky, funny and puzzling discoveries – from Le Musée du Tire-Bouchon (The Cork Screw Museum), to slightly frightening Stonehenge-like rocks in the middle of the countryside. Aside from the comical aspect of the findings, this has almost become an anthropological quest."It is a quest into the unknown," says PiIerre. "The philosophy, or rather, the drive behind our project is simple, as Jean Dubuffet (founder of the Art Brut movement) once said, ‘A man of culture is as far from the artist as a historian is from a man of action.’”

Check out one of the guides here: De la France Mysterieuse - Bezu-la-Foret & Pont-Audemer.