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Санкт-Петербург, Ковенский переулок 14

February 5, 2019
laura isachenko


fEBRUARY 5, 2019


Recently Out Cinema hosted a screening of the documentary "The Path to the East", dedicated to the journey of young French artists traveling to Europe in search of new impressions, experiences and acquaintances with creative people from different countries. Our friend Laura Isachenko talked with Tao Astier - the main character and ideological inspirer of the picture - about the impressions from the trip and Russia as a whole, about future plans and projects.
French artist Tao Astier, who covered the distance from Rennes to St. Petersburg on a skateboard.
How did the idea of the movie first appear?
The idea of the movie appear after the idea of the project itself. I first had the idea of doing this project alone. One night, two dudes asked me what i was up to next, then i explain them the story of the next adventure to Russia. We met few weeks later by hasard and we introducing the idea of a camera team following the project to produce an artistic documantary.
Was it a collective decision or did you initiate it yourself?
I initiate the all project. Those guys were working on some little movie montage and wanted to do more over, we put on the table the idea of doing something toghether, filming this travel and experimente the camera fact with artistic performances.
What was the most challenging part for you as an artist?
As an artist the most challenging part is to make yourself undestand when you have to work with others and with tottaly different roles. Control eveything was a bigger problem than manage to paint in the middle of nowhere after a day of skating without shades and not much water. Sometime it was hard to keep the thread.
Is there any moral message in the movie?
This, is to everyone to discover is own message. I did it for some reasons which are mine, i'm not doing things to give people lessons, but if with my doings poeple get a though, a feeling, a bad or good point of view, it's an honnor for me. The movie i guess try to share the poetry of that, of the people, of sharing. Any point of view is good to have, at least once, to make it change again and again, always on the way to find the most peaceful and wise way of going on your own path.
How do you look back on this period of time that you've spent filming and traveling?
It still strange to think about it, to show the movie and talk about what it was. I can't transcribe what deeply it has been. So many things sprut out, so many inner and ousider discovering. It was for sure one of the most important move i make, it was a good thing and i'm really greatful for all the people i met, they gimme so much.
Have you ever seen it as an act of escapism?
I've never see it as an act of escapism or whaterverelse, i was at my place more than ever by doing this. Being on the road is my way of livin'. There is a real meaning for me in this project. I'm not waving any flag. Only sharing, be free, learing and find happyness seems more importante to me to make things change and to let your voice be heard.
If you could go back to the beginning of the project is there something you would do differently?
I would change nothing, even if some points was terribly bad. Because i believe that things happen in a way, and we have to learn from it, change for the present what we've done wrong in the past. Past don't have to be changed, persections have to.
Are there any movies that inspired you to make this one?
No, my insprition is only from each things around me at the moment i'm doing art, i am not planning to much things, i just do, even if all the thing we can see influence us, i try to stay neutral.
Any filmmakers you feel you can relate to?
No, my culture on this domain is to poor, and my inspiration is come from outside, from what i can observe, i'm working tottaly intuitivly.
The film gets really poetic in some parts. Did you have any particular playlist you've been listening to during your travels to set your mood and mind?
Sure, music was with me almost all the time. I've listening a lot of traditional gypsy songs, like Loyko or Les Yeux Noirs Irish music with the Dubliners, «the champion at keep them rolling» was like my morning song Left laine cruiser, «Mister Johnson» inspired me a performance i've done in Berlin, i was skating along fields for fews days, and this music appeared in my ears and gimme a evil rhytm on the board, the feeling was crazy, the notes feated so well with the body on the wind. «The road is my religion» of Ashton Gwyn «Valley of hate» of Just luv, for the melancholy The Album «Fuzz» from the band named Fuzz, appropriate for all crazy skaters mind Rory Gallager the great Tinariwen, a band from Sahara, who dicided to use music to fight instied of machete and guns, but this is not the point, those guys are making an extraordinary blues mixed with traditional Touareg music. One of my favorite is «Aghregh Medin» «You wanted darker» Leonard Cohen «Cold cold ground» Tom Waits «L'Idole» Jacques Dutronc All them witches «Time» Ty Segall and White Fence «No good woman», «Brain cycles» Radio Moscow «Moby dick» Led zepplin «don't talk about freedome» The gang of Harry Roesli «Baby they is no time» Feng Suave And so much more….
Do you think there is any difference between young people around the world or are we pretty much haunted by the same fears and hopes?
Well, all depends from what side we looking at ; In a general way, yes we're all the same, fearing our own doings and hoping that life will be not too rude with us. But if we dig for more details, there is a lot of differences between ouest and east european peoples : our respective story make us focus on some different parts, a good exemple is with young Balticans peoples and French ones. In the Baltics what everyone wants it's to open themselves to the outside, grow, exchange… in France young dudes fight to know if the country should let more people get in or not, if French culture should stop to open or if it is the nature of this part of the world since long time. An other exemple could be between Russia and Nederland, Germany, France, with the priority like, ecologie which is not the maine problem in mind in Russia. In the Ouest Europe, everybody blowing your mine with blahblah untrue ecological manners. The gouvernement annoying us with rules that should be given to the industries and so on. This could look benign but, we have so many stupid rules which burnout so many brain, when i walk or drive in Russia i feel a way more free, it's hard to explain for people how never came in France.
Did you know anything about Russia before coming?
What i knew was from university where i were learning Russian [ language, civilation, history, littérature and so on ] and from what people can tell or what you can see on internet. So i would say that i knew nothing, even if for few years, i search, learn and ask questions, i realise, once in Russia that most of everything i heard was bullshit.
Did you have any expectations ?
I was accualy expected less big shopping center, and less of this kind of occidental hell. I was also expecting a different weather, more cold, even in a summer time, and more freaky army guys all around as we all fakely learn in my country, i saw cops and soldiers but not much than in other countries.
What surprised you the most in Saint Petersburg?
Very clean streets, like in the Baltics, cities in France are dirty as fuck next to it. And also i drink almost no vodka, you surely no about this stereotype, so when i ask after few days to my Russian friends where the hell was the vodka, they asking to forget about it and drink bourbon. I have seen vodka everywhere of course, but i didn't see people, at least young people in bars drinking it so much. And i really remember the big contrast between cars, the rich one and the other where a wood chair could replace the car seat. And of course, the sweetness of the Russian peoples and particulary how much gentle the guys are with ladies, absolutly nothin' to do with french man, they tottaly forget what open a door for a lady mean.
Did you feel the melancholic vibes in the city?
Yes, but to be honnest, i heard about this few times in Russia, but as i know, it's the same in all cities in the world, Paris, Lyon, Agadir in morocco, Munster in Germany, London… I don't know people are bored most of the time, i agree that in Russia this feeling is something you can easily see, maybe more than in other places, i don't really know…
What did you like and dislike about St Petersburg or Russia in general?
What i don't like in Russia is that it's alway prett hard and exensive for me to get in, and people repeting to not stay because life should be better outside. I'm dying to go to siberia, for now i can't really talk about Russia, i only know St P, Moscow, Pouchkine and the road between those cities. I like people in Russia, they speak straight, there have stuff to say, they think in a pretty interesting way. I see in Russians a kind of truth, a deep soul, sometime tortured, but still true, very powerful. I love the language, the faces, the kindness, the way of communicate, the strenght of the friendships…
During the long period of filming did you ever get a feeling that this was all wrong and you didn't know whether you were doing the right thing or maybe just wasting your time… When you feel insecure and experience doubts what makes you keep going?
What i doubt the most was to stay with the filming team or continue my road alone. I also doubt once in Lativa, did i have to go further ? Did i already found what i was looking for ? Did i'm going in the right way ? But all those questions was immediatly replaced by the wish to reach Russia, to learn from my own eyes and to keep my word to go to the end.
What are you up to now? Do you have any upcoming projects or plans?
Now i am in Bretagne, carry on my leg that i heart bad in skate in Moscow in september 2018 after the championship. And in March i will start to sail, my next project is on the sea, i will spend the next year to learn to navigate on sailboat and then sail round the world. Skate somme islands, meet place and people by reaching them from the oceans and once more look forword for new points of view, for new feelings, facing a new element and share experiences.

Instagram Тао: instagram.com/tao_indra/
Interview prepared by Laura Isachenko
Editor: Lena Сherezova.
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