Times like these call for cutting back. Maybe you don’t dine out as often; maybe you’ve skipped making a credit card payment. Or maybe, you’ve had to postpone that trip you’ve been dying to take. While Italy will still be here when the economic crisisÂ subsides (we hope), there’s no need to deprive yourself of its culture. While you’re at it, you can check out Germany, Morocco, and Tibet, too.
Border Hopping, which launched yesterday,Â is a collective effort to capture the beauty of foreign countries;Â constructedÂ by the people who haveÂ experienced them. Through photography and writing; these citizens of the world bring a unique taste of distant lands to your computer screen.
Â I had a chance to sit down with Jacqueline Colozzi, who conceptualized Border Hopping:
TLS: What inspired you to start Border Hopping?
JC: There is an actual time and place to mark the inspiration. Well, two times and places. First: I was in the Casablanca Tea Room in SoHo with some friends, and although we had never been to the real city, we all felt tremendously transported by the venue’s decor and atmosphere. Suddenly I had this vision of a city guide dedicated only to “border hopping” locales – where to find authentic foreign food, cafes that will make you feel like you are in Paris, how to dress tip-to-toe in Indian garbs straight from India. Of course, the Tea Room is nothing like the real Casablanca, I later found out (more like a vintage Hollywood vision) – but the idea, that was real. Second: I was sitting at a table having Illy with some new and very creative friends I met studying in Florence. Living in Florence had the effect of artistically reawakening me – I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush or written creatively in years – and as we discussed plans for starting a photography club, I suggested using this Border Hopping website I had already started as an outlet for our photos. And thus I decided to refocus the project into a website devoted to photography and writing. Fine art, video, music and other media will be coming along later.
TLS: What does Border Hopping offer its readers?
JC: I like to call it “traveling on a budget”. Since we can’t always afford the time or expense to travel, Border Hopping is there to provide a digital form of escape – similar to what National Geographic and Conde Nast have been doing for generations. What is different about Border Hopping is that it is entirely web-based, so there is the built-in ability to search through the archive based on the precise places or subjects you want to read about. As we gather more content, this capability will of course get better and better. For now we just have what we have.
TLS: You have several contributors. What do each of them represent?
JC: For this launch, we have a neat group of contributing artists stretching from local NYC-based photographers and writers to individuals all the way out in Singapore, the Netherlands and Thailand. And all with vastly different styles – from the very specific photography niche of sepia film botanicals to the more avant garde and urban; from raw journal note taking to heart-wrenching poetry. Not all of our contributors are professionals, and we don’t want them to be – to have natural photos and writing accounts, the sort you would snap or scribble while on your own vacation – this just adds to the authenticity. So there is a mixture of high brow and low brow, and I think that paints a more accurate picture of the world.
TLS: What sorts of submissions does Border Hopping accept?
JC: We are really open to anything. Currently the website only supports writing and photography, but once we take it to the next level of functionality, music and video will be added. Fine art and venue reviews will also be added as soon as we have enough content. And there are no rules or guidelines when it comes to content. Authenticity is really the key word, when it comes to both the borders and to the artist. I believe that honest work always speaks for itself.
TLS: What do you hope the site will become once users gain more opportunities to become interactive?
JC: There isn’t an overall solidified goal, just several ideas for the future currently being batted around – e.g. printable city guides, print books or zines, content licensing and other methods of compensating the artists. And finding ways to compensate the artists is the first goal on my plate. I love how the site is currently simple, clean and gallery-style; the focus is on the content. But incorporating some kind of social network will probably be on the horizon at some point, and I’m certainly open to the possibility. Right now I’m just trying to take it one day at a time. One new batch of photos, one new article. I guess I will see how it goes, and what people are thinking, feeling, wanting. Border Hopping will ultimately be shaped by the needs and wants of the viewers and artists, since they are the travelers after all.