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The Faraway Nearby

Double-sided cyanotype print on canvas, 59x175cm.

Two photos, 120x160cm.


The Faraway Nearby is a work about Fernweh, the yearning for faraway places. Fernweh is often translated as wanderlust but it doesn’t capture its essence in full: Wanderlust has generally positive connotations, like dreaming of faraway places, while German ‘weh‘ means pain. Fernweh inhabits both positive and negative qualities. It’s curiosity in and a need to connect with the other, the remote or the wild, as well as a rejection of the familiar, the close-by and control. One doesn’t exist without the other.

Conceived during the first lockdown, I wanted to create a piece that reflected my desire to be in a remote landscape. Panoramic in format and blue in colour like unattainable distant mountains, I intended to install it in my ‘wilderness’ garden that had become my retreat, a substitute for ‘real’ nature, in which I could momentarily forget that I was locked in a city. Exposing the canvas in my garden, I tried to capture elusive light and shade patterns. Naturally, things didn’t go quite as I imagined the first time around and I ended up using both sides of the canvas. However, its double-sidedness speaks of the duality of Fernweh and finding substitutes in times of need but also of our ambiguous relationship with nature that we tame in our gardens and parks but want lush and wild elsewhere.

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