While British artist Tacita Dean is most widely known for her work in 16mm film she also persues projects using photo collage and photogravure. Her image “Fernweh” from 2009 is a 2.3 by 5 meter piece created from four 19th century photographs and postcards found at various flea markets in Europe.
According to Dean, the term “Fernweh” is a German term for the antonym of homesickness, “an act for a distant past”. The idea of wanting to leave home, to relocate but maybe not knowing where to go or how to get (back) there.
Tacita’s image is a composition of longing, remembering and honouring.
“Fernweh is an improbable landscape made of cliffs, forest and dunes. I created it from four small discoloured nineteenth century photographs that I found in flea markets some time ago. The craggy horizon is a famous outcrop, called Sächsische Schweiz – Saxony’s Switzerland, which is near Dresden. The foreground is unknown sand and scrub. Finding a path amongst the vegetation and boulders of the photographic distortions, I imagined Goethe’s voyage to Italy, particularly his parcours south of Rome on his way to Naples. ‘Fernweh’ is discontinued parlance for a longing to travel, an aching to get away. Different, I imagine, from ‘Wanderlust’, which is a more spirited desire to be in the landscape. It is the etymological opposite of the German word, ‘Heimweh’, which means homesickness. We do not have a single word in English for this more considered desire to be gone. This work should be approached through its title.”