Tacita Dean

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.

Fernweh, 2009, Tacita Dean

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.

Study for Fernweh, 2008, Tacita Dean.

“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.”

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