At the beginning of this project I set myself a few questions to investigate, using walking, mapping, photo documentation, and blogging as my tools. With only 10 days left in Germany, now seems like a fitting time to see if I’ve come up with any further clarity on those questions…
How do I connect with such a harsh and unfamiliar landscape?
Through time, curiosity and sensory immersion. In some ways it had to begin with a full bodily acceptance of where I am/was, something that doesn’t always come easily to me. The temporal aspect of this question is pivotal- it was only through repeatedly engaging with place that it became less harsh. Similarly, it was only through the consistent interrogation of my own identity- as a foreigner, a human, an artist, a walker, a young woman etc that I could recreate my sense of place by connecting aspects with sense of self . Both are not static, and therefore I needed to find new parts of myself that could match up with the unfamiliar experience of place.
Which aspects of self are consequently ‘dying’ or hibernating and what will rebirth in Spring?
So many factors have been incredibly challenging and pushed me over the edge, so to speak. Not knowing the language and therefore not being able to communicate with the odd villager I would see from time to time. Virtual social alienation. Restrictions on how long I could be out of doors and which activities I could engage in. These were probably the most influential. I was surprised at how quickly a relationship developed with walking and conscious engagement with the senses. It’s interesting because the old maxim says that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. This was the case in many respects, but it also made me more sensitive to myself and my surroundings as I had to ‘tune’ in and by doing so had to become quite open and vulnerable.
In general, how does this self-imposed displacement inform my understanding of place?
My understanding of connection up until this point was intellectual. This conception evolved further by nurturing an embodied understanding. By placing myself in and through the landscape while witnessing the process of feeling foreign and disconnected from this environment, to then feeling ‘at home’ highlighted that place is a relationship. It is a relationship to be formed in the physical sense as well as psychologically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually etc and in fact this physicality was for me the missing link that crystallised the concept of interconnectedness.