In 2017 I started the project, The importance of wandering. The project is inspired by topographical panorama photography from the late 19th century and early 20th century and the paintings and etchings of the 17th century Dutch artist Hercules Seegers. In this project my involvement with political, environmental or social developments in the world comes to the fore in a less direct way than in many of my previous works. More open and more like a subcutaneous 'uncanny' feeling. With The importance of wandering I want to reflect on the lack of moral compass I see around me. And to explore the boundaries between 'wandering' and 'losing your way'... a 'no man's land' in which you can reconsider your own views and gain new insights.

     The importance of wandering is a fictional journey in which I play a game with fantasy versus reality, with hope and comfort versus everyday life. It is a journey without purpose or destination. A dreamed journey through a completely fictional landscape, which could also be a imaginary journey in of your head.

     The landscape in art has always had a double meaning for me, it attracts and it repels. You can wander in it and be free, but also get lost and lose yourself. A scenic vista offers countless choices in which to continue your journey, but in all these possibilities it is also easy to get lost. Nothing is so lonely and at the same time so inviting as a mountain landscape where every peak and every valley offers a new promise.

     I searched bookstores and the internet for old books with black and white photos of mountains, to make collages out of them. As I made these new collages, I discovered that differences between shades of printing inks (cool black, warm black, sepia) and the paper on which the books were printed, contributed to the atmosphere and spaciousness of the images that emerged. Then I consciously started using this.

     I started researching dioramas and also "toy theaters," where children's plays used to be staged at home. I have had a good look at these reduced 'worlds' in various museums. It remains fascinating that people translated reality into models in this way.


     For years I had seen the mountains in the distance, on an ever-diffuse horizon. There had always been vague questions about what it would look like over there, but never before did I have the urge to really go there. I once saw the top of one of the highest mountains in a museum. Someone had climbed that mountain, cut off the tip and then sold it to the museum. Now it lay there in a display case, like a holy relic.

     I asked three friends to join me. I said, "Shall we go to the mountains to reach the top?" They thought it was a good idea because they too had seen the distant mountains for years, but had never been there. Ambitious as we were, we immediately set ourselves the highest peak as our goal. That was where we wanted to get!

     In my restless search for the right way, I was overwhelmed by doubt, because every time I approached a mountain top other peaks seemed higher to me and I suggested to change course. When we approached that other mountain top, the same thing happened to me again. I kept on looking around nervously and hesitantly and indecisively ... and that's how I lost my friends. Disagreement arose between us about the route we had to follow and we decided to separate. Later I saw them walking in the distance. Apparently, they had found the right way, because they were now far ahead of me. I shouted, "Wait for me!", but they didn't hear it ... or didn't want to hear.

     At one point I noticed that I had lost all sense of direction. Everything around me looked alike and I didn't know where I was or which way to go. At night I slept where possible, in caves or under an overhanging rock. I ate what I found, mostly mushrooms and toadstools. We had left at the end of May on a Sunday - it was beautiful weather then - but I don't know what day it is now. I only know the difference between daylight and the darkness of the night.

     When, after a long search and wandering, I finally reached a high mountain peak, I was disappointed. Was this it? There was nothing there. A big bare nothing. Nothing but snow and rock. No plant or blade of moss or other life, not even birds could be seen. The only sounds I heard were sounds I made myself, my heartbeat and breathing and the sound of my footsteps in the snow. And, moreover, the continuous sound of the wind ... but among these sounds there was an intense, deep, total silence. A silence of the kind I had never experienced before; and I suddenly felt completely futile and insignificant.

about The importance of wandering



Luuk Wilmering