installation views

     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 saw the mountains in the distance, on an ever diffuse horizon. I had always vaguely wondered what might be there, but never before had I felt the urge to really explore it. I had once seen the top of the highest mountain in a museum. Someone had climbed that mountain, chopped off the top and then sold it to the museum … now it lay there in a display case, like a holy relic.

I asked three friends to come with me, I said, "Shall we go to the mountains to reach the top?" They thought that was a great plan, because they had also seen the mountains in the distance for years, but had never been there. Ambitious as we were, we immediately set ourselves the target of the highest peak, that's where we wanted to go!

In my restless search for the right path, however, I was overcome with doubt … because every time I approached a mountain peak, other peaks seemed higher to me and then I proposed to change course. As we approached that other mountain top the same thing happened to me again. So, I kept looking around nervously and hesitantly and indecisively ... and that's how I lost my friends. There was a disagreement between us about which route to take and we decided to part ways. Later I saw them walking in the distance. Apparently, they had found the right path, 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 it.

At one point I noticed that I had lost all sense of direction. Everything around me was similar and interchangeable and I didn't know where I was or which way to go. At night I slept where possible, in a cave or under the shelter of an overhanging rock.

We had left on a Sunday at the end of May, the weather was beautiful then, but I can't remember what day or month it is now ... I only know the difference between day and night.

When I finally reached a high mountain peak, after long searching and wandering, I was disappointed. Was this it? Was this what I had been looking for? There was nothing there. A big bare nothing. Nothing but snow and rock. Not a single plant or blade of moss or other life ... not even birds. The only sounds I heard were the ones I made myself, my heartbeat and my breathing and the sound of my footsteps in the snow, and above that the continuous sound of the wind ... but beneath these sounds there was an intensely deep silence. A silence of the kind I had never experienced before and it suddenly made me feel completely redundant and insignificant.

about The importance of wandering



Luuk Wilmering