“La tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté

Luxe calme et volupté”

L’invitation au Voyage - Charles Baudelaire

I know very well the constructions involved in travel photography, and the false surface sheen of the exotic, and yet the dust of other roads still glistens for me. I’ve seen a temporary play of light on stone turning a footpath into a mystery and I also know the power of those instances to obliterate context. I understand the lie and yet I still search for that imagined place- the place of happiness, the holy day, the holiday, which often seems further away the closer one gets to it.

There’s a line from Chris Marker’s film Sans Soleil where the narrator Sandor Krasna admits that “I’ve been around the world several times and now only banality still interests me”. Under the current deluge of images perhaps all postcard sites have now become banal- an extension of work, a duty of tourism. Then again perhaps they were always banal in comparison to how they are imagined, betrayed by the power of their own iconography.

Parallel to the desire to travel to imagined places is the impulse to capture beauty and hold onto it, to keep it for darker days, to prove that it existed and that for a moment an ordinary life was illuminated. John Ruskin believed that the only way to truly possess beauty was to understand it, and that the wonder of the world will reveal itself on close inspection. Beauty is becoming more difficult to sift out from the context of mass tourism and perhaps an embrace of the everyday in the midst of the exotic provides some answers.These images are the early stages of a project on these themes, an alternative travel diary, a love letter to the ideal of the south, to the dream of “luxe, calme et volupté” but also the spaces in between.

AMC 2019

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