The horizon, my body, the wall
What happens when we can no longer see the horizon, how do we imagine a future or a past? Through much of my life this line across the landscape has been a marker and framework, both as an idea and a location. It has structured my orientation in space and time, it has been a guide, I have measured my body and experience against it.
The horizon, like both the future and the past, is an impossible place. Really just a geometric rationalisation of landscape and symbolic concept, definitely not a reachable destination, a mythical place where terrain or ocean meet sky. Even so, impossible places can become real over time. I stretch towards it and look back to it, as an anchor, a horizontal goal post, a line of uncertainty to tether myself to.
My relationship with the horizon blurred over the time of Melbourne’s lockdown. Occasionally I climbed a favourite hill to catch a glimpse, but the horizontality, breadth and span were replaced and reinforced with the short-sighted vertical planes of the walls of my home and garden. Without the experience of distance and a daily rhythmic traversal of space, my world became my body and my home, Illuminated, in hyper-focus, close up and in slow motion. The wall became the un-distant distance and my body in all its soft fragility pushed up against it.
Home, always confusing, always contested and another impossible place. I had been forced to trade the unreachable but anchoring horizon for home’s impossibility. Body, also a problematic sight, messy, squishy, fallible, soft and hard, a small city of unknown but known entities. Both home and body share a collection of attributes and behaviours, fragile and impermanent, strong and fortified, articulated by boundaries and contours, each are vessels and containers that provide shelter and facilitate life.
What home means became a key point of discussion amongst friends over lockdown. For many of us in childhood home was both safe and unsafe, domestic spaces charged with combinations of love, wholesomeness and horror. Or a place still never found, an idea that takes on fabled properties, a dream-space located in a future. We learnt through our experiences and discussions that home is not a singular place, it can be many, an amalgamation and flux of multiple experiences, gestures, memories and people constellated through space and time. i And, that belonging is an action that fortifies identity through repetition and reoccurrence.
Home as house and house as container. Somewhat counter-intuitively, containment as a form of protection can lead to a sense of dissolving. I thought a lot about how experiences of space and distance enable us to remain solid, in both a physical and psychological sense. Without movement and interaction through expanded ecologies, purpose and meaning can slip away.
Isolation can lead to a dissolution of boundaries and a dislocation from this expanded sense of home and community. I spent time pushing up against the wall to test my realness and explore our respective structures, intersections, thresholds and boundaries. With no horizon to intercept my vision and no space to negotiate with my body, I felt indivisible from the architecture of my house. The perimeters of who and what I am blurred in the short-sighted distance. I dreamt of portals, but daylight only rendered blind spots. Laying on the floor I would squint my eyes to try and transform my view and allow the verticality of the wall to reshape into the horizontality of distance.
These photographs and collages document and communicate something of my relationship to the structure of my home and body in regard to these ideas during the period of lockdown in Melbourne this year.
Rebecca de Lange, 2020
i These ideas, regarding home envisaged as multiple spaces, were introduced to me by Jordan Wood during conversations we had in lockdown.