Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems
'Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems' was the title of the book by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and is generally considered to mark the beginnings of the Romantic Movement in England. It was first published in 1798. It sparked the beginning of a movement in arts and literature, emphasizing emotion, inspiration, subjectivity and primacy of the individual. It is seen as a reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment.
It started in the late 18th century but had its heyday in he second part of the 19th Century, coinciding with the rise of the photographic medium. All over the world, explorers set out to discover nature and its landscapes, photography providing a way of capturing and showing what they found.
Romanticism was a reaction to the rationalism of Enlightenment and society becoming increasingly technological then. But what would the relevance of Romanticism be today? When we read the poetry, there's a sense of naivety to it that sounds a bit quirky, when we look at the photographs of the time, we feel a sense of wonder but also a strange alienation of the landscape. Maybe it's a landscape we don't know anymore? The dream and image of the unspoilt, grand, pure natural landscape is becoming rapidly a utopian projection. Still, it is exactly what the millions of escapist tourists search for when exploring the 21st century landscape. In a sense, they're looking for the same emotion, inspiration and subjectivity as the Romantic poets and explorers did in the 19th century.
This project looks at what happens if you go into the 21st century landscape with the attitude of a 19th century explorer. Photographing and looking for emotion, inspiration and most of all subjectivity. Romanticism wasn't only about the exploration but also wanted to prove that people were an integral part of nature. Somewhere along the line we seem to have forgotten this and started to dominate and exploit the natural landscape, thus alienating us from our natural environment. The almost religious search for natural authenticity that marks our 21st century indicates our longing to belong again to this environment. Our need to be part of something. And latest scientific research also points in the direction of a symbiotic, holistic, universal world where everything is connected and needs each other. In that sense, 19th Century romanticism is totally relevant again and maybe we need some of its naivety again to look at our environment with respect and admiration.
All photographs were taken in the Pyrenees, the mountain range on the border between France and Spain, that was first explored in the Romantic period (beginning 19th Century). As a consequence it was like virgin territory, perfectly suited to project the Romantic concepts of emotion and intuition onto. Hence, it was depicted as rugged, pure, impenetrable, authentic...