Beyond Bestimmung continues my exploration of the environment as a complex site of personal, political and cultural identification, while also existing as a site of reverie and inspiration. Many encounters with the landscape oppose clear articulation, words can only hint at the profound engagement between a person and the natural environment. These works allude to instances that provoke an uncanny sense of place, a shared history and deep connection. The title Beyond Bestimmung draws on the Kantian notion of pre-determination, where an encounter of the sublime becomes an ethical imperative.
As a child, I spent extended summer holidays living with my grandparents in Rogaland on the southwest coast of Norway. They would often take me on road trips in this ancient landscape filled with misty valleys and large rock formations. There was a sense that this environment allowed for a momentarily escape from their grief of loosing their only child. The melancholy that lives in these landscapes has followed me around the world, and manifests itself as a comforting, non-specific geographical identity – a moment of intimacy that allows for a sense of place to linger in a new landscape.
Ellen Dahl is a Sydney based, Norwegian born artist working across photography, video, sound and installation. She completed her MFA by research at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney in 2015. She has recently exhibited at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery, Centre for Contemporary Photography Melbourne, Perth Centre for Photography and Kings Artist Run Melbourne. Often with the landscape as an entry point, her practice traces the intersection of memory and identity with a physical, political or psychological sense of place.
Cover Image: Courtesy of the artist