In the 14th century, the Italian writer and humanist Petrarch climbed Mont Ventoux. This period is characterized as a turning point between the old (religious) and the new (humanistic) world. The letter in which he recorded his experiences would have great significance in how we view the country. The reorientation and curiosity for a broader environment arose from dissatisfaction with the confined (religious) space.
Petrarch’s letter urged me to climb and photograph the mountain myself.
The medieval spirit focused on introspection and private space. Reaching a mountain top and looking out over the world is a whole new step towards discovering land and landscape. Once at the top, Petrarch had a moral dilemma, felt uncomfortable about his act of reaching the top ‘merely out of delight’ and find consolation in the Confessions by Augustine.
My venture however turned out to be different. During the climb it was the forests, the paths and the steep stony slopes that impressed and tired me.
But it was the unexpectedness of the descent, wandering and musing, via unruly earthly ‘materiality’, past uncanny caves through unknown seclusion, ending in darkness.
Unlike Petrarch, I did not have Augustine with me, but it was the mountain itself with its caves and darkness that made me shudder and gave me a completely different experience of space. The caves with their contradiction of protection and terrifying darkness were in great contrast to the space and light at the top of the mountain.
The purpose turned out to be mainly the descents that concluded a photographic pilgrimage.
Heemstede October 9, 2023