Traditionally we understand the term ‘ruthless’ as being without pity or compassion; a lack of care for the feelings of others. Many years ago I was introduced to another , less loaded, connotation. That being to do what needed doing quickly and effectively without any prevarication, self doubt or any self indulgent angst. It presupposed of course that the act was indeed necessary.
The Dutch have a word for it…. Landschapspijn — literally “landscape-pain”, “place-pain” (Dutch); the distress that comes from seeing familiar habitats or ecosystems degraded and depleted. This popped up on Twitter as Rob Macfarlane’s Word of the Day last week. (If you don’t follow, Rob, you should.) There is a painful symmetry here as it was also the Dutch who gave landscape photographers and painters the word ‘Landscape’. They named the beginning and foresaw the end of what we do. I’ve written before (here) about our responsibility to minimise the damage that we ourselves cause. Those arguments don’t need to be repeated here. Last week a number of interrelated events coincided.
I enjoy creating intimate landscapes immensely, those small scenes that comprise found objects and arrangements. The better the end product however, the more likely it is to precipitate the range of questions to do with asking or suggesting that the items had been placed or rearranged. The questions range from pure inquisitiveness to peevishness and those that are no less than accusatory and derogatory by implication.