John Davies

San Gottardo

This essay is from the exhibition catalogue, "il San Gottardo", 1997 (ISBN 88 86455 08 9). With 7 landscape photographs and 6 installation rock frames: from the St. Gottard Mountain for Galleria Gottardo, Lugano, Switzerland, on the theme of the "heart".
I first visited the San Gottardo Mountain during April, 1997. With the mountain passes closed by frequent deposits of snow and low cloud I became interested in the interaction between the mountain and it's changing weather.
A fundamental aspect of landscape is the sense of power it can symbolise and evoke. Images of land, water and sky can become metaphors which reflect our emotional and spiritual states. But the landscape can also represent power in terms of land ownership and material wealth. It is this dual and often ambiguous representation of the metaphysical and the material in the landscape that underlies my photographic work. My work is also about observing the social transformations on the landscape and the way in which the mountain is utilised by people.
Apart from making panoramic views which document various aspects of the mountain environment I also wanted to illustrate small details of the mountain's surface. I decided to collect and show fragments from the mountain - fragments of it's rock. These samples of stone are not only physical parts of the mountain but become symbols of the mountain. The physical reality of the rock removed from it's original context (and placed along side photographs of a landscape where the rocks originated) can give us a detachment where we can reflect on the material and the metaphysical - at the same time this juxtaposition can play with our concepts of what is illusion and what is reality.
John Davies June 1997
A numbered edition of 6 - 50x40cm (20x16in) prints are available contact galleries
other essays:
Rural Transitions (France)
The River and the City - Florence
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Photo and material Copyright John Davies 1976-2011