Home as a state of mind #4: Batia Suter

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Suter’s longing for the Swiss landscape inspired the girl to create Hexamiles: a project that invites  us on a public walk towards a different upcoming

For centuries, humans have blindly implemented a call to dominate and subdue the Earth. At this point, as we sit on the cusp of cataclysmic climate modify, it is crucial for humanity in order to reframe our relationship using the natural world. Denial has rendered us strangers in our own land.  

Within Hexamiles (Mont-Voisin), published by Roma in 2019, Batia Suter draws on her ever-expanding archive of scanned scenery and invites us on a communal walk towards an alternative future. She disrupts the perception of home via a collision of majesty plus disorientation, triggering urgent reflections on the impact of strength, memory and belonging on earth.

“There are many interesting sides when dealing with the scenery, ” the Amsterdam-based designer says. “It’s both about home and the unknown. It is those moments when you feel lost in the landscape as well as the vast emotions you can have through belonging to fear. ” 

Suter has been collecting images from the land for years – a job that is rooted in opportunity encounters. She favours “lost books”, publications that have been left on the street or live in messy boxes in flea markets. The photographs, which range from different eras, intentions, technologies and modes of reproduction, include a rich history loaded with concealed reverence. “They all possess different souls, ” Suter says. “I think about pictures as monuments in our lifestyle that mix with our memory space. ”

The title, Hexamiles , refers to the term ‘hexameter’, a form of composing where a line of verse consists of six ‘accents’ or ‘pulses’ as used in Homer’s Odyssey. In this way, Suter sequences images of disparate landscapes. Derelict wastelands and wild woodlands sit amongst epic hills and seascapes, shifting involving the romantic and the menacing.  

Suter also creates “impossible landscapes”, layering geological and biological environments to transport us to another realm. “I love to imitate the dream, and I was very curious what they could trigger. In A language like german, we call it ‘fernweh’, a good ache or pain to explore another land. ”

As the project considers multiple entry points, Suter’s longing for the Swiss landscape, her home country, is what inspired her. “I miss the physicality of the place, ” she clarifies. “I miss the stones, the mountains, the sturdiness. ” This emotional impulse, a primal response to the way land imprints on every element of our consciousness, conjures a haunting presence throughout the task, revealing our precarious symbiotic coexistence with our planet.

Gem Fletcher

Innovative director, writer, podcaster and photo director, Gem Fletcher works across visual-cultural fields, focusing on emerging talent in contemporary photography and artwork. She is the photo director of Riposte Magazine, and hosts a photography podcasting, The Messy Truth.

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