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Projected Fantasies: The viewer and the landscape

(Written 11 May 2006)

Returned, Hampstead Heath, Matts Laderstam, 1997. photo: Per Huttner

Leisure and associates anxiously await the results of Susannah Wesley’s research on the subject of leisure and landscape. In this twenty page paper Susannah will explore the site of the painted landscape as a repository for shifting subjective readings and projected fantasies of the viewer.

By looking at the work of contemporary artists Matts Laderstam and Peter Doig – artists whose practices differ greatly, but who both provide a space within the genre of landscape to challenge, manipulate, and explore the role of the subject as viewer and the suggestion of obscured or projected narratives/fantasies within the work – this essay will contextualise and contrast their practices against the historical role of landscape in relation to its viewer. Specifically, the ambiguous role of fantasy and leisure narratives as a factor in reading landscape from its inception through its history – from depicting the land and leisure sports of wealthy patricians, to the Romantic thrill and exoticism of the Grand Tour and Colonial Imperialism. As externalised in the work of Matts Laderstam and internalised in the work of Peter Doig – the viewers’ conventional perception is challenged – readings of landscape as a pure and simple place of beauty, escape, and leisure are made ambiguous and uncertain.

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