Fernweh was a travelling-curator project set up to investigate notions of travel and hospitality within community and socially engaged art through a hosting, visiting and travelling programme in collaboration with a series of communities and institutions across Scotland. In May 2013, Timespan hosted the second installment of the project.

The Project

Fernweh: Literally translated (from German) means ‘farsickness’ or an ’ache for the distance’. Some dictionaries also translate it into ‘wanderlust’ or ‘itchy feet’.
Antonym: Heimweh (homesickness).

Four curators with a keen interest in socially engaged art were invited to participate in the project and to each select a younger/emerging curator to participate also. Participating curators were:

  • Mary Jane Jacob, USA and Gibran Villalobos, both School of the Art Institute of Chicago, USA
  • Luiz Vergara, Director, Museo de Arte Contemporanea, MAC, Niteroi, Brazil and Jessica Gogan, MESA (Mediation, Encounters, Society and Art), Brazil/Ireland
  • Ernesto Pujol, Cuba/USA and Nuno Sacramento, Director SSW, Scotland/Portugal
  • Claudia Zeiske, Deveron Arts, Scotland/Germany and , independent curator, Glasgow/Scotland

Over a week at the start of May 2013, the curators travelled across Scotland on trains, visting four arts organisations and discussing a different issue surrounding socailly engaged practice in each location.

  • Conversation + Dialogue, Scottish Sculpture Workshop, Lumsden
  • Community + Place, Timespan, Helmsdale
  • Travel + Remoteness, ATLAS, Skye
  • Urban/Rural Dialogue, IOTA, Inverness

The project culminated in a symposium at Deveron Arts in Huntly, discussing the above themes and their relation to the wider concepts of Hospitality + Visiting.

Fernweh at Timespan

Timespan hosted the Fernweh travelling curators on May 1 2013. The curators were offered an understanding of our place through a range of activities including skiff rowing, peat cutting and following the Clearances Trail App through the Strath. Following this, there was a open dinner and discussion at Timespan where the themes of Community + Place were considered by curators and community members alike.

8 Questions for 8 Curators

the following questions served as talking points for the discussion in the gallery.

1. How can art production be ‘meaningful’ to the social, geographical and historical context of Helmsdale?

2. Placemaking –  a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Is this our responsibility? What is our role in shaping local culture?

3. How does art production differ from urban to rural/remote locations?

4. Is it fair to ask artists to respond to our place?

5. What is our responsibility towards local artists? What is our responsibility towards the local community?

6. Documenting social engagement and distributing the material is a way of myth making. Do you agree? Is the myth an outcome of a socially engaged artwork?

7. How to represent an aesthetic experience in the gallery?

8. How do socially engaged art practices and galleries fit together?


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