New Fernweh exhibition at Glasmuseum Lette celebrates ‘wanderlust’
Germany’s Glasmuseum Lette is launching a new exhibition on 8 January 2022, entitled ‘Fernweh’. The term Fernweh means ‘wanderlust’, representing a strong longing to leave familiar surroundings and set off into the big wide world.
However, getting away has become complicated during the coronavirus pandemic, with all the travel restrictions, entry rules and quarantine regulations. Those who have travelled over the past two years have usually chosen destinations closer to home. So, the museum feels the sense of Fernweh is undiminished!
As a result, Fernweh has inspired the creation of a new exhibition, with works selected from the collection of the Ernsting Foundation. A wide range of different sculptures, objects, vessels and wall installations have been chosen, with each, sometimes whimsically, sometimes more thoughtfully, alluding to other countries and cultures and evokes associations with Fernweh. The exhibition aims to be an enjoyable journey to worlds both near and far.
Even before the term Fernweh became common, people experienced the painful longing for far-off places. Goethe, for example, paraphrased it in 1822 as a ‘feeling of flight’, a ‘longing for far-off places’ and ‘reverse homesickness’. With the concept of the ‘blue flower’, Romantic literature created a concrete symbol for this yearning, for the search for the unattainable and the infinite.
The word Fernweh first appeared in literature around 1835, in a travel account by the famous writer and landscape architect Hermann Prince of Pückler-Muskau. He wrote that he “never suffers from homesickness (Heimweh) but rather from Fernweh”.
In the twentieth century, the tourism industry seized on the concept, using targeted advertising with enticing images of tourist destinations around the world. It has thus become important to the international economy.
But Fernweh is not just about the urge to travel, as science has discovered. It may simply reflect the desire for a change of scenery or some variety and colour in an otherwise grey day-to-day life. Some may feel a diffuse restlessness, while others are unhappy and depressed. Travel promises an escape but, when it is not possible, books, the theatre or museum exhibitions offer the promise of fantasy worlds. Therefore scientists refer to Fernweh as an important ‘cultural technique for staying at home’.
The Fernweh exhibition opens at 14.00 on 8 January 2022. Address: Glasmuseum Lette, Letter Berg 38, D-48653 Coesfeld, Germany. Website: http://www.glasmuseum-lette.de/en/
In accordance with current regulations in the State of North-Rhine Westphalia, the 2G or 2G+ rule applies at the Glasmuseum and Glasdepot (2G: admission only with proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or recovery, 2G+: a negative PCR test is also required).
Image: One of the artworks showing at the Fernweh exhibition, ‘The perimeter of air’ (2014), by Vittoria Parrinello. Photo by the artist.