'The Eternal Traveller Syndrome is the process of returning to one's home culture after an extended period away, and experiencing difficulty in readjusting to an environment previously familiar.'
Our experience of travel is arguably as much as much about exploring the effects this transition has on ourselves as it is about the places we go. We may spend a couple of days, a few weeks, or years in different places, and every time we pick up and go somewhere else, we take a bit of that place with us, and any of the places before.
Interview Room 11, located in the heart of Edinburgh, is currently showing The Eternal Traveller Syndrome, which seeks to analyze 'different strategies to place ourselves in our context, to reconcile who we have been and who we have become.' Entirely photography- and film-based, this exhibition showcases artists who reflect on their personal experiences living in multiple places, the impact it had on them especially over time, their relationships with people, or the inevitable change in their relationship to the place they called home--whether or not they now see it that way.
The photography and documentary format of this work, and the theme of movement, travel, and even 'settling down,' reminded me immediately of the immense impact of social media on our travel experiences today. Online photography and social platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, or VSCOGrid make it easy for everyone, no matter where, to share their everyday experiences with friends and the world. As an American living in Edinburgh, and incidentally one who uses Instagram and other social networks often, the photographic medium immediately connected me to a familiar feeling of movement and transition, as well as the impulse to capture and connect with the place that I am through photography.
I was particularly taken by the intense, enigmatic images of Damián Ucieda, a series of photographs by Carolina Cruz Guimarey called L'attente (Waiting), 2013, and another series by Igor Termenón entitled I Used To Live Here, 2009-11. They all address one's being-in-the-world in different ways, the contemplation (both our own contemplation of the subjects in different places, and the apparent contemplation of the figures themselves) of standing still for a moment within the larger scheme of constant moving around. There is a clear sense of aloneness in some of these works. Beneath the entire exhibition runs an undercurrent of isolation, wherein the effects of travel and movement, or the return to a once-familiar place is something that only the traveler experiences, while no one else can understand without having experienced it themselves.
The video installations of Ana Gallardo, particularly My uncle Eduardo, 2006, touches on this as well. The piece consists of a video showing the artist's 78-year old uncle who helped plan a trip which he ended up not going on, but in the end watched projected film footage of the trip in his own home. Another video work by Suso Fandiño entitled Ephemeral Landscape, 2013 (above) incorporates a familiar scene to anyone who has traveled by train and found themselves staring out the window at the changing scenery, complete with starts and stops and the voice on the overhead speaker.
The Eternal Traveller Syndrome is on at Interview Room 11 through 26 April. Interview Room 11 is a new collaborative artist-run gallery in Edinburgh, opened in 2013, located at 38 Castle Terrace.