On October 27, 1925, the German-language poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who settled in Valais, Switzerland, wrote in his will to Nanny Wunderly-Volkart: “I should prefer to be laid to rest in the lofty churchyard of the old Church of Raron. Its enclosure was one of the first places from which I experienced the wind and light of this landscape.”
Almost a century later, Jiehao Su, just arrived in Valais, visited the grave of Rilke. Perhaps it was the spirit of Rilke which led him to abandon his original plans to show the impacts of human activities on the Alps. He eventually decided to follow his personal perceptions and explore the invisible soul of the place beyond mundane daily life. Details of nature, everyday situations, and symbols of historical memories and cultural Valais form a kind of trilogy, an overview that reveals the spirit of the region.
This project includes some 20 photographs, a video recording, and over a dozen emails the artist selected from his extensive correspondence with Sarah in Switzerland. These specially selected texts on daily topics and the accompanying images, detached from their original communicative contexts, are beautiful and poetic renderings of everyday language. The temporal, dialogic, and subjective dimensions of these emails resonate with the artist’s visual language and Rilke’s poems, forming a delicate web of intertextuality, through which, Jiehao Su aims to seek a coherent sense of place beyond the visible and the present moment.