100 Works of Art: (Visual) IS.Akureyri 10.03.05, Adam Jeppesen

For details on what this series involves, please see the first post.

5. IS.Akureyri 10.03.05, Adam Jeppesen

This photograph comes from a rather beautiful book I bought in Magma on Longacre in central London, and which I bought pretty much by accident, or rather on a whim. The 100 Works of Art (Visual) section may give the impression that I tend to find the things I love by falling over them, and this is largely accurate. I do also find things by having them thrown at me by friends shouting “YOU WILL LOVE THIS, DELILAH!”, but Wake, the book which contains this photograph, is one of the beautiful accidents.

IS.Akureyri 10.03.05, Adam Jeppesen
IS.Akureyri 10.03.05 by Adam Jeppesen

The rest of the book is also fascinating, with a particularly haunting shot of tire marks on a headlights-lit patch of snow hinting at some terrible accident, and an aerial shot of a car park in Roskilde evoking for me at least (as someone who was involved and interested in alternative musical festivals at the time) the events of the eponymous 2000 festival at which nine people died in a crowd. Especially alarming to me at least as the following summer I nearly ended up joining them in a similar manner (bad crowd management at Reading Festival 2001: oh boy was there ever).

The reason that this photograph of all the strange and haunting shots in this “monograph” struck me is also quite personal, which is what I believe all reactions to art should be in some way.

I grew up in a number of places, but after some fairly mobile early years (Nottingham, Frome, Plymouth, and a smattering of places in Sabarkantha district, Gujarat) we settled in West Devon, and in order to get anywhere usually took a train out of Plymouth, leaving the car there. This meant that on the way back, getting home involved driving away from the meagre city lights of a small city widely regarded as a post-apocalyptic hell-hole by touring comedians and bands, and into the pitch black of unlit moorlands. For various reasons this really never set well with me as a child, and if you’ve ever had an apparently suicidal sheep try to fling itself in front of your eggshell-fragile and freezing-cold Citroen Diane you will understand why streetlights are wonderful and so are fences.

The lights of the city would disappear from the horizon like a great glowing jellyfish on the surface of some dark sea, and I would be swallowed by the moors for a few miles.

Now I live in London, and have done for more than a decade. Few things say “home” to me quite as much as seeing the whole vast configuration of city lights growing ever-larger in the shrinking distance. It is the most welcoming thing I can think of in the glowering dark; even flying into Seattle, a city I had never visited before, after an unconscionably long time travelling in the winter dark, seeing the lights come up below me gave me the most primitive feeling of relief. I am sure it relates somehow to campfires and the safety of the tribe, and that is just fine.

This photograph brings back all those warm, fuzzy feelings of homecoming: it says “you have been on a long and exhausting journey, but the end is in sight. Here is the light, the lights at the end of the seemingly relentless tunnel, and they are the lights of home. You don’t have far to go now”.

A homage to this shot also makes up the cover of Pass the Parcel.

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