Imrama* is an Irish word. Originally, it means traveling around, not on land or by air, but by sea. Imrama is traveling from the shore to an island, and back – departure and return: a navigatio. Historically, Irish monks, scholars of their time, were known to undertake such trips. The intent: a lesson in awareness, given by the signs of the exceptional, primarily meant to gain insight in their own times and surroundings (geographically, spiritually and intellectually). One of these early medieval Irish ‘navigatio’ stories is on St Brendan, a tale known in the Netherlands by a late medieval transcription. Later, the term Imrama came to have a figurative sense: the name of a genre of stories in which the sea takes centre stage. Now, Imrama is also the name of the headquarters of Wadgasten, a tiny house in the dunes of the Dutch island Terschelling. Nearby the island’s lighthouse, named Brandaris, blinks, safeguarding sea faring travellers.
These medieval travellers were looking for the other world, sometimes described as an island, sometimes an archipelago. The other world is a fiction – a geo-fiction. It is not an impossibility, but rather a possible place. The other world is the imaginary counterpart to normal places we all know – sense of reality. A sense of possibility is an interesting attitude. We invite you to doubt, travel, see for yourself, speculate and re-write what others have pre-written.
* Imrama or Immrama?
According to www.irishgaelictranslator.com The modern spelling of the word is “iomramh”. Orthographical consistency wasn’t a big deal in old Irish; “imram”, “immram” and a variety of other spellings (even “iomrud”!) are recorded. (/translation/topic73733-10.html
Twelve outposts. Twelve perspectives. Each outpost is matched to a central concept, and a guide. The outposts are topographies, described is such a way that a passer-by encounters the inspiration the place invokes. The outposts are not only a goal for the expeditions, but also stops in the open air, way points along the path, leading to the world at large. The outposts offer outlooks and introspection.
Our project is one of connection, connecting outposts with lines (lines of sight, timelines, storylines). These lines connect points on and off the island, and points within and outside the Wadden Sea. Lines connect with other times and other coasts where the people live, other traditions, languages and ideas. We are looking for connections. The outcome of this game is an interplay of lines, a dynamic map of the world, with the Wadden Sea entangled with the North Sea. The North Sea once was a hub of international ships going to and from European colonies. Today, old boundary lines are re-drawn as rivaling countries quarrel over rights to fish, natural gas, oil, and wind. More and more the North Sea stretches out towards the arctic, with its promises of more oil, gas, and wind. It is a dynamic whole. Islands move, dunes are eroded by wind, and low and high tide alternate. The earth rotates around a moving axis, temperatures are rising, climatic zones are shifting, continents are tipping, the seafloor is sinking, and the sea level is rising. At some point a new ice age will sweep the North Sea and dry up the Wadden Sea. And one day the magnetic poles will switch positions again – north becomes south and south becomes north. Even the oldest lines – the migratory pathways in the air – will change.
To determine one’s place – to navigate – is difficult. Not only in the literal sense, but also in a cultural sense. Where is here and where is there? Where lies the boundary between inside and outside, between a house, a home, and elsewhere. What makes this region ours, and what is essential? Where does the East start? And the Middle East or the Far East? And the north, or the arctic? The bi-polar world we know from the Cold War years, with rigid boundaries between east and west, has evaporated. Bipolar has become multi-polar. It has become impossible to determine a priori who is friend and who is foe. New geostrategic diagnoses are gaining value. To know ones place in the world has become precious. Without a sense of place one can get lost in an endlessly globalizing see of data, bombarded every minute with real time breaking news – disorienting. Surprisingly, we think we see more than ever. Everyone is online all the time – there’s reception everywhere.
Coalitions change from day to day. Navigating has become fickle: where to travel to, with whom and how? The Wadden Sea is a good place to train in orientation and navigation, starting with Terschelling. The name of the island literally means at the divide, etymologists say. The research starts on that boundary line and beyond. Expeditions, exploration, wandering and returning: Imrama. Ever curious, often candid, sometimes ironical, now and then skeptical, always searching for something new. Upon closer inspection, the small Wadden Sea will reveal an ocean.