Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation.
From the Middle Ages through the 17th century, mountains were often regarded as inconvenient, aesthetically repellant, and dangerous, not only to the body but also to the soul. Poets of the time described them as warts, wens, blisters, and pustules that ruin the face of nature. It probably would have suited their thinking to have them taken down or flattened out in any way possible. Having these eyesores razed to the ground would provide unobstructed views. Such mountains are being obliterated today as overburden to coal.
Part of my work looks at the anomalous within the landscape, the blip or interruption in one’s understanding of a place. In this case my focus is on the disappearance and shifting of land and the removal of the tops of mountains.
The tops of more than 500 mountains have been removed from the 480 million year old Appalachian range. My understanding of this process comes through Stanley Heirs Park, West Virginia, and the now moribund Kayford Mountain.
I work through sculpture, drawing, and model-making isolating tracts of land from their surroundings, looking to present the spectator with the most authentic experience possible of a place while making the journey from afar.
“Cover the window, please. These mountains give me no ideas.”
My practice is committed to armchair travel and the authentic experience, the touristic frontier, and the anomalous within the landscape. My projects are about journeys never actually taken, or based upon hearsay.
Drawn from someone else’s tales as well as someone else’s research, the subjects are factually disconnected, hinged together across territories by the literary and the cinematic. My work questions what is meant or understood as “real,” in the same terms as Franz Kafka’s Amerika, where the author wrote without ever having visited the country in question. Indeed, so armed with unsubstantiated evidence of a place, we may find that the armchair experience and third-hand information is at least of as much practical use as first-hand experience in understanding any contemporary reality.
E.M. Forester wrote in The Machine Stops (1909) of a place where machines had taken the place of the general business of everyday life and the natural earth had become redundant, even as a place to contemplate and refresh the mind: Beware of first-hand ideas. First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by life and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element – direct observation.
Wendy Judge’s installations explore armchair travel and journeys never taken. She studied at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design, Dublin and the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. She has exhibited her work throughout Ireland and the UK, including the National Gallery of Ireland, and the Tate Modern, London; and internationally at Rawson Projects, Brooklyn, and CSV Center, New York.