The poet Charles Baudelaire coined the term Flâneur to describe a middle-class ‘figure of privilege and leisure, with the time and money to amble around the city at will’. Baudelaire’s flâneur was primarily interested in observing the everyday monotony happening in the city. Essayist Susan Sontag took this a step further, writing the flâneur was ‘the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes’. While this description suggests a darker desire, the core idea of ‘an observer’ that Baudelaire identified still exists.
While the Isle of Wight is far from the idea of an urban environment, I take the concept of the flâneur as someone who wanders and observes the environment around them, whether urban or rural. My work aims to explore areas that are local and interesting to me that document and record the mundane every-day, to build up a series of photographs that are at once identifiable as parts of the Isle of Wight, but do not conform to pre-conceived or sanitised ideas of what the Island should look like based on tourist information sites, postcards or picturesque landscape images.
As the writer Kirsten Seal noted, ‘photographs are at once visual and physical dramatisations of the transience of everyday life’. To me, the best way of experiencing this is to wander.