philipp meuser photography
WAITING FOR BUYAN
Waiting for Buyan (2018)
Rügen is Germany's largest and most populous island. It is also one of the most attractive family holiday destinations, mainly visited for its scenic landscape. From the 7th to the 12th century, the island was the main cult site for the West Slavic tribe the Rani. They believed that the island was sacred. Some 800 years ago, the Slavs were evicted by the Christians, and they eventually moved away from the island. They took their stories and beliefs with them. Today, most of the myths and legends are forgotten and the holy places are neglected.
Some consider Rügen to be the mythical island of “Buyan”, which is a place where many Russian legends, myths and fairy tales originate. It is a mysterious place that can appear and disappear with the tides, which holds the stone of wisdom, where castles lie on the bottom of lakes, and where the seeds of all living things are stored.
The part Archeology depicts the scientific and historical background to the possible birth of myths. The images capture places that were used as religious sites in the past but have different meanings today.
Historic Landscapes analyzes the alleged naturalness of the landscape as well as its changing influence on history and archeology.
One such example is the case of the Jasmund National Park. Once it was a mixed forest by the sea that fell victim to deforestation in order to give a home to Slavic temples and infrastructure.
As a result, a beech forest developed which today is declared a national park. The photographs show the shoreline and cliffs formed by erosion, which led to the disappearance of the historic religious center.
The part Myths traces the legends about the landscape. Even though Rügen played a considerable role in Slavic history, it is still not clear whether it is indeed the legendary island of Buyan. Some of the many Russian and Slavic legends surrounding Buyan hold that Buyan is the center of the Universe. They also say that the island is the source of all kinds of weather, and the seeds of all living things are stored here. Some suggest that it holds the Stone of Wisdom. According to a Russian legend, Buyan can appear and disappear with the help of tides.
The series Fake Nature depicts an idealized form of nature, predominantly in the context of tourism. While being a commentary on the embellished language of legends, the artificial landscape also reflects the contemporary status of the island being spiritually poor.
Waiting for Buyan (2018) finds traces of Slavic settlements, searches for signs of Russian myths, and comments on the contemporary perception of the island in a spiritually detached society.
"Waiting for Buyan" in Parallel Platform's exhibition
"Rarely Pure, Never Simple" at Umetnostna galerija Maribor, May 2018: