Page 1


the quest

a photographic journey based on the novel Night Train to Lisbon


Diederik van Rossum Dutch Institute of Psychosynthesis, Hilversum

‘The day that ended with everything different in the life of Raimund Gregorius began like countless other days’. So begins Pascal Mercier’s book Night Train to Lisbon. After reading the first page, the life of landscape photographer Annemarie Hoogwoud would also never be the same again. She is magically attracted by the protagonist who transforms his familiar life from one moment to the next. Annemarie loves wandering alone through landscapes. Searching through the eye of her camera, she is used to recording the everyday beauty of them. This familiar life comes to an abrupt end while reading the book. As if in a dream, she is sucked into the book and the train is no longer rushing through the night from Bern to Lisbon, but through the timelessness of the landscape of her life. The depth of her loneliness, so visible on her photos, and her intense desire for human proximity, find themselves as if by magic in the train compartment of her own powers of imagination. From this train compartment she contacts me. She explains about her desire to use her camera to represent the dream in which she landed while reading


and about all the photos that have already been made. I see and hear the confusion and the paralysis the dream world can cause. Annemarie had not expected what awaited her, while she was busy doing what she had to do. I feel that, for Annemarie, there was no question of stopping and also not of going on. We talked about her early youth in Amsterdam-West and how she came to move to Amsterdam-East. Talking about west and east we discovered that the sun sets in the west and that the night then begins. We also saw that the sun rises in the east and that the day then begins. Annemarie realised that her theme is not continuing or stopping. Beginning and ending, birth and death, seeing and doing, alone and together, that is what it is all about. In Annemarie’s life, photographing what she sees is just such a journey through the night as it is to see what has been captured in her photos. ‘Life is not what we live, it is what we imagine we are living’. This is the final sentence in the book that is so beautifully represented by Annemarie Hoogwoud in The Quest. Look as slowly as you can.


And then he heard sentences that stunned him, for they sounded as if they had been written for him alone, and not only for him, but for him on this morning that had changed everything.


Given that we can live only a small part of what there is in us, what happens to the rest?


What could, what should be done with all the time that lay before us, open and unshaped, feather-light in its freedom and lead-heavy in its uncertainty?


The quest  

A photographic journey based on the novel 'Night Train to Lisbon' Annemarie Hoogwoud

The quest  

A photographic journey based on the novel 'Night Train to Lisbon' Annemarie Hoogwoud