Rebecca Squires, PhD in the Arts

The Interstitial Space of the Picturesque enquires into the eighteenth-century picturesque view and its legacy, exposing within the illusion of expansive freedom, the imperialist appropriation of life and land. Hovering aesthetically between the sublime and the beautiful, the picturesque landscape featured tantalizing outlooks, peephole glimpses, and borrowed scenery, which visually annexed distant prospects, leading to a picturesque illusion which Horace Walpole stated “called in the distant view […] removed and extended the perspective by delusive comparison”.
The half-wild, half-domesticated landscape of irregularity, surprise, and contrast, along with the “delusive” expansion of perspective through the confiscation of the view, invoked sensory disorientation, a requisite for changing consciousness, establishing the in-between space of the picturesque as a locus of transformation. This outdoor laboratory gave physical and psychic space to the development and display of Western European artistic, philosophical, and scientific innovations, however, this advancement was built upon mechanisms of brutality and domination. Caught in the furrows of this mechanism was the chattel slave, who served as both labor and grist, chafing in this in-between space. Picturesque dialectics will be explored and potentially sublated through the realization of a Grand Tour from Brussels to Venice in a human-pulled carriage.


  • Dr. Bart Geerts (supervisor, KU Leuven/LUCA)

Research unit: Inter-Actions

Duration: 2021 - 2025