Gravity Roads

Hannah Schleifer

Keywords: Tourism, Perception, Artist book

Internship: KULT Books,

It is the summer of 2020, I am sitting in a van, driving to a photo-set in Portugal, when our local driver mentions that we are now on a gravity road. He explains that here, gravity doesn’t work and that vehicles move up the hill by themselves.

Gravity Roads is not a work about one unique place but rather about a phenomenon that occurs in multiple locations. These are places where a natural optical illusion tricks the eye into percieving objects as moving uphill by themselves. This draws people’s attention to these otherwise ordinary countryside roads and turns some of them into touristic roadside attractions.

I am fascinated by the human need to understand what is happening and the urge to explain anything. While making this work, I am also just someone that gives in to her curiosity. This tension between believing either our eyes or logical explanations is captivating. Often, the explanation marks the end of this curiosity, but with the gravity road it is different. The phenomenon has been scientifically and logially explained - yet we still give in to its strangeness.

Gravity Roads is a research-based work that consists of photographs, texts, observations, and found material and which is presented in an artist book as well as an installation. It is an invitation to discover and explore the phenomenon of the gravity-hill-illusion and to question one’s personal awareness towards one’s surroundings.

Gravity Roads is a playful comment on human fascination for the absurdity of a place, even though we know that there is nothing absurd about it at all, really.