De Duimsprong

Miek Zwamborn


Book, 21 x 13.1 cm, 255 p., language : Dutch, publisher : Uitgeverij Van Oorschot, Amsterdam, ISBN : 9789028260917.
Materials: Ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2026/627).

Literary synopsis

In De duimsprong, a young woman parts ways with Jens after hiking together in the mountains, and they agree to meet up again soon. However, when Jens goes missing without a trace, she isn't able to understand or come to terms with his disappearance. She starts retracing their route on the quest to find him again. During her search, she encounters the striking Eduard Spelterini, Richard Owen, Marie Vöglin, Mary Anning and the figure of Albert Heim (1849-1937), a geologist who documented the Swiss Alps. Her physical hunt for Jens is intertwined with a biographical investigation following in Heim's footsteps across Europe. She becomes acquainted with the (love) life and work of this renowned geologist as she attempts to find out why Jens could have disappeared. As she wanders, her own story unravels from these two perspectives.

In De duimsprong, Miek Zwamborn demonstrates the scope of the contemporary novel, using a combination of fiction and non-fiction to sweep the reader away on a journey past landslides, Alpine panoramas, mountaintops and the lesser known peaks of nineteenth-century science. The associated stories conjure up a passionate and richly illustrated picture of this fascinating world.

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

Whilst working on her third novel De duimsprong, Miek Zwamborn showed a cabinet filled with geological drawings, stones, models, tools and archive material around the tale of a historical landslide in the South of England and two eccentric adventurers: the British paleontologist Mary Anning and the Swiss geologist A. von Sankt Gallen Heim. This “Wunderschrank” gave an insight in her story brewery. The artist treated it as an experiment to see if she could construct a three dimensional version of the plot with her findings.

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