“Only foreign places can teach us what heimat means to us” – Theodor Fontane
„Heimat is a German word denoting […] the relationship of a human being towards a certain spatial social unit. The term forms a contrast to social alienation and usually carries positive connotations. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland.”
This is how Wikipedia defines the almost untranslatable German term. “Heimat” stands for an unchangeable location of individual entrenchment that exists in geographical space as well as in terms of memory. Heimat is a different place for every human being. Sometimes it does not even mean a place, but a smell, a taste, a melody or a sensory impression.
The loss of heimat - be it through war and expulsion or due to search for work and food to ensure survival for oneself or one’s family - is a central topic not only for the 20th but also for the 21th century. To talk about heimat in Germany means to take up a specific critical position towards the political past in addition to facing today’s problems.
Heimat in the year 2012 is more than just a geographical localization or a memory. The meaning of the term has changed fundamentally through globalization, migration and the internet. It has transformed from a static concept into something flexible, which seems difficult to grasp. The space in which one feels “heimisch” (at home) might as well be an intellectual, cultural or virtual one.
Hence, the exhibition “Neue Heimat” aspires to bridge the gap between historical and contemporary, German and international artistic positions. The exhibition features one of the landscapes of impressionistic painter Robert Sterl as well as works by Joseph Beuys and Hans-Peter Feldmann. These exhibits are opposed with works by younger artists like Maximilian Erbacher, whose works address the encodings that make up “Heimatgefühl” (the feeling of Heimat) and Dennis Scholl whose pencil drawings establish an intellectual space, shaped by scholarly subjects taken from the European humanities. Japanese artist Hiroki Tsukuda’s large scale works on paper deal with the loss and destruction of heimat through the natural disasters and nuclear accidents that recently occurred in Japan. American artist Owen Gump discusses the American Dream and relates to Californian artistic traditions. In his work "There's No Place Called Home (Great Wall)," James Webb documents one of his interventions wherein he broadcasts the calls of foreign birds from speakers concealed in local trees.
Heimat 2012 constitutes a multifaceted concept, equally locally as internationally connected, but simultaneously firmly grounded.
Neue Heimat is a project of Blatzheim-Brüning