The Review Of Homing Exhibition By Dr Birgitta Hosea

On “Homing”


The publicity material for the exhibition refers to the space in which the exhibition is set. It specifically points to the curation of these works within a domestic interior. This started me off thinking about the home as a poetic space, resonant with imagery and associations.


In Gaston Bachelard’s ‘Poetics of Space’, he seeks to write a philosophy of poetry that addresses the reader’s experience of poetic images and what kind of space they are set in. He aims to consider the human value of space, what significance space has for us. Unlike a gallery, a house is a domestic space that has been lived in and experienced. It is not a neutral white space, but full of memories and traces of past lives that once passed through there. Bachelard even suggests that the house can be seen as a metaphor for the human mind, with secrets hidden away in dusty attics and deserted cellars.


I note the use of the word ‘homing’ which is the present participle or adjectival version of the verb ‘to home’ and not the noun ‘home’ so this use of words implies a continual action that is repeated and returned to rather than an actual place. And what is the experience of being at home or making a home as an artist? For a home is not something that is given to you, it’s something you must make. A place that is comfortable, safe, secure. And you could say that what is a real home is a welcoming supportive community. I would say all artists need this for inspiration, encouragement, mutual growth and mutual understanding. And yet behind some of these works lies another sense of ‘homing’.


In his essay on the Uncanny, Freud discusses the definition of the word ‘heimlich’ or ‘homely’ and says that the original German word can be interpreted in two ways:


1. belonging to the house; friendly; familiar; intimate, comfortable; i.e: secure, domestic(ated), hospitable.


2. concealed, secret, withheld from sight and from others; private.


The implication of this is that what happens at home is comfortable, secure and safe and yet it is also intimate, private and concealed from others. Freud uses this insight to to develop an understanding of the “heimlich” as being something that is concealed from the conscious self and hidden in the subconscious mind.


To conclude, this sense of homing can also be read into the exhibition. Although the works in the show are by different artists and use different media – sculpture, drawing, fashion, textiles, sound and photography – for me they are all connected by their exploration of memory, identity, nostalgia and intimacy. They show not only a connection with a lived, domestic interior space, but an eruption of subconscious desires for memories of the past, and for intimate sensual pleasures like food or tactile stimulation.


B Hosea


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