“Deserts possess a particular magic, since they have exhausted their own futures, and are thus free of time. Anything erected there, a city, a pyramid, a motel, stands outside time”
― J.G. Ballard, The Atrocity Exhibition
Heimweh is the German word for ‘homesickness’ and has been chosen to reference Freud’s writings on the ‘Unheimlich’, literally ‘unhomely’, which also translates as ‘the uncanny’. These writings are wandering, uncertain, and cite E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Der Sandman in an attempt to clarify something which could not be simply explained, but which instead suggests something familiar which holds an unfamiliarity. This includes something to do with sight, perception and trickery, and an inability to distinguish between what is real or imagined.
The Unheimlich exists within the landscape and it does not. It exists within the home, and it does not. Heidegger quite succinctly clarifies the Unheimlich within the methodology of Phenomenology. Uncanniness is the uncanny state of being within oneself. Modern psychology might label it post traumatic stress, now widely understood to affect anyone who has experienced a sudden and traumatic disturbance of reality. There are layers to the Unheimlich. There is the home, there is the domestic and there is loss.
Each artist makes their own connection to the home and takes a departure from it. There is Heimweh, a longing for home when it is no longer readily available, an attachment to the home, or an inability to connect to the idea of home. In the ‘weh’ (‘pain' in German) there are fragments, pushing and pulling all at once, there is an undulating extension. For some, the home is a place of comfort, everything emanating from its centre. For others, there is the traumatic loss of the home. Within this word there is the extra linguistic, both sensory and visual.