Whitehot Magazine

December 2007, Neue Heimat @ Berlinische Galerie

Neue Heimat –Berlin Contemporary- @ Berlinische Galerie

By Maxime Hanchir

Until the 07th of January 2008, the Berlinische Galerie hosts the exhibition “Neue Heimat –Berlin contemporary-”. The exhibition shows the works of 29 artists of contemporary Berlin. Expats or Berliners, the artists have been animated by the timeless thematic of the hominess (Heimat). Thematically emphasis points to "Architecture, Nature, Things and Mobility”. Indeed, the word “Heimat” has actually no direct translation in English but embodies a feeling of nostalgia or unrealizable desire for a lost or idealistic place of belonging. Interestingly, “Heimat” has in German a direct reference to German Romanticism and more sadly to National Socialist propaganda.

This heavy past add a bit of kitsh and ambiguity to the expression “Neue Heimat” and easily clears up the diversity of interpretations and approaches used by the artists. Successfully imagined and conceived by Ursula Prinz, the exhibition is a Must-See not only because of the quality of the works presented here but because of the deepness of the theme.

In a city such as Berlin where half a million people do not speak German as a mother tongue and in a time where words as migration, multiculturalism or globalization are getting bigger and bigger, conceiving an exhibition about the feeling of hominess is a challenging idea. “Neue Heimat” is based on a creative and open vision of the feeling of hominess mixing opinions with mediums as a huge colorful brainstorm on the chosen themes.

The exhibition starts big with 1:1 (2005) of Tea Mäkipää: a massive installation which simplifies a traditional Finish house to its supplies lines. Impressive by itself, the work gives the tune of the exhibition: conceptual and smart without sliding into cold intellectualism. Criticized as a work created to question the possibility of intimacy. 

As another installation of big size, one has to notice Costa Veces’ work Revolution/Patriotismo tent (2006). The installation once again is a habitation; a tent made of flags from many countries without distinction of political or cultural particularities. The work carries many symbols and is criticized as a work created to underline the general idea of homelessness. In the same idea but using personal objects (things) as medium, the Palestinian-Lebanese artist Mona Hatoum evokes for us the nostalgia of a home and the search of a refuge in things of the past (Mobile home 2, 2006).

Some of the works could be related to mass psychology (as the Chromosomes of Jorinde Voigt) and others to media related culture. Thus, some artists interrogate the viewer about collective subconscious mind or about the role of clichés in everyone’s identity (as the photographer Mandla Reuter).

To conclude, one could say that the exhibition “Neue Heimat” is a very interesting think-tank on identity not to be missed.

Maxime Hanchir

Maxime Hanchir is a writer from Belgium living between Brussels and
Berlin.  maximehanchir@hotmail.com

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