Dream of home
Searching for ‘home’ outside of territorial bounds. Ongoing project.
Since moving from Portugal to England in 1992 I have tried to understand what it means to be British, and as time went by I became so integrated in this culture that I often forget I am a foreigner. The British have a strong meaning for the word ‘Home‘: a place of true belonging, and whenever they spot my accent I’m asked where I’m from and how often I go ‘home‘. These issues resurface in my mind and in that awkward moment I tell them I go home everyday.
When visiting my birth country I feel like an outsider, someone trapped in a bubble of time, trying to comprehend a culture I no longer relate to or understand. Yet if I stay long enough I experience a slow shift in my mindset, a re-integration of perspective and a cultural connection, but always as an outsider who isn’t entangled in the structure of the community. This constant shifting of perspectives eventually creates a duplicity of character, in a personal adaptation to two different cultures and two very distinct mindsets, and I feel like I become two different people, depending on where I am and how long I have been there.
This year I have been faced with an intense sense of antagonism towards foreign nationals, as Britain decides to leave the European Community. Having never adopted British nationality I am placed outside of this decision and have no other choice but to watch what happens and which might eventually impact on my life. This has led me to question to what extent I feel at home anywhere that I have been living, and what creates that special attachment.
Dream of home is a project which focuses on capturing the essence of both my birth and adopted countries in my personal perception, with each image, film and sound striving to attain the essence of my personal experience as “British” and as Portuguese – or perhaps as neither, seeking to challenge and pinpoint notions of belonging.
“To this human ambiguity of the visible, one […] has to add the visual experience of absence, whereby we no longer see what we saw. We face a disappearance. And a struggle ensues to prevent what has disappeared, what has become invisible, falling into the negation of the unseen, defying our existence. Thus, the visible produces faith in the reality of the invisible and provokes the development of an inner eye which retains and assembles and arranges, as if in an interior, as if what has been seen may be forever partly protected against the ambush of space, which is absence.” *
“Originally home meant the centre of the world – not in a geographical, but in an ontological sense. Mircea Eliade has demonstrated how home was the place from which the world could be founded. A home was established, he says, “at the heart of the real”. In traditional societies, everything that made sense of the world was real; the surrounding chaos existed and was threatening, but it was threatening because it was unreal. Without a home at the centre of the real, one was not only shelterless, but also lost in non-being, in unreality. Without a home everything was fragmentation.
Home was the centre of the world because it was the place where a vertical line crossed with an horizontal one. The vertical line was a path leading upwards to the sky and downwards to the underworld. The horizontal line represented the traffic of the world, all the possible roads leading across the earth to other places. Thus, at home, one was nearer to the gods in the sky and to the dead in the underworld. This nearness promised access to both. And at the same time, one was at the starting point and, hopefully, the returning point of all terrestrial journeys.” **
“[..] to emigrate is always to dismantle the centre of the world, and to move into a lost, disorientated one of fragments.” ***
Quotes from John Berger “and our faces, my heart, brief as photos”, Bloomsbury, 2005. * Page 50, ** pages 55 & 56, *** Page 57