A kitchen, shiny, tidy and yet devoid of humans – only a plant and the kettle on the stove indicate a human presence. The room in the painting Almut Heise created in 1968 seems somehow frozen in time and, as a place of many a shared meal, at the same time evokes images of security, of the eternally unchanging »idyllic world« of childhood, of growing up. Is this what home means? Or is it rather the landscape, one’s own region, suggested by the sky depicted in the window of Heise’s Kitchen I? The German term »Heimat«, a word that remains difficult to translate into other languages and has repeatedly been instrumentalized for political ends, is a term charged with symbolic meaning like no other: notions of identity, belonging, mentality or even ideology resonate here. Home can be a place of departure and arrival alike. The term continually underlies semantic changes and, in the light of globalization and increasing migratory movement, has once more become a political issue. For the concept of home as a (cultural) reference to one’s familiar surroundings, to what is known, is always contrasted with the unknown, the foreign. But what then does home mean in a world of seemingly dissolving boundaries?

Ifee Tack (research assistant)