Birthe Jorgensen home where home is not Placements and Volunteers Blog Sogol Mabadi

Home Where Home is Not: A Response

Under is our volunteer Milly’s response to the exhibition Home Where Home is Not which is on at GWL and Platform until 3rd August 2019.

Once I first learn the title of this exhibition, my hand stopped flicking by way of the pages of the programme, and I reread it: “Home Where Home Is Not.” This is in all probability an identical experience lots of people have when coming across Sogol Mabadi and Birthe Jorgensen’s exhibition, as migration is rising exponentially for a plethora of different reasons (in accordance with one Guardian article, about one in 80 individuals around the globe migrate to another country), whether it’s out of necessity for one’s safety, better occupational alternatives, political reasons and even for a change of tradition. Regardless of the cause, discovering a house from residence is something increasingly more individuals are turning into acquainted with. I personally started the journey of rediscovering what house is four years in the past once I moved from a shut-off part of rural north-eastern England to Glasgow for college. Now that I have graduated, and dealing with the potential of starting the journey of finding residence some other place once more, the exhibition undoubtedly stayed with me long after taking a look at all the totally different pieces. The primary concepts that struck me have been the fragility and duality of the concept of house, and how I personally handled it by means of the last four years of my life. The thought of residence is more difficult, traumatic and political for a lot of ladies the world over, for instance being forcibly removed from their residence for his or her gender id or sexual orientation, or being displaced as a result of conflict, poverty or persecution. All this goes to point out that house is not a bodily place, however a concept one adapts and modifications via the course of 1’s life, and I consider Sogol Mabadi and Birthe Jorgensen’s exhibition superbly encapsulates this by means of their work. Nevertheless, I can only converse from my own perspective, and the dialogue obviously doesn’t finish with my response. Home is a universal notion that appears totally different to every particular person, so the conversation in this sense won’t ever be accomplished, finalised and introduced as a hard and fast notion. Home will eternally be fragmented, difficult, scary and protected all of sudden, and typically by no means.


As you cross the edge of Glasgow Ladies’s Library, you’re directly greeted with the disembodied sounds of respiration workouts which are the soundtrack to a video placed excessive above eye degree. There is mechanically a rigidity of familiarity, because the sound of respiration is something we hear on a regular basis, but it is disconnected as at first you’re not sure of where it is coming from. This is usually a quite unsettling experience, and maybe an odd advertising choice as it doesn’t actually comply with the usual protocol for a warm welcome (which GWL all the time aims to offer its guests)! Nevertheless, this sound being positioned on the entrance drives ‘home’ the feeling of the typically terrifying ordeal of arriving someplace new and unfamiliar, and having to connect the intimate label of residence to it. The feeling does a compelling job of emulating the feeling I had when my mum left me alone in my halls of residence room initially of my first yr of university. I keep in mind the anxiety-ridden dissonance of considering “this is home,” yet nonetheless being totally unfamiliar with where I was. To drive this all ‘home’ (sure, I will reuse this!) you do not know the individuals creating this auditory environment in the lobby; the sound you already know that provides you life is coming from individuals you will by no means know or even see. The disconnect between the unknown and such primal instincts meet as soon as you walk by means of the door. Once you feel threatened or uncomfortable, your natural instinct is to go to one thing familiar, but when residence is unfamiliar, one must find new comforts there someway. The sound of the respiration at first sounds menacing, but should you comply with along with the respiration workouts, it is truly a relaxing experience. The method of the unfamiliar turning into the familiar takes its time, however ultimately what was as soon as unusual alleyways shall be your shortcuts, and what was as soon as the shape of a bed in a brand new room can be your mattress in your room.

“Nocturnal bridge building, skin stretching, flood defences and other stories 5.”

This leads to Jorgensen’s installation that you simply see if you walk by means of the doorways into the primary library. It consists of a rust coloured body with cut-up bed sheets in mild, childlike colors stretched and tied to its bars and flood defence luggage weighing down the bottom. The consolation of bed sheets hooked up to an industrial wanting frame creates the strain of sentimental and arduous, while the flood defence luggage symbolise safety, but with the potential of danger. This, like the entrance show, combats the notion of residence being an unfamiliar place. Additionally, it conveys the thought of our worlds being cut up and the desperate need, or quite want, to repair this fragmentation in the juxtaposing materials used to create this piece. The snug clothes the uncomfortable to attempt to mimic security, to mimic residence. I put up cosy fairy lights, introduced footage of childhood pals and pillows I had on my bed into this new room in halls to attempt to create a veil of consolation, of familiarity over the frame of a bare room that was alleged to be my protected haven. Whereas on the floor they have been to easily ‘decorate,’ to make the uninteresting, drab room look more appealing, it was a lot deeper than that; my footage and bedsheets have been the flood luggage stopping the tide of hysteria and homesickness from taking up my new area. They have been to assimilate my previous world into this new one for an ease of transition.

It’s also very fascinating to read what Jorgensen says about this piece. She talks concerning the construction creating a space within an area which is what residence is in its bare bones: a private area inside the shared public area. Nevertheless, it’s us as individuals that forged this intimate, personal which means to it. You see this particularly when Jorgensen mentions a participant of the exhibition who used sleep to deal with her world being cut up. How we determine residence, and find out how to make ourselves really feel protected and safe is completely subjective, making each residence private and unique. Even if the exterior and furnishings have been equivalent in each abode, it is how we use this area and make it our personal that turns a house into a home and feel personal. But, like waking up from an extended nap, unexpectedly strolling into this new area within a space in the library is somewhat disorientating. You lose your bearings and direct information that you simply’re in a protected area that one receives from sense knowledge. Senses play a substantial position in the feeling and idea of house, which hyperlinks perfectly to the subsequent piece!

“Group encounters and the sound of interdependency.”

To date I’ve solely really talked about house being an area, the place to call your personal. But what I found probably the most daunting part was calling a new shared area house. Studying a new city with its personal streets and net of unwritten rules is undoubtedly what scared me probably the most. I tried to assimilate myself by wanting like I knew what I used to be doing, and sometimes failed as I realised I’d walked down the mistaken road or caught the improper bus, or caught the best bus however within the mistaken course. Turning into part of a brand new collective is something I really feel is not talked about that much when discussing shifting house, and one thing Sogol Mabadi depicts playfully in her installation in the primary event area.

The piece consists of multiple blocks placed on the bottom, which you’re invited to maneuver, all by a black material circle that, a minimum of for me, acts like a black hole for the senses. All the blocks appear to be little boats you could organize around an object that negates all senses, inviting the viewer to expertise and understand in several methods, which jogs my memory of getting to depend on different senses to navigate unfamiliar streets. Whenever you don’t know the town like the again of your hand, random little things grow to be your landmarks so you keep in mind totally different paths: the large purple door; the sushi store; the tall building that has distinctive carvings. You begin to map out the brand new city in a approach you personally perceive it, what you individually notice about your environment.

Another thing you discover though, is the collective of individuals you’re surrounded by on this new shared area. Once you’re acquainted with a place, you stop taking in what’s round you, and so taking away such senses which is what that black circle represents, reminds you you’re in a collective of many and arranging your self with everyone else. Relatively than just go on autopilot travelling to your destination when you understand your setting properly, you go searching and see that you’re a part of a mess of people, one little boat in a sea of many, many boats. This is a really uniting, yet paradoxically isolating expertise, as you are feeling a part of one thing, however what if everybody else is more a part of it than you’re? Perhaps this is why we are all so desperate to appear to be we know what we’re doing; to feel such as you belong there. It’s human nature to need to organize the blocks on the floor into some type of sample, some order, which represents how desperate you’re to fit in and comply with these new guidelines and seem like you’re born and raised in that place. Once I realised I had walked down the fallacious road I didn’t simply flip round and correct my mistake, I stubbornly stored walking and added 5 additional minutes to my journey as I circled around pretending like I meant to go this manner, fairly than just turning round and shortly correcting the error as a result of, god forbid, what if somebody knew I wasn’t from this place? Maybe it’s all in a desperate try and trick ourselves into feeling at residence.

“…your tears”

Shifting on into the upstairs gallery, there is Jorgensen’s bust named “…your tears”, which I feel provides a more gendered view on shifting house. To be a lady in any public area will all the time have its potential threats, however once you’re in unfamiliar territory, one feels even more weak. Maybe that’s why I used to be so determined to seem like I knew what I used to be doing and like I belonged, to seem safe and confident so I’m not a possible goal. The bust’s clean, yet incredibly acquainted and recognisable expression depicts this; it’s the prescribed female expression that is copied and pasted onto each feminine portrait within the National Gallery: passive, inoffensive and delicate (for more dialogue on this matter, should you haven’t already come across it, John Berger’s work Ways of Seeing goes into how ladies are portrayed in artwork more in-depth, out there both in guide type or there are clips on YouTube of his tv show explaining the same concepts). This expression is protected, it is not confrontational and it is the prescribed demeanour for ladies. Nevertheless, her eyes are wanting just off centre making this lady distant, not letting anyone really feel close to her perhaps for her own protection. Nevertheless, the tears tell a special story. It’s a hauntingly lovely testimony to the grief of having to split your world in two; to call somewhere new your own home means saying goodbye and mourning your previous residence, but, as I’m positive many of us have experienced, feminine emotions are sometimes handled the best way we treat a minor rash: undoubtedly don’t take it significantly enough, ignore it and hope it goes away. So, this lady keeps up the façade of passiveness and normality to not antagonise or be perceived as a menace to the gender class construction to keep herself protected. But the emotions are real, and really raw.

The chest is additionally organically concave, which reminds one of many expression where the entire exhibition acquired its identify, “home is where the heart is.” When house modifications, your coronary heart goes lacking, and you must substitute it with something new, because where you’re from impacts who you’re as a person, as it’s the place you spent your youth. This all seems terrifying at first, but, by building new relationships, finding a circle of associates, you possibly can create a new coronary heart; find yourself again somewhere new. Glasgow was once unfamiliar to me, it was massive and scary, and I didn’t know anybody, however I constructed a life right here. I discovered new buddies, new relationships, new little usuals, and slowly, your coronary heart does rebuild. But, the bust perfectly shows the agonising journey to get there. That is my personal response, however, as I stated, residence is totally different to each particular person.


Sogol Mabadi’s work Odd-kin, additionally found in the upstairs gallery, is absolutely fascinating to me. It references Donna Haraway’s phenomenal essay “A Cyborg Manifesto” (a must-read in case you’re in the relationship between know-how and the political physique, there are PDFs out there online and in addition physical copies to lend from the library). Whereas the work references know-how turning into a part of the body, the Nintendo DS handheld recreation console captured in a Vaseline case made me really feel incredibly nostalgic. The console is the exact same I used to spend hours enjoying once I was younger in my childhood bed room, and the Vaseline puts it behind a blurry display making it look like I’m wanting on the actual one I had via a hazy reminiscence. This made me think about the facility nostalgia and reminiscences have on our concept of residence, and the contradicting position know-how is having on this in newer years.

Home is the place you construct reminiscences, the place you lay strong emotional ties to a place, because that road is where you discovered to journey a motorcycle, that bump within the pavement is the place you tripped and harm your knee so dangerous you thought you’d by no means walk again regardless that it was solely a surface graze, that house is where you had sleepovers with your mates, where you bickered and laughed together with your siblings. It creates emotional ties that make you name somewhere house. This is why we wrestle to offer new places the same title; we don’t have those connections. Nevertheless, once we add know-how, this turns into tough, and it may well make the transition of shifting residence even more durable. With know-how continually changing and rapidly evolving, how we connect with particular units or apps turns into exceedingly momentary, yet they are also extensions of ourselves because they turn into part of our emotional attachment to a specific place. I performed that video games console for hours on finish in my bed room, and so it’s part of my reminiscences of that place, however they don’t make those consoles anymore (I mean you should purchase them second hand on-line, but they’re previous, worn down and very clearly a part of someone else’s youth), and in order that part of residence is misplaced to me.

Even the best way we talk has fluctuated and advanced staggeringly shortly all through the years, I talked to my pals from faculty on MSN (when no one was using the house telephone, we’ve got come a great distance since then!), however the best way you’d use MSN and the best way you’d use extra trendy communication methods comparable to Snapchat or Whatsapp is totally totally different. How we type relationships, a elementary a part of discovering house, is subsequently all the time changing, which may make assimilation and transition increasingly slippery and challenging. This will likely develop into even more pronounced with time, and on no account am I saying this is a nasty factor (I cringe considering back to the MSN days!); new applied sciences have monumental potential and apps corresponding to Twitter have given groups the world over a brand new voice and a platform to organise. Yet, apps come and go as quick as hair developments, so the connections we make on these platforms is so fleeting that the nostalgic attachments we make might be even more distant and inconceivable to recreate. Nevertheless, is making a brand new house essentially making an attempt to recreate house? Or, is it an entirely new recent begin, a clear slate that invites you to be something utterly totally different, which means new ways to speak, create new types of relationships? That is one thing only you as a person can determine for your self.

Right here I’ve solely mentioned five elements of the exhibition, which is certainly not every thing that there is to see! I extremely advocate visiting GWL, and in addition Platform situated in Easterhouse, to see the whole exhibition yourself. Absorb what you see and visualise what house means to you.

You possibly can learn more about Home Where Home is Not on this submit by Daphne who visited the exhibition at GWL and Platform with a gaggle of Front of House volunteers.