Performed during The Feeling of not Feeling at Home.
Curated by *err collective and took place at TOPIC, Geneva, from 22-28.05.17
As a preparation for the performance, I walked for 24hour, taking in the neighbourhood, while fasting. I performed directly after. Below is the notes from the walk.
Text from 24h walk in Veaussessx neighbourhood, Geneva, 23rd-24th May 2017.
“the social is not a type of thing either or visible or to be postulated. It is visible only by the traces it leaves (under trails) when a new association is being produced between elements which themselves are in no way social!”
“To be social is no longer a safe and unproblematic property, it is a movement that may fail to trace any new connection and may fail to redesign any well-formed assemblage”
“In each instance, we have to reshuffle our conception of what was associated together because the previous definition has been made somewhat irrelevant. We are no longer sure about what ‘we’ means; we seem to be bound but ‘ties’ that don’t look like regular social ties”
“Home of birds, of insects
Home in the sense of safety and not ownership
Home about labour and productivity rather than rest
Where might birds be home?
What is their journey? – the space in between?
Home as transit
Home in a brick house, doorway and bacteria finding home in our bodies.”
-Notes from Ashleigh Griffith (Tracing the Pathway)
The past hour has been at the time where homes are getting warm. It is that time around dinner where either food is cooking and people are setting the table (many in the garden as the weather is hot), or you can hear knives and forks against plates, or people drinking tea in the garden, while chatting satisfied. It is the hour where kids have time to play before they are send off to bed. It is the hour where things begin to slow down, yet early enough for one more activity. There are many homes here, mainly flats in tall blocks, and lots of green bushes, which hides grass and playgrounds – it feels like this quarter was made fir families – a place to settle and a place of comfort and convenience. A place that takes sunbaths and is cozy when it rains.
It is also a place where you cannot hide (so it feels) or at least not outside. There is always a window staring at you – a private space whose eyes are always to be seen. Are somebody watching? – Hard to tell, though as a stranger I am aware of the possibility. I somehow feel I might look foreign, that my behaviour is strange. To be fair my behaviour is strange, as I am not using the space for its purpose…whatever that is? Though I mean, I don’t live here or have a need to pass through this place, just lingering as the dog walkers – perhaps getting a dog would make me feel more at home here?
I have been listening to birds – back on the grass and face against the sky. I fell asleep though, not for long, I think, but I did snooze as I tried to listen. And maybe it is too late for listening, as there were only a few birds around, though the ones that tweeted were quite consistent and repetitive. But many of the birds have homes now or nest – or does either of these terms work without anthropomorphise birds? A place? A territory? All seems irrelevant if you think through the eyes of a bird (or at least try). It is as if it would not need to be named. Surely it is obvious to the bird. It is what it lives for, no? So when flying it is about returning to its place and that place is made for no other than the bird who built it. Not like humans who can take over another’s former home. A birds nest is it’s nest till it decays.
In regards to birds, you asked whether home is more about safety than ownership. With birds surely, though for humans it is more complex, however safety is an important factor. I often state that much of the rising nationalism (or call/relate it to fascism, racism, xenophobia) we are experiencing in Europe today is based on a desire to protect and feel safe. Though safe from what: change? To loose something? Identity? Culture? Or are they just sub-reasons from something that is much more basic, like live of the bird? To turn it around, home is not much of a home if you feel unsafe in it. It should be a safe environment…?
A security car has just pulled up next to a block of flats and a woman is learning to reverse in her car on the same carpark – in a safe place.
I often state that home is a false sense of security. It is not a safe you can lock (and even safes are also broken into). It is something that needs to breath and thus faces the risk of change. – And a cultivated change is good. A moving home is a healthy home. Yet it might also collapse. Just like children will hurt themselves while playing at one time or another – and so it should be. Similar a bird’s nest might be attacked by a magpie while it is getting food, but it have to take that risk and loose that control. Maybe that is the problem (or question) that protection and control is not the same, which often becomes the case with, for example, borders. I mean, I try to protect my shoes and keep them as long as I can, but that does not mean I will stop walking in them.
While I have walked around I have found a doormat with ‘home’ written on it and a deck chair in a horrendous yellow colour, however fab to sit in and hopefully sleep in. There is a lot of furniture and domestic objects all over the neighbourhood. Though not thrown anywhere, but neatly placed where larger items of rubbish needs to be. Currently I am sitting in the deck chair with the doormat on my lap, glaring at me – it somehow helps me to contemplate. Though sitting here, more specifically in the deckchair, give me a sense of place which didn’t exist when walking around. Walking was, perhaps obviously, unsettling and I can understand why homeless wants to stay in familiar settings, rather than just go somewhere. Movement and settling is a constant balance when it comes to home; when to cultivate, when to change, when to collect?… collect? When to manifest is better. A wobbly home. A jelly bouncing home or a dancing home from an old 1930’s Disney cartoon. Maybe that is what I am doing now? Performing a settled state with my mat and chair – it certainly draw in people’s attention. It stands out, here in the middle of the street.
About to fall asleep and here security becomes very important, as you don’t want to be intruded or unexpectedly woken up, or have your things taken. The area here feels extremely safe, however sleeping with your eyes closed and with your guards down, I find myself to be extra cautious. To breathe into the risk, into the uncertainty and trust. I will be alright. I will be alright.
A woman in high heels is walking home. She must be looking forward to get her shoes off and get into bed.
The sky is no longer black, but bluish. Black with a hint of blue. It is early – a bit too early for the many homes to have woken up. Though some are out: a car here and there.
I’m cold, feeling the night on my skin, in my bones – I am not really built to live without a shelter. Is a shelter and a home the same thing? When I picked up my mat and deckchair I felt a sense of belonging. Not home as such, though less uncomfortable. A shelter and a home is not the same thing: one is practical and the other is a feeling
The sun is rising. Crazy to think it is a star so far away that I am waiting for to warm me up. To make me feel comfortable. Right now I can’t really think and my body is still persistently cold, like a layer on my skin – it does not feel right.
The body is the first home, some say, but what if you do not feel at home in it, then it becomes a prison, no? A trapped feeling that wants to be somewhere else. But what to do? Our bodies are like the bird’s nest, only meant for one, however we have not made our own bodies, like the bird, its nest. To be comfortable in your body is then the act of working with what you have got – its flaws and qualities. Home, as a place, is different as it can be changed. And not feeling home in the body makes it difficult to feel at home at all.
Home is also great to make; to make it cozy and bring your things, wishes and energy into it. This is way beyond the practical level of home/shelter and is somewhat a luxury – a satisfaction of desire. I was about to say need instead of desire, though I don’t think it is a need as such, unless you have the luxury of time to make and choose such desire as a need.
I’m in my deckchair again with the first morning sun on my chest. This act of taking this seat is an act of home-making, of feeling at home… maybe not at home though an act of engaging with the place, which draws me closer to it. Earlier, when I was frozen and was tired, I didn’t have the energy to engage and to connect with my environment. The discomfort of my body didn’t allow it. Yet, now when I’m warmer I have the extra energy to engage. I think this might be the line between home and shelter. To make home takes energy, where a shelter is a function for protecting the body. Home is the energy you put into connecting to a place.
out of step
lines and roots
To be a stranger to a place, to not speak the language, to not live there and be uncertain of any social code, makes me feel very cautious not to offend or get into bad light, in the eyes of people living here. And this is on a very small scale. Can I walk on the grass? Can I pee behind the bush?
I really wanted to enter an old squad, which was fenced in. I wish to experience a place where people lived. Surely it was easy enough to jump over the fence, look around and jump out again, but I was scared. Scared of the potential confrontation in another language, so I stayed out.
On that note it takes time not to feel like a stanger – ot feel at home. It takes months, even years for some. And some makes home easy, others find it hards, while others are at home when they are on the move, yet what is the feeling of home? It is easy to identify the feeling of not feeling at home. Of Course, people can describe home in sensations:
The smell of coffee
Putting your feed up
Yet, nothing really defines what home is. Maybe home is like the social (Latour), only something we can point at through traces and feelings had and memories?
At the recycling bin a lot of tin cans are stuck on top, stacked up in different heights. They somehow copy the apartment blocks surrounding it. One by one in different size and colours. Perhaps we can’t help to subconsciously built the places we want to live in – or are we just strongly influenced by our environment?
Home, for me, means more than home as a building. It also means what surrounds it and what supports it. It could never be a building on its own, nor can it be a place without a building.
“To exists is to differ” (Trade in Latour). Perhaps being a stranger here is what absolutely defines my existence?
Well, the place has been kind to me, though mostly in a way where it had let me be – which I’m not sure is so kind in some respect, though, to be fair, so it is to others. Though kind smiles are here and a woman waved to me from 8th floor and I waved back and so did she – this was a lovely moment. A guy asked me for directions and when he understood I don’t speak French he said “too bad” with a smile. And the neighbourhood is clean and they love to have their trash in order. Not only are there bins for everything, they are also everywhere, being emptied quite often. Alas things are neat here, perfect and absolutely shaped for the comfort of the people living here – a perfect anthro-domestic urban design. So are there space for animals? Yes, if they can fit it, though nothing is made for animals. All the greens are surely made for the human residence. And a lot of dogs in leads. A domestic area and disciplined (somehow?).
Could almost say that the neighbourhood fits into a utopian glove, as the buildings are rectangularly clean and sharp.
Not to feel at home, is that manly because of external factors? That somethings happens, which makes you feel un-home.
A burglary in your house?
Too high temperatures?
On my journey I found two stone with writing on them. The first said ‘RARS’ and the second:
L’essentiel What is
invisible is invisible
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