An artistic investigation into the core of our society, where to start? For us at HomeBase, the home is the engine and heart of our organization. It is our point of departure; from here we go out and explore our extended home—the neighborhood surrounding us.
It appears that outside of our home a completely different set of rules and questions are being posed. How do we interact and build community? What is a community and what is the foundation of building a community? Or is the question: how can our neighborhoods and our public spaces emulate how we live together in our homes?
The international artists at our HomeBase Project residency reflect, inspire and contribute to this process, investigating how our neighbors contribute to our process and how we use each other’s qualities to build our collective and personal homes. We know that artists can play a unique and essential role in investigating and developing the processes that bring our society together. But how can we open up local, international, social, political and practical processes and show how the artist’s value might improve the functioning of authorities and organizations? How we can we shape the relations between social innovation and contemporary art into a tool for society?
HomeBase asks: What constitutes the meaning of home?
Anat Litwin answers:
Throughout the history of art, home has been an inspiring topic and a source for reflection that crosses boundaries between public and private, art and everyday life. Home and domestic spaces deeply reveal of a range of cultural issues, beliefs, aesthetic values and complexities. Anthropologist Joseph Campbell refers to the home as an extension of the womb. Sigmund Freud exposed in the last century the impact home has on our being in the world, seeing the home as a mold of ‘self’.
In 2006 I founded the HomeBase project and embarked together with other co-creators on a journey home. In NY and Berlin we made temporary bases in changing neighborhoods that host artist residencies and communal research on the notion of home.
Director & Camera – Tal Siano | Editor – Ohad nave | Original score – Hilit Rozental | 2nd Camera – Noa Peleg
HomeBase homes can be seen as hybrids that function both as artistic hubs and civic-minded cultural centers for the community. They emphasize participation, challenge power, and experiment in alternative economic, communal, urban and educational modes. The homes draw inspiration from artist Rikrit Trivajian’s Untitled (Tomorrow Is Another Day) and the Hull home. The former implanted a fully functional model of Trivajian’s New York apartment inside a gallery space; viewers were then encouraged to utilize the space as they would their own homes. The latter was built by community leader Jane Adams, co-founder of the settlement movement in the United States.
Working within the legacy of artist Joseph Bueys and the idea of ‘social sculpture’, researching the possibilities of ‘microtopia’ and exploring ‘relational art’, HomeBase projects are an urban artistic enquiry about home, humanity and new ways of living. We expose different possibilities of inter-human relations and trace the role of art in transforming our world.
In the seventh year of this journey, I returned back to my home in Israel to build the next HomeBase project in Jerusalem. The project is planned to take place in Fall 2013 in a historic leper hospital. Facing the question of home in the heart of the Middle East, in a complex city which is home to three religions, we decided to take a walk through town with a video camera, asking HomeBase team members, neighbors, and passersby what constitutes the notion of home here?
Traveling through this historic city, through deserted back yards, gardens, narrow alleyways, walls of ancient stone and newly built homes, through traffic jams and shopping malls and bustling markets, glimpsing at balconies, through barred windows, into people’s living rooms, it occurred to me that everywhere you look in Jerusalem someone is praying. The physical rituals involved strike you in such a visceral way—bending; crouching; bowing; mumbling sentences from a sacred book; wrapping up with a scarf or with a leather strap; covering one’s head with a hat, hood or shawl; talking to God; holding on to charms; counting beads; chanting; touching one’s heart; crossing one’s chest; gasping; clapping; dancing; whispering to the clouds; or entering some celestial home.
But the places that light up and open up before me in this city are actually the real homes of artists and cultural leaders who grace this city like gems, shining with talent, insight, social consciousness and progressive, creative vision. Artists who insist on living in Jerusalem bring a trusty and heartfelt warmth. They work collaboratively in the streets and public spaces of the city, outside of the confined boundaries of the studio, the gallery, and the art world.
Here, home for me are these creative leaders, who work towards crossing walls of alienation, weaving the spirit of the city, its sacredness, human factors, mundane realities and contrasts into a vivid tapestry of meanings, a poetry of forms; artists who enable us despite the tension and turmoil, moments of re-imagining Jerusalem as a gateway for connectivity and joy.