Region Around The Heart

42:57 min⎮ Canada ⎮ 2006
experimental documentary

Director ⎮ Camera ⎮ Edit: Stephanie Weimar


Where is home and what is home when the place of origin is no longer the place of belonging but nevertheless constitutes a big part of identity?

As an immigrant from Germany who has lived in England before coming to Canada, the question of where is home has become an intriguing subject and obsession for me.

Where is home and what is home when the place of origin is no longer the place where one feels one belongs but nevertheless constitutes a big part of identity? When I speak to people with similar histories, I find that a sense of being in more than one place at the same time is a very common experience. Although one has physically arrived somewhere, the mind seems to be caught forever in a state of limbo between here and there. Life in the new environment is inevitably experienced against the backdrop of the previous place. The customs, traditions and habits that form such a large part of the self and contribute to a sense of comfort are no longer a natural component of the new every day environment but still exist within the person who migrated. To a large extent, the physical home becomes replaced with an internal one. Home becomes an almost mystic place of desire in the imagination and is highly sentimentalized. This is aggravated by the fact that through new and meaningful experiences away from home the place of origin ceases to be the place of belonging. People often talk about a feeling of estrangement when visiting their original home after longer periods of time. In this sense, home is a place of no return that must be reinvented time after time, every day anew. The attempt to find a home, have a home and feel at home is a constant juggling act, which each migrant handles very differently.For this documentary, I talked to four individuals about their experiences of home: My mother from Germany, who has never left the town she was born in; Mitra, a woman from Iran; Di, a woman from China and Kennedy, a man from Uganda. Although my personal experience is closest to those of the three immigrants, it was my mother who finally provided an answer to my question ‘Where and what is home?’

Region Around the Heart is a four channel video installation projected on four surfaces set up around the viewer like four walls. At times, the viewer finds herself inside a room or at a specific location with the four walls displaying images of the four directions of view. But this cohesion is highly deceptive. Moments later the illusion falls apart and the viewer is in multiple places at the same time. Accompanied by supporting footage and photographs, my four subjects appear to talk to each other. They discuss their different experiences, voice their opinions and agree and disagree with each other. Caught in the middle and being forced to turn towards whoever is speaking, the viewer experiences a profound sense of dislocation and uprootedness.

Screened at:

Anna Leonowen’s Gallery, Halifax, NS, 2007
Htmlles Festival of Digital Art and Media Culture, Montreal, QC, 2010