Home Away From Home
My concept for the ACC exhibition was shaped by a growing sense of dislocation, losing the notion of home as I have been away from Germany for over twenty years. As I felt more familiar in Cairo, my adopted home since 2012, I began to think about how I could define home in all its various forms beyond imagining a physical space or geographical location. The concept of Homing Devices by Sarah Ahmad appealed to me as I began with daily drawings and photographs to find out what home really means. How do we occupy space at home as home, and what happens when we leave home?
During this process, my body became a crucial part of being at home in the world without the security of a physical home.
I started researching my own and other people›s relationship to their body by paying attention to the individual, social and political body, which, “inscribes its thoughts, emotions, meanings, and memories onto the space, and in the process is transformed”. (Reena Tiwari)
Searching for a Body-Home
My diagnosis of breast cancer in 2019 brutally forced me to rethink my notion of home, the idea of the body as home and my chosen home as a place to heal. I left Cairo in a state of shock and began a one and half year long treatment in Berlin. During this time, which was shaped by physical and psychological changes,
I had to reinvent my own Homing Devices in order to make sense of such an unsafe and unreliable body-home. Writing a diary became a tool to record and understand what was happening to me.
"I am shocked I forgot crying in the hospital foyer. Am I blanking out moments too painful to remember? Are there other times I chose to erase from my memory? How am I editing my experiences and what else am I editing out? How does this change the narrative I am writing? Do I need to document much more frequently what is happening and how I feel?"
The resulting art works are an insight into the experience of being confronted with my own mortality, and an attempt to getting closer to the essence of life. Photographing, drawing and writing became a means of expression and a way of life, intimate testimonies of fragility and resilience from a time of living upside down. The German title of the exhibition Kopfüberleben refers not only to this way of living but simultaneously indicates survival of the mind.
"During therapy, I regularly stood in front of the camera to document my radically changing body in a series of self-portraits. At the time of my cancer diagnosis I felt extremely healthy, yet I was seriously ill. After seven months of chemotherapy I felt extremely ill without knowing whether I would get well again. Healing is a mysterious place, one can easily get lost on the way... and for a long time, you don’t know if you have arrived."
Attempting to search for a body-home during my healing process, I hope for insights into how to link a personal experience with broader, common, everyday lived narratives. How do we tell our experiences of illness and suffering? How do we transform personal life experience into knowledge that contributes to collective memory? And how can the concept of home be deconstructed, questioned and reinvented? Where is my home and where is yours?
Self Portraits, Photographs, 2019–20
I Feel Like Home, It Feels Like Home, Stop-Motion-Film, 2018–20
Lost, Objects and Photographs, 2019
Second Body, Performance, 2020
Yvonne Buchheim (*1972) was born and raised in Weimar (East Germany). After unification, she studied in Munich before living in Belfast (Northern Ireland), Dublin (Ireland) and Bristol (UK). As an artist and educator, she is interested in questioning the role of art in everyday life. She is an interdisciplinary artist often working in public and social contexts where she engages audiences in unexpected ways, from intentional participation to incidental observation. With the resulting artworks she seeks to reveal the complex set of relationships among herself, the public and the significance of place. For her long- term Song Archive Project she received a scholarship from the ACC Gallery and the city of Weimar for the 9th International Studio Program in 2003 and was awarded a monograph publication in 2011.
Moving to Cairo in 2012 she witnessed a society in change and became aware of herself as an outsider. From this position she turned the camera onto herself, allowing personal experience to become a catalyst to shape her new artistic work. Her current practice consists of drawings and photographs that appear to come alive in stop-motion animations alongside personal narratives reflecting on loss, identity and belonging. These intimate themes aim to connect with wider social concerns focusing on our sense of self- image in a fragmented world.
Yvonne taught for ten years at the University of the West of England and moved to Egypt where she continued with educational and art projects in the Middle East. Her pedagogical projects usually combine theory with practice to explore how we understand and value different forms of knowledge. She taught Fine Art at the American University of Cairo before joining the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, where she led the Arts and Culture field in 2015/16. In 2017 she was co-curator of Spring Sessions, an annual 100-day learning program and artist residency in Amman, Jordan.
The exhibition Kopfüberleben is Yvonne Buchheim's most comprehensive solo exhibition over twenty rooms (400 m2) of the ACC Gallery Weimar.
Curriculum Vitae (Download)
What Does Your Body Know, Photographs, 2019
Balancing Exercises, Objects, 2019 – 20
The Present Rearranges the Past, Photographic Series, 2019
Abstract Healing, Drawings, 2019–20