The Art of Being German (Die Kunst Deutscher Zu Sein)
Photography, digital collage
30 cm x 40 cm/ 11.8″ x 15.75″
Series of 10 images
At Home is my adaptation of the project The Art of Being A German, a group project that has started in 2002. Analyzing my personal background of a migrant first, I decided to emphasize Germany as a multicultural country, a country of immigration with a rich, cultural diversity. It is difficult for me to understand the state of national belonging whether described as German, French, Polish et al, as to me the term “nationality” is a simulacrum. It is arguable for sure, but isn’t it rather geography and nature that influences the human soul? Eventually the system that we create to dwell in and that sets the parameters for social behavior and interaction. Seen from this point of view, I decided to portray a person from former Eastern Germany as well. Surprisingly the emotional dilemma was of a very similar quality to those who are rooted in very different cultures compared to the Western one.
It is the 2nd generation of young german adults with a migration background, that I focus on. They were either born in Germany or they immigrated with their parents when they were still children. They have a german passport and thus can be considered german citizens. Though the young women and men speak the german language perfectly, they are differently well integrated.
They are still often seen as “foreigners” by the society and confronted with xenophobic attitudes. Even though this can not be generalized, it doesn’t make it easier to these young people to be part of the society they live in.
My question whether they feel at home in Germany or not, was not easy to respond by the portrayed. Based on individual experience, their emotional state shifts from feeling ‘at home’ but also feeling like a ‘stranger’ in Germany.
Their life is about finding the right balance between two cultures. One remembered or known from stories told by their parents only and the culture they currently live in.