Re-claiming the lost home: The politics of nostalgia and belonging in women's art practices in the Middle East

Hitting home: representations of the domestic milieu in feminist art

Keywords: Uncanny, home, exile, migration, belonging, nostalgia


In recent years, discourses on migration and movement have been featured prominently in contemporary art and curatorial practices. For example, during the past decade, the migration crisis was a central theme for several pavilions at the Venice Biennale. Considering current developments, understanding critical issues regarding the migratory experience is a matter of urgency. This article addresses the issue of how the migratory experience is articulated in the works of women artists who use domestic objects to create uncanny environments that represent their contested homelands. This article also emphasises women’s experiences, as women have frequently been marginalised from official histories. Through visual analysis of the works, a new perspective is gained in understanding women artists’ strategies when representing their home in exile, and their homeland (both ‘lost’ and existing). The discussion unpacks projects that use ‘un-homely devices’ to re-construct the experience of ‘home’: home as a site of personal and family histories, and home as the place of danger and distress. It will specifically examine the work of Klitsa Antoniou, Lia Lapithi, Raeda Saadeh, and Andrea Shaker, all of whom have challenged in their practice the concepts of ‘home’, ‘exile’, and ‘belonging’.