Atiéna R Kilfa: The Unhomely, Christiana Spens, δημοσίευση στο Studio International [2/3/2023]Marilena Pateraki
In Kilfa’s new video work, which is integrated into an architectural structure, the viewer finds themselves like an Alice in Wonderland figure, unsure of what is big and what is small, what is real and what is imagined
Camden Art Centre, London
27 January – 28 May 2023
The title of The Unhomely, Atiéna R Kilfa’s first UK institutional solo exhibition, is taken from Sigmund Freud’s term unheimlich, the German word that translates literally as “unhomely”, or something not from the home. Freud used the term to mean “uncanny”, but by focusing on and retranslating Freud’s original term, Kilfa reveals the importance of the concept of “the home” in what we think of as the uncanny. The eerie, dislocating sense of the uncanny, it is implied here, lies in a dissonance with the home, and with the family, who may or may not reside there, and in the tensions and confusions about belonging, home and how we organise our lives and identities around those ideas and the realities in which they are rooted.
The Unhomely, or as Kilfa puts it, this sense of interruption, strangeness and ghostliness, is rooted in a fear of that which is not from the home, especially, perhaps, when that thing – that strangeness – is also in one’s home. Kilfa reveals that this strangeness is also found in an absence of homeliness in the home; her structures, her architecture, is “of the home”, but there is a sense that any real sense of the familial, or at least its positive, warm iteration, is very much absent. In her creation, there are ghosts and creaks and confusion, but there is no family in the sense of love or belonging. Rather, there is a feeling of absence, and so of yearning. Kilfa has created a space in which to want and to mourn, but also to be bewildered: what is supposed to be here? What is “the home” supposed to feel like, as opposed to this, the unhomely? In this strangeness, we start to grasp at what home might be, what it could be, and yet the absence and strangeness here gives rise to a troubling anxiety, a fearfulness that it could be lost.
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