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How can our understanding of history and reality be enhanced through an intensification of subjectivity, thereby altering the relationship between the two? Thomas Heise explores this question through Heimat Is a Space in Time, a three-hour, 40-minute recantation of his family history. It consists of Heise reading his ancestors’ letters and diaries over his own contemporary footage of landscapes, trains, and documents. The relationships between the sounds and images are by turns ironic, contrapuntal, associative, and sometimes incongruous.
The documentary tracks German history from the onset of World War I to life after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The title hints at the resulting political complexity. Heimat, sometimes translated roughly to “homeland,” refers not just to geography but the emotional ties and culture associated with it. It was Hitler’s word for what he wanted to protect, but it was also popular with exiles and dissidents to describe feelings of displacement and alienation due to war and the division (and later reunification) of Germany.
Accusations of dryness and academia are bound to assail any such description, but one of the most remarkable things about Heimat is how dramatic it is. After elegantly introducing us to Wilhelm Heise (the director’s grandfather), his eventual wife Edith Hirschhorn, and her family purely through the ordering of letters, the film divulges their Nazi-era correspondences. Over the course of 24 minutes, these missives gradually move from annoyed to desperate as the camera pans down documents listing the names of Viennese Jews deported to death camps. It is both aesthetically daring and narratively riveting, and the film maintains this feeling for the nearly three hours that follow.
It is difficult to tell stories of people who did not expect the Nazis to go as far as they did, or of foreigners who doubted the seriousness of Hitler’s militancy; tragic irony always threatens to overwhelm the text. Heise does not find a way to avoid that irony (as if it could ever truly be avoided), but he does weaponize it for his own purpose, demonstrating how the forces of history shape how we maintain personal relationships. As time passes, letters transform from materialist to philosophical (Heise’s father was a renowned philosopher), but that shift only complicates the relationship between the subjective and objective. In the midst of history seeming to “restart” some 30 years after Francis Fukuyama declared its end, one could hardly imagine a more productive film.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
In 1850, when Dr. Robert W. Gibbes commissioned J. T. Zealy to make daguerreotypes of persons held in slavery in and around Columbia, South Carolina, for Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz to use in support of his theory that African people were a separate species, daguerreotypes were at the height of fashion.
“Ecosystem X,” an art-based reimagining of life on planet Earth, is the theme of this open call. 10 artists will win $5,000 and one student will receive $5,000 as a scholarship/stipend.
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.