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Heike Löwenstein’s ‘Heimat’.
This commentary examines Löwenstein’s series of pictures in the context of wider German history and demonstrates the difficulties inherent in the personal photo study in such an overarching and pervasive context.
The correlation with Walter Abish’s ‘How German is It’ informs the commentary in two ways. First, by comparison, ‘Heimat’s’ elliptical, ambiguous images can be seen to be operating in much the same way as Abish’s detatched, distanced language. Second, the use of ‘How German is It’ as a counterpoint places ‘Heimat’ within a broad spectrum of examinations of history and memory.
Framed in this way, Löwenstein’s pictures demonstrate, again, how the straight photograph can transcend the limitations of merely recording ‘that which was there’. Moreover that the photo series, this photo series, occupies the same contemplative space usually associated with language and so shifts the medium from essentially descriptive to analytical, enquiring and reflective.
Löwenstein’s ‘Heimat’ places photography practice as a part of the various ways in which we attempt to make sense of and reconcile the contested space of memory, history and identity formations.
john donaldson, meatyard arts 2010