Home and without it – what to take and what to leave behind
January, monochromatic and brutally realistic; it somehow always instigates contemplative inventories. It instigates reflections, anapalepses, looking back at the events that marked the previous year. Apart from one radical life change – going to live abroad, I realized that I changed four living spaces during that time. Four spaces: my family house and my departure from it; my first apartment; a leased apartment abroad and, finally, my first apartment abroad where, by all accounts, I won't be staying for long. Being aware, I suppose, that it is a temporary solution, I didn't inscribe into it the pieces of my emotional life, I don't identify it as my own, even though it is the closest thing I have to a home.
Multitude of apartments, yet homeless
The same feeling of absence I felt while staying in Zagreb during the winter holidays. Where do you return when you come home? The “natural” selection was my family's apartment where memories, close people, and safety reside. However, that turned out to be a rather naive belief – personal things from my bedroom were surgically removed in order to make room for my family. My home was foreign to me. That feeling was connected to the image, to the idea of a home being made up of things as I left them.
Chalayan's performance “Afterwords” from 2000 comes to mind. Although it has clear political connotations dealing with the experiences of transnationalism and identity, I often identify with it on a universal level of meaning. By dressing the models in chair or table covers, Chalayan takes the relationship between the body and the space to the level of emotional absurdity. Leaving home (voluntarily or involuntarily) is always a traumatic process through which space becomes almost anthropomorphized.
I think and write about space as the other/third skin – the primary function of clothes and space being to provide protection and shelter. The space, same as clothes, enwraps the body. But, when/if we chose a life without a “home“, i.e. without constantly inscribing meaning to a space, then a different organization of everyday life and priorities takes place.
First of all, the absence of a fixed space doesn't allow the ownership of many things, and in a way, it liberates from material constraints. One's entire life should fit in one or two suitcases. Or by the airport standards – life is what you can fit in 23 kilos of luggage prescribed by the airline company. So, you need a clear vision of what stays and what goes.
Without a fixed home, books turn into pdf editions, and Dropbox becomes my new walk-in closet. Music and films are assessed on the basis of their memory size. As banal as it might sound, the social networks are becoming my only fixed place: a place which is anticipant of people, which fulfills the need for love and intimacy. All that is mine I carry in my computer. You need to abstract the need for things (make them virtual), but ground the abstraction in memories and emotions.
Taking such a position redefines the meaning of clothes, demanding to find ways of corresponding with the absence of a home. Clothing is the last remaining material instance I carry with me. The clothes have to have the potential to address the needs of an “urban nomad”, to incorporate the ideas of mobility, protection and identity. Fast life requires fast clothes: adaptable, changeable, flexible, light, seasonal. There are no ideal pieces of clothing in your wardrobe, like a favorite dress or an extra jacket, because it just isn't practical when you’re constantly changing locations.
Only with the loss of our physical home, we are able to consciously reduce things to a minimum, redefine our modes of living, and raise awareness of our bodies. We redefine our own liberties, regardless of them being associated with the internet or a camper house.