"Heima/t is the last look at a time full of deprivation, of loss in both senses, of home in Germany and home abroad.
The total of almost three thousand descendants of the Esja women today only give an idea of the extent to which German women must have shaped Icelandic society and culture."
Artist: Marzena Skubatz
Heima is the Icelandic word for home, homeland.
In the Duden dictionary, the German word Heimat is defined as a country, part of a country or place in which one was [born and] grew up or in which one feels at home through permanent residence (often as an emotional expression of close attachment to a particular area).
But what happens when you leave the place where you were born and grew up? What if you never return to that place? Where is "home" then and what is "home"?
Is it a place or a feeling and how much of it remains when life continues in a foreign country?
These questions have preoccupied me since 1988 - at the age of ten - when I had to leave my former home, a farm in Poland, to start a new life in Germany.
For my project "Heima/t", I traveled to my temporary "adopted country" Iceland to find German women who emigrated to Iceland as young girls after the Second World War to start a new life there.
They were recruited by the Icelandic Farmers' Association in 1949 to help out on rural farms where there was a shortage of women. Today, the call is seen as a "marriage advertisement" in disguise.
I visited eleven of the women and one man who were still alive at the time and their farms. I wanted to find out more about their reasons for starting a new life in a foreign country at such a young age. Above all, however, I was interested in in the question “What and where is their homeland?” I wanted to find out whether and how women who have reached the age of almost ninety and have lived in a “foreign” country for over half a century can answer this question for themselves.
As different as the encounters with the “Esja women” were, their trauma was still clearly felt by everyone. Almost seventy years after their arrival in Iceland, the women were ready to talk about their experiences. Their lives are marked by loss and fear but also by tremendous courage to start a new life.
“Heima/t” is the last look at a time full of deprivation, of loss in both senses, of home in Germany and home abroad.
The total of almost three thousand descendants of the Esja women today only give an idea of the extent to which German women must have shaped Icelandic society and culture.
© Marzena Skubatz
Curator / Editor : Ecaterina Rusu