Dutch artist Marja Scholten-Reniers has been living in Villingen-Schwenningen for over 20 years. With her project “Heimwehtaschentücher” (Homesickness Handkerchiefs), she tries to express the experience of people who have migrated from all over the world and have settled regionally. She asks these people for a saying in their particular mother tongue that articulates the enigmatic feeling of “home”. The handwritten note that she obtains gets stitched onto a tissue. Since 2009, about 80 pieces have come into existence this way.
Cloth handkerchiefs, especially those with lace and embroidery, communicate the impression of the antique and of hominess. Sayings about homeland and foreign lands are mostly emotionally charged commitments about belonging to a collective or a certain countryside. The title chosen by the artist, “Heimwehtaschentücher” makes a painful experience of loss be heard. Being able to take it everywhere anytime transforms a tissue into a small-scale substitution of home.
In the participants’ notes, individual positions and collective cultural forms of expression flow both in the way of writing and in that of content. The outcome shows an inexhaustible calligraphic diversity as well as a compilation of writings of the world. The spectrum of themes and emotions in content is quite large, The declarations that are given range from defending self-pity, to hopes of luck from any location up to lament about emotional distress that is equated with physical afflictions.