Nationality is lost, homeland is lethal, where to land

16. October - 27 November 2020
Verein Kollektiv, Maurachgasse 10, Bregenz

The exhibition nationality is lost, homeland is lethal, where to land reflects experiences and missteps of the work heumat, which was presented in vienna in 2019. In a performative and exploratory way, the artist set off on a journey through vienna with pressed today. The focus was on the fundamental criticism of a retrotopia, a nationalistic and nostalgic idea of homeland - and today, as an ad-absurdum guided symbolisation of its burden.

nationality is lost, homeland is lethal, where to land is a cross-spatial concept that attempts to dissect the nostalgic idea of heimat with performative and installative elements - in order to cool down, to detach from it and to ground itself.

The afterlife of a canceled future?
Exhibition Review by Anne Zühlke, Curator Dock 20, Lustenau, AUT

With the exhibition "Nationality is lost, Homeland is lethal, where to land" by Lukas Weithas, the "Kollektiv Raum für" in Bregenz puts the symbols and the materiality of alpine culture up for debate.

In his final thesis "Heumat" from 2019, Weithas already dealt with the identity constructions and historical images of the Alpine regions.  As a border crosser between alpine agriculture and visual art, he focuses on the examination of real spaces and materials, their economic and cultural embedding as well as their media and social representation. In his installation, different media spheres intermingle: Documentary photographs in light boxes of himself are embedded in a ton of neatly raked potting soil, flanked by red lava lamps, the kitschy interior artifacts of the nineties. Above the light boxes hang the hay bales threatened by decay, which Weithas already used in his work "Heumat" (2019) as an indexical reference to his ambivalent relationship to culture and nature. In his video work "Zerstörung meiner Heumat" (2019), the audience was not able to follow the destruction of the first generation of hay bales live, but was mediated by a chest strap camera in first person shooter style.

On the one hand, there is the personal attachment and professional striving for the Alpine region as a place to grow up and work as an alpine farmer over the summer months, on the other hand, there is the discomfort about the construction of national identities and the increasingly ahistorical traditions and rituals of the never-ending past, which can be found both in outwardly directed landscape marketing and inwardly directed discourse of alterity. The uneasiness with their own role in this system underlies their dialectic. Only the privilege of Weithas to belong "to it" to know the codes and the grammar of the environment makes the formulation of an audible voice possible, which can express itself critically. In it, a reproduction of the existing always takes place. A possible way out? A loop perhaps. A time loop, in which condition and consequence reproduce themselves to such an extent that breaks occur.

"What should haunt us is not the no longer of actually existing social democracy [for example], but the not yet of the futures that popular modernism trained us to expect but which never materialised. These spectres - the spectres of lost futures - reproach the formal nostalgia of the capitalist realist world." (Mark Fisher)

It was Jaques Derrida and Mark Fisher who established the term "Hauntology" as a term for the decay of temporality in (pop) culture (Fisher) and the lack of alternatives of capitalism (Derrida), coupled with a ghostly fear of the not-yet-entered since the mid-20th century.  They describe the eternal retro, the warmed-up present as a lukewarm remake of previous decades and the fear of the collapse of the existing order disguised as the only possible version of the present and the only possible blueprint for the future. For Derrida and Fisher, "Hauntology" is the description of a fear of an alternative reality, which in culture leads to an endless repetition and homage to yesterday.

The personal location in the context of social construction, decay and standstill are the central dispositives of the current spatial installation "Nationality is lost, Homeland is lethal, where to land" in Bregenz. The gothic and at the same time sterile exhibition display leads over the many breaks that arise through the different temporalities of the objects into an infinite time loop. While the video work "Zerstörung meiner Heumat" (2019) can be seen in one corner of the exhibition space, three color photographs from the work "Heumat", which show Weithas carrying hay, are distributed on the floor as grave-like light boxes. On the one hand the human being as an active, destructive, yet determining subject, on the other hand he is already buried and exists only as a media blueprint of himself, with diffuse lighting from the past. In both cases it is the same person and yet under different signs. Weithas does not offer a solution or a way out with his work. Instead, his work offers a precise reflection of the individual interweaving and involvement in seemingly abstract structures of capitalist life worlds under the sign of retrospection.