Home is where the heart is. Such is the absurdly banal basis of many a more elaborate paean to the notions of homeland or Heimat: sentimental childhood memories of the backyard sublime, compiled and constructed in a language that seems obvious and impervious to deconstruction. In his cycle Heimat, poet Christoph Szalay contrasts this unassailability of the commonplace with the love-hate relation of the poet who is at home in a language with permanently shifting, necessarily cosmopolitan boundaries. His visual poem—exhibited as an art work in steirischer herbst—presents a side-by-side comparison, a little like the ones familiar from the early 20th century Viennese School of art history, which would contrast Nordic contours to Southern sfumato. The left side of Szalay’s poems always presents pseudo-poetic definitions of home taken from an online video produced by the so-called identitarian movement of the New Right, in fragments and overwritten with small notes and drawings. The right-hand side presents the uneasy self-location of poetic consciousness. The poet dwells in poetic ready-mades, in fragments of theory, etymological deliberations, and metonymic chains, with English fugues breaking into the German text, which itself constantly seems on the verge of imploding. Two worlds collide, their tension impossible to resolve. For steirischer herbst, Christoph Szalay exhibits his poems in the cloister of Minoritenkloster in an installation format, using folk-style embroidery techniques of the kind used to convey edifying messages in the Austrian heartland.
Commissioned and produced by steirischer herbst
Excerpts from works and texts by:
Isaiah Berlin, Mujeres Creando, Rosa Fischer, Charles Fréger, Phyllis Galembo/Chika Okeke-Agulu, Viktor Geramb, Bernhard Giesen/Kay Junge, Hermann Glaser, Kendrick Lamar, Thomas de Maizière, Agnieszka Polska, Bénédicte Savoy, Martin Sellner, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Danh Vō, Paul Werner
Drawings of fences: Bettina Landl
Christoph Szalay (1987, Graz) is a poet and was a professional ski jumper and cross-country skier. His poems and prose push medial boundaries, crossing over to visual poetry and performance art. He lives in Graz.