Home is Where the Hearth is II – Displacement

A graphic showing the word "displacement" with the letters jumbled up

Departure | Displacement | Restoration


Displacement from home is an uncomfortable feeling. It breeds suspicion and a feeling of nervousness, and rightly so. If, as previously discussed, home is a refuge, then displacement from home must create an opposing effect.

A graphic showing the word "displacement" with the letters jumbled up

During displacement there is a chaotic element. People find it hard to settle; rules can change regularly if moving from

one place

to another.

Everything becomes temporary.

And abrupt.

The sanctuary is no longer available, and it takes some getting used to a new social system (i.e. different customs, ideas etc.).

A good friend once told me that if you’re not struggling, you’re not learning anything.

Displacement is an unusual phenomenon. Some people take to it like a duck to lava. Others fare worse.

Learning different customs or different ways of living are part of the experience of displacement. The faster and easier someone can learn the social order of a place, the easier they can adjust. This was true even in harsh circumstances, such as the long imprisonment of the Moroccan soldiers who spent twenty years in darkness at Tazmamart, lost from home, but learned to live by creating new ways to adapt. But this does not become akin to a home, the place of refuge, the pivot of life. Unless there is a place that one can associate with as the central point of their existence, a person cannot claim to be at home.

A distorted and blurred photograph of an abandoned building

  • The way that people settle when they have to travel for long periods is often to use objects to create stability. The artist Martin Kippenberger created a large series of drawings that he sketched on different hotel notepads that were in each of the hotels he visited, which amounted to a very large number in his short life. These drawings are partly a reflection of his state of mind at any given time, but also draw interesting links with the importance of stability in constant displacement. The repetition of the task of creating these artworks is part of the appeal for the artist, and for the viewer, in seeing the patterns that emerge through consistent displacement.

Displacement essentially means a detachment from a place. During a period of displacement people must deal with the


and to forget the

social order that they are used to,

and in particular the privacy of home. Possibly the most poignant example of mass displacement today can be found in countries like Palestine or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where people have been forced to live away from their homes as the sanctuary and security of home is not there to be found.

Displaced          people           move,           shuffle,          abandon sanctuary           for          perpetual           placelessness.

And this is where learning occurs. People learn when they struggle. And these lessons, even if they take generations, can eventually be brought home. The displacement of over half of the Irish population during the tragedy of the Irish famine has led to a diaspora with an association to home across the globe.

But there is always some form of retribution, some return to normalcy, that brings to a conclusion even the most protracted meandering. Whether that return is through the end of a life or the end of a journey, the end does arrive for every individual eventually. To the conclusion → Restoration.

All images in this post are my own and subject to copyright unless stated. I don’t mind reproductions, but please credit them to this blog or contact (contactmoonunderwater@gmail.com) for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *