The Longest Way to Heimat

As the opening frames reveal, Christoph Rehage planned to walk from Beijing to Germany (his homeland). This time lapse chronicles his journey from Beijing to Ürümqi, as part of his ongoing quest in the ‘search for a place called home’ that is now counting in at roughly 4 years, 7 months and 6 days. Not only is the time lapse beautiful, but the entire project is reminiscent of the (coincidentally) German concept of Heimat. The word ‘Heimat’ doesn’t really have an English equivalent, but is usually translated as ‘home’ or ‘homeland’. In media theory, it is often used as a reference point against the sense of absence induced by diaspora, urbanization, or personal isolation. Heimat is the ideal, the place that incurs nostalgia and is encapsulated in memories.

The Czech philosopher Vilém Flusser placed the emphasis more on the ‘who’ of the Heimat than the physical place itself. Although the sounds, smell, and sight of a homeland are of great importance, ultimately it is the people that make it so. I guess the beautiful thing about The Longest Way is the recognition that any search for home has to start with one’s self. And maybe you will grow a grand beard and find Love (2:35) along the way.

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