14 06 2024
– 01 09 2024

NOSTOS – Homecoming

Date: 14.06 – 01.09.2024
14.06.2024, 6 PM
Venues: Günter Grass Gallery in Gdańsk, ul. Szeroka 37

Artistic people: Diana Rönnberg, Jenny Larsson, Ninja Agborn, Krystallia Sakellariou, Michał Kowalczys, Tomek Zerek
Curators: Diana Rönnberg, Maria Sasin
Visual identification: Ania Witkowska


NOSTOS – Homecoming


We look at the world once, in our childhood, the rest is memory.[1]

Louise Glück


The concept of nostos derives from ancient Greek literature and refers to “returning home after a grand adventure”. The most famous example of nostos is Homer’s Odyssey, where the main character Odysseus, separated from his family by the events of the Trojan War, tries to return to them by sea, facing terrible challenges of body and soul. Returning home via a sea voyage was considered a high level of heroism in ancient culture, and those who managed to do so were considered heroes, celebrated with special songs of homecoming.


In the 17th century, it was observed that soldiers, sailors, and immigrants who were away from home suffered from crying attacks, insomnia, irregular heartbeats, lack of appetite and depression, which sometimes even led to suicide. As a result of research on this phenomenon, the concept of nostalgia was born, constructed by the medical student Johannes Hofer, who in his dissertation entitled Dissertatio medica de nostalgia, published in 1688, combined two Greek words: „nostos”, the definitions of which we already know, and „algos”, meaning sadness or despair.


Although the roots of the term nostalgia are related to a condition considered to be a mental illness, today we colloquially understand it as a rather ambivalent state, drifting between melancholy and a soothing sentiment. This bittersweet feeling, accompanied by longing and the desire to return to a specific place or time, sharply portrays the oxymoron in Tarkovsky’s statement. During conflicts related to the filming of the film The Sacrifice, the director reportedly screamed to the Swedish film crew: „I want to go home! I want to be where I don’t want to be!”[2]


The concept of nostos, although ancient, still echoes in the modern world. In the era of global migration and displacement, the longing for home and the return journey have never been more relevant. The artists invited to the exhibition derive from two geographical points strongly connected, on the one hand with the Baltic Sea, and on the other with Kattegat’s waters on the west coast of Sweden. Each of them refers in a different way to nature and the life-giving force of „water, this flowing matter [in which] there is nothing permanent”[3]. The creators engage in a dialogue with the topography of their own family and romantic relationships, referring to longing and remembrance. Navigating the odyssey of life, their work reminds us of the power of anchoring in the world, in art, in relationships with others, or perhaps within oneself.


What do homecomings mean after a great adventure, and what does it feel like to be at home, whether in the forest, in the countryside, at mom’s, or swaying on a boat?


[1] Nostos from Meadowlands, year 1996.

[2] E. Josephson, En natt i den svenska sommaren, translated by: D. Rönnberg, Umeå 2011, p. 46.

[3] Jan Heweliusz, Selenography, p. 156.





Grafika do wystawy.