Nostos is a photo-poetry book in which huang uses the lens of photographing their two grandmothers (now passed), both of whom were residing in Shanghai hospices, in conjunction with an extended essay-poem to better understand the different ways nostalgia manifests. There are 70 editioned copies.
This paper examines nostalgia in Nostos, and nostalgia’s existence as a theoretical global condition arising from displacement, looking at nostalgia specifically not as a yearning for home, but a yearning for a lost sense of feeling at home. It traces the lineage of image-text hybrid art practices and examines the significance of conveying meaning through both synergistically. It studies the psychoanalytic process of transforming loss into object, or absence into presence, ultimately using the object as a lens to view oneself and the way in which nostalgia manifests itself.
“Perhaps most central to locating the parameters of nostalgia within its historical context of displacement is The Future of Nostalgia, in which Svetlana Boym sets out to identify a new aesthetic—the study of nostalgia. In doing so, she maps the beginnings of nostalgia and examines specific imagined homelands of displaced individuals and collectives who “mediate between the local and the universal” (Boym, 12). She makes a Manichean distinction between two facets of nostalgia: restorative nostalgia and reflective nostalgia; she portrays the former as immutable and the latter as productive. While restorative nostalgia seeks to literally reconstruct the lost homeland through perceived nationalist truths, reflective nostalgia makes no attempt to be truthful, delaying the physical homecoming to dwell in a prolonged state of longing and fragmentation, sometimes as a mechanism of survival (xviii). Nostos is a product of reflective nostalgia, indicating that the realities we choose to remember and mentally map out are not necessarily accurate nor truthful. The essay-poem that weaves throughout Nostos is placeless, in that the only identified physical space throughout the poem is the earth itself.”