The fear of returning replaced by the fear of never returning


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December 13th – 26th 2021

Author: Jelena Fužinato

Jelena Fužinato’s work The fear of returning replaced by the fear of never returning for the DIALOG project was created in cooperation with the art space IDEAL in Leipzig and U10 Art Collective in Belgrade. It belongs to the artist’s body of works that express the complexity of expatriation and repatriation processes. They serve as a memory aid, stating the emotional stages and the evolution of thoughts about the subjective position on migration. The fear of returning replaced by the fear of never returning is a sentence that journals the artist’s feelings at the beginning of the expatriation process (2011) and the emotions collected over 10 years (2021).

“In the first stages of migration, it is an existential question. Leaving one’s homeland is an imperative supported by numerous promises of a different life. Fused with ancestral migration experiences, parting gains emotional weight in complex ways. Two stages oppose one another: I cannot imagine returning, against I fantasize about the returning. In the first years, persistent insecurity is dominant, and after that, the resistance to the everyday feeling of otherness develops slowly and imperceptibly over the years. The indefinite moment between these two emotional states is captured in one sentence: The fear of returning replaced by the fear of never returning. All efforts in the first years of migration revolve around not being sent back. The fantasy and promise of living elsewhere gradually replace the growing desire to return. The seeming impossibility of integration takes over, and the homeland becomes a new fantasy place.”

The noted sentence puts together two contradictory arguments trajecting the migrating subject in two separate directions. The common denominator in both cases is fear – as a disabling emotion that maintains diasporic determination as the primary identifying characteristic. The words on the billboards in Leipzig and Belgrade reveal only part of the phrase. They are assigned to the geographical location of the respective anxiety sensation. The words are captured like frozen moments in the ever-fluctuating emotional development of statelessness.

Photo: Marijana Janković