marker and digital media
My mind, my homeland
of ever-widening borders
where peace is everlasting
under Love’s sovereign rule
The Treaty of Trianon, signed in 1920, ended World War I, but started another war of identity and sovereignty among the Hungarian people which continues to this day, in many ways, both seen and unseen. The former Kingdom of Hungary was broken up in the losses of WWI, and Hungary lost over 70% of its land, more than 60% of its population, important cities, institutions, and a devastating amount of natural resources. Millions of ethnic Hungarians found themselves as minorities – sometimes forbidden to speak their native language, practice their heritage, or participate in politics – in bordering countries. It was a traumatic blow to the Hungarian culture, and the ripples continue to rock politics and personal relationships over 100 years later.
On the other hand, Romania gained a wealth of resources in Transylvania, and celebrates the December 1 acquisition from Trianon as “Unification Day,” the national holiday. The people of both countries suffered greatly from Nazi occupation and slaughter in WWII, and Communist/Soviet control through the end of the Cold War.
Stuck in the middle of these traumatic histories, victories, and massively disorienting geo-political changes are the dual citizens, displaced minorities, ethnic “others.” They exist in all countries, but personal to me are the Hungarian Transylvanians – ethnic Hungarians who suddenly became citizens of Romania when the borders were redrawn. As the Communist regime pressed Romanian culture into its new territories and forced assimilation, then diversity expanded as the European Union erased lines and joined economies, many Hungarians have found themselves in a constant identity crisis for the last century. The fight for a homeland and people drags on, geo-politically, culturally, and mentally. Some people wish to re-unite the historical kingdom of Hungary, causing tensions in the disputed territories and populations. Some simply wish to be who they are, wherever they are.
Some people say that we “choose” the events on our life path to fulfill a specific purpose of our soul; others that we simply make the same mistakes over and over and so repeat patterns; still others believe that an epic story is written for us to discover its parallels and metaphors; whatever the reason, I, self-appointed Empress of Identity Crises and Eternal Hater of Change and Difficult Emotions, walked smack dab into the middle of the Trianon trauma by falling in love with Romania, marrying a Hungarian Transylvanian, then moving to Budapest to develop an attachment to Hungary.
Whether this path resonated with me because I myself struggled with my labels and identity, or it’s just that I can see the parallels because I’ve explored so deeply my personal crises, or it’s just all a big coincidence, or maybe my husband and I unknowingly bonded over our “outsider” feelings, I do not know. What I do know, and will always embrace, is that knowing my self helps me to know more of the great big world, and the world teaches me many great big things about myself.
Over the summer in Budapest, I found this sticker stuck to some playground equipment - "Our Homeland". I’ve always been fascinated by the historical Kingdom of Hungary’s likeness to a brain. Self-healing in the last 6 years has increased my fascination with my own brain, particularly the sheer power of my mind over matter and destiny, in physical health, mental health, social and cultural changes, and the disorienting chaos of the Roaring 2020’s. The sticker is, in fact, from a political party ("Our Homeland"). I have no affiliation with, or even commentary on, the party’s agenda.
My work is neither in support of nor a challenge to this party, or any political, social, ethnic, or geographic entity. It is not an appropriation of culture nor a claim of representation. It is a personal statement: that though I suffer grief, though I bear the scars of generational trauma, though powers higher than I control the world I live in, with or without any democratic input from myself, though I immigrate and emigrate, and integrate multiple cultures into my personal experience and bloodline, though my borders and boundaries are constantly being redrawn and compromised, my sovereign homeland rests firmly in my head. Within these sacred and indivisible borders, I am always free. Free to love, free to create, free to be who I am, no matter what name, label, law, or passport gets affixed to the outside. I declare independence of thought and freedom of spirit. I declare Love as sovereign ruler.
“Home is where you hang your hat” – anywhere you carry your head.