Weight of the Human Heart: An installation by Nancy de Freitas

This exhibition is now closed

A multi-sensory installation examining notions of perceived identity.

'The past, with its complexities and its elemental, incorruptible memories, is etched permanently but coloured differently in the present day light.'
Nancy de Freitas, 2004

Personal histories and concepts of 'home' and 'belonging' have long interested West-Indies-born, Auckland-based artist Nancy de Freitas. Her multi-sensory installation for the Gallery, Weight of the Human Heart, combines light, sculpture, projection and sound, encouraging viewers to experience what de Freitas describes as an interior sensation a private reconnaissance of the conceptual space of the heart.

Part of an ongoing body of work, the exhibition suggests the artist's fascination with the new identities immigrants and exiles build as they resettle and form attachments to unfamiliar places. As de Freitas comments, cultural materials such as tradition, memory and identity are preserved, reconstructed, perhaps questioned and sometimes discarded. What are the cues to our awareness of what home and history mean for us? In this context, the exhibition title reflects the artist's wish to evoke something of the emotional weight that is a consequence of dislocation.

A long time ago, maybe decades ago, or in my imagination, I read or was told that the weight of the human heart was about the weight of a handful of earth. The heart has the potential to stand for the inner life of a person, which is precisely where the understanding of 'home' is located. I like the reference to weighing up or considering and the idea of measuring a part of the whole, a fragment. Weight of the Human Heart is made up of fragmentary components, each measured out in small portions, and the notions of home, remembrance and movement versus immobility are strong themes.

Felicity Milburn

Text courtesy B.136


  • Date:
    2 April – 27 June 2004
  • Exhibition number: