Exhibition views, five 55" screens, screen size wall texts on paper, Fotozentrum Winterthur 2017


Photographs and text fragments displayed in shifting sequences on five screens, 7′ 10″ loop; screen-size wall texts on paper.


     Alongside natural disasters and pandemics, the Swiss government regards migration as a risk demanding preparedness.[1] Official emergency planning documents lay out a scenario where an influx of refugees seriously endangers public safety. While this may not be a threat in the conventional sense, they say, there is no room for complacency.


     A Swiss newspaper of July 5, 2015, describes a country looking to close itself off. A supposedly eternal nation is held aloft, while there seems to be no place for Switzerland in the interconnected global village. The author calls for a shift in the narrative, a systematic, coherent national history for a nation whose success rests on learning and change. Max Frisch discusses the meaning of Heimat, or homeland, in his acceptance speech for the 1974 Schiller Prize for literature. What does Heimat consist of, he asks: bricks and mortar, landscape as “the stage of life,” dialect as marker of (not) belonging, ideology, literature, territory?[2]


      Matters of Negotiation approaches Switzerland from the margins, circling along the country’s territorial limits. Where does Switzerland begin, and where does it end? Who lives within, and who remains without? What conflicts arise through the drawing of borders? And how are frontiers defined, modified, defended and overcome?


[1] The 2015 Swiss emergency preparedness report sets out to improve the country’s disaster response and security policy, in order to “enhance Switzerland’s resilience”. Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz in Zusammenarbeit mit Ernst Basler + Partner AG, Katastrophen und Notlagen Schweiz – Technischer Risikobericht 2015  (Bern: Bundesamt für Bevölkerungsschutz, 2015).

[2] Max Frisch, “Die Schweiz als Heimat? Rede zur Verleihung des Großen Schillerpreises 1974”, in Gesammelte Werke in zeitlicher Folge, vol. VI, ed. Hans Mayer, assisted by Walter Schmitz (Frankfurt am Main, 1976).


Matters of Negotiation was created in the context of Unfamiliar Familiarities, an initiative of Swiss Foundation for Photography and Musée de l'Elysée, supported by Swiss Tourism.


            Detail, 7′ 10″ loop, simulation



Detail, wall texts