2009 : 2008 : 2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003 : 2002 : 2001 : 2000 : 1999 : 1998 : 1997 : 1996 : 1995 : 1994

programthematic project seriesconcept

introduction : concept : artistic contributions : symposium
CONCEPT [Chapter 1] [Chapter 2] [Chapter 3]

Work Sketch: Colonialism without Colonies?
Relations between Tourism, Neo-Colonialism and Migration
Second Thematic Project Series
Sønke Gau/Katharina Schlieben
in dialogue with on the way to: From/To Europe

Colonial matrix
In 2005/2006, Shedhalle’s Thematic Project Series will address the question of colonial, post-colonial and neo-colonial relations. At the center of this artistic, academic and curatorial research and exhibition project are exotic medial image productions, the tourism industry, and links between migrant movements and neo-colonial political economies. The idea is to take these themes and discourses, which can open a very broad field of possible links at first, and join them together and question their contexts. In our view, it is thus not so much the investigation of the themes themselves that are important as it is an analysis of and a focusing of attention on the intersections and the relations. The hybrid of these fields demands that the various aspects be joined together in analysis. A curatorial effort should thus be made to develop a number of artistic and academic formats over the period of a year, and to understand artistic practice as research.

Colonialism without colonies?
Anglo-American post-colonial studies investigate the models of hybrid identity construction, being-in-between, transgression and translation that shape the political ability to act of the “Other.” The starting point is no longer the “self,” the nation, the colony, the gender, or the ethos, nor is the experience of difference localized “outside” any longer; it has instead been determined to be the experience of one’s “own” difference (Butler). In Strangers to Ourselves, building on Freud’s theory of the uncanny, Julia Kristeva formulates this experience of difference as an intersubjective construction of the following sort: “The Other is my own subconscious (my unconscious self).” The discussions developed by Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Julia Kristeva and others in the late 1970s and in the 1980s demand a questioning of the antagonistic models of “colonizer/colonized,” “victim/perpetrator,” and “Self/Other.” Through a reflection on models like these, an exploring of colonial relations and a political positioning also touches on those not directly bound to a colonial past: Can one speak here of a colonialism without colonies? Victoria Schmidt-Linsenhoff notes that a critical appraisal of the colonial visual gaze regime, its concepts of the image and its iconographies is indispensable for a post-colonial culture: Reflecting on the particularity of one’s own perspective and placing it in an anticipated space of post-colonialism makes possible, on the one hand, a recognition of the inscription of colonial violence in European cultural history and the cultural present, and on the other hand makes possible not fixing the Others as mute objects of representation, but rather recognizing them as cultural actors who have always returned and shaped the Eurocentric discoverers’ gaze. The project series seeks to make post-colonial structures apparent. Questioning and analysing would therefore be the antagonistic models in a hybrid intercultural society, and at the same time the process of repositioning and positioning that can only be political when it behaves antagonistically.

What does this have to do with Switzerland?
Does the question of “colonials without colonies” help us here? If one wishes to participate in the discourse on post-colonial structures, an examination of the construction of “Self” and “Other” will require a self-referential negotiation. What does this have to do with Switzerland? – Or: Why are typical colonial goods like chocolate and coffee so prominent in Switzerland? Switzerland, like other countries that have never held colonies, must be integrated into a political post-colonial research and reappraisal; it must also develop its own political attitude to this. The concept of the colonial must be readjusted. To avoid the dichotomy of “perpetrator/victim,” and its accordant difficulties of mutual blame, it is important to investigate, not former colonial powers per se, but rather patterns of colonial action that find their reflection in relationships of dependency. As Kien Nghi Ha writes in his publication Ethnizität und Migration (Ethnicity and Migration), post-coloniality is “at its core not a chronological epochal term marking the period after formal political independence from the Western colonial power, but instead a politically motivated category of analysis for the historical, political, cultural and discursive aspects of the unfinished colonial discourse.” Post-colonial visual gaze regimes and configurations of power are not confined to chronologically and/or spatially limited historical processes, but instead structure social relations and reproduce themselves in them. Where do these neo-colonial structures reappear? Operating with medial exoticizing image production, migrant movements and neo-colonial economic relationships requires a multiperspectival view: a gaze conscious, on the one hand, of the influences of the colonial historical matrix, one including a self-reflexivity as to its own subjective point of view, on the other hand one pursuing an examination of the current global economic relationships that organize imports and exports through criteria of inclusion and exclusion.

In projects to come, we wish to investigate the following thematic aspects and analyze their connections to one another:

Chapter 1: The tourism industry and exoticizing medial image production
(October 28, 2005 - January 15, 2006)

Cultural self-understanding and ideas about foreign countries are fed at the edge of the horizon of subjective experience, and they feed from the vast reservoir of medially conveyed images. Here the tourism industry plays a central role, since it always produces, or rather enacts, visual regimes on the putative “Other.” In Switzerland, where the tourism sector has much economic significance, touristic enactments and perceptions, as well as the ascriptions and mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion connected to them, should be investigated. It is interesting that the name “Switzerland” makes frequent appearances on the globe. What is the appeal of “Switzerland elsewhere” (Peruvian Switzerland, African Switzerland, Saxon Switzerland, etc.)? Within its borders, Switzerland produces images of itself, and these images of Switzerland are produced outside Switzerland as well. The interrelationships between colonialists and Europe reappear as cultural forms in the tourism and culture industries. The exhibition project inquires into the contemporaneousness and the history of exoticizing image productions, into the intersubjective experience of difference in the context of the present, and into tourism as consumption of signs and images.

Artistic contributions:
[Backes] [Burlingham] [Kumschick] [Lanzinger] [Mayer/Mettler/Ronca]
[Ponger] [Reichstein] [Rekacewicz] [Sircar] [Wong]

In dialogue with
[From/To Europe #1]

[Symposium, 17. December 2005]
While taking heterogeneous perspectives into account, the symposium aims to examine the production of exotic media images, within the context of the Thematic Project Series Colonialism without Colonies? Relations between Tourism, Neo-colonialism and Migration. The symposium was planned in collaboration with Peter Spillmann. Information about the speakers will be provided.

Chapter 2: for example TEU: 8 feet x 20 feet
Exhibition: February 25 - May 7, 2006
Neo-colonial economic relationships

This exhibition is concerned with neocolonial economic structures and continuities of colonial relationships.

ISO-Containers have a width of eight feet (2.44 meters) and a length of 20 feet (6.06 meters). From that the abbreviation TEU (Twenty-feet Equivalent Unit) is derived. This standardization has been chosen so that containers can be transported by trucks, railroad or ship. The trade in raw materials played an eminently important role in colonial politics and economics. The present post-colonial and neo-colonial society is based on a balance of power and knowledge and requires a number of colonial practices. Hence today it is no longer just raw materials that continue to influence political and economic decisions but also the unequal conditions of mobility and communication that support neo-colonial dependencies.

Current neo-colonial situations are characterized by a gradient of power in which direct political dependency is replaced by a perpetuation of economic dependency. Multinational corporations and the governments of countries that support them strive to control markets in resources, finances, and goods in poorer countries. In a continuation of colonialism, these countries are used as a reservoir of cheap labor and raw materials, often without making any contribution to a diversified economic and social structure. Countries like Switzerland, which never had colonies, are still tied into these (neo)colonial relationships of power and exchange. Currently they take form in the worldwide privatization of drinking water or the role of the Swiss chemical industry in the trade of pharmaceutical and agrochemical products. Even projects for developmental aid turn out to be conflict-ridden and paradoxical ventures that produce relationships of economic dependence in a globalized world economy although they seek to decolonize.

The project is structured in three modules: research and projects by contemporary artists; the second part of From/To Europe, showing the rediscovered photographs Pierre Bourdieu: In Algeria. Testimonies of Uprooting and inviting to discuss them, further audio stations with conversations on Switzerland’s position to its own (neo-)colonial involvements.

Artistic contributions:
[Azzellini/Ressler] [Conlon] [Cuevas] [Keller] [Mayer/Mettler/Ronca]
[Nordahl] [Rekacewicz] [Thorsen]


In dialogue with
[From/To Europe #2]

Pierre Bourdieu. In Algeria. Testimonies of Uprooting. (pdf)
An exhibition by Camera Austria, Graz / Christine Frisinghelli and the Fondation Pierre Bourdieu, Genève / Franz Schultheis.

Symposium: April 22/23, 2006
[Rock el Casbah]
Bourdieu, Algier, Bern, Banlieue

Symposium: 22./23. April 2006

22. April, Saturday:
14.00 – 18.00: lectures and discussions
20.00 – 22.00: Filmprogram with Remember Resistance (Berlin)

23. April, Sunday:
12.00 – 18.00: lectures and discussions

Chapter 3: for example S, F, N, G, L, B, C – A Matter of Demarcation
(4 November 2006 - 28 January 2007)

The assumption of a colonial constant forms the conceptual starting point for the Thematic Project Series Colonialism without Colonies? Relations between Tourism, Neo-Colonialism and Migration. Equally applicable to states with or without a direct colonial past, this colonial constant is reproduced through economic and political power structures, perpetuated through border regimes and based on the construction of a colonial ‘Other’. Hybrid forms of belonging to a national and cultural context lead directly to questions of immigration and migration policy. for example S, F, N, G, L, B, C wishes to observe migration movements and the mechanisms of in- and exclusion in relation to patterns of colonial practice and ask to what extent colonial practices continue to be pursued today.

People from approximatly 170 nations live in Zurich; one-third of the resident population does not possess a Swiss passport. Every person is either assigned a so-called foreigner identity card S, F, N, G, L, B, C or has ‘no documents’ at all. Each of the letters in a foreigner identity card stands for the residency rights granted and as the figure of a borderline situation marks the mechanisms of in- and exclusion. The history of migration in Switzerland, with over 20% home to one of the largest populations with ‘migration background‘ in Europe, has been determined over the last few decades by political debates as to whether Switzerland is a country of immigration or if it must restrictively stabilise its borders within ‘fortress Europe’. The various booms in migrant movements have triggered repeated debates about the need to halt immigration.

The presence of seasonal workers, who worked mainly in the sectors of road construction and tourism, helping steadily to establish it as an important economic factor, and guest workers, who migrated from southern Europe in large numbers in the 1960s, stimulating the Swiss economy, led to debates about ‘Überfremdung’ (‘infiltration of foreigners’) in the 1970s. In the 1980s, in addition to the question of excluding or integrating the ‘secondos’ (second generation), the debate about asylum seekers came to the fore. Once more there was talk of ‘the boat being full’. While in the summer of 2005 the Swiss Aktionskomitee gegen den Schengen/EU-Beitritt (Action Committee against Schengen/EU Accession) was still campaigning for a general sealing off of Switzerland from EU states as well (around 60% of persons living in Switzerland without a Swiss passport come from the EU) – exploiting a grotesque, scaremongering visual language in slogans such as “Lose security? Lose your job?” – efforts to implement stricter border controls had in the meantime shifted to the external EU borders and beyond.

The process of European integration accentuates bipolar mechanisms of in- and exclusion which are formatively influenced by colonial practice and are evident in the current tightening of the so-called asylum and foreigner laws. The ‘two-sphere model’ underlying these provisions enables immigration from EU states, but renders it practically impossible for third-country nationals to move to Switzerland – with exceptions being made for the highly qualified and prominent achievers for whom labour markets are selectively open. Parallel to joining the Schengen Information System (SIS) in 2008, Switzerland has thus adopted legislation that due to its repressive and deterrence measures should rather be called the ‘asylum prevention law’: certain sections are difficult to reconcile with applicable international law and Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition, turning the country into a fortress within the ‘fortress Europe’, the borders of which however do not primarily and exclusively mark the territory of the state, but rather lie within the country itself or along/outside of the EU borders. Whereas extending the border regimes to neighbouring EU states attempts to prevent ‘illegal’ emigration (hence before immigration can even come about), for those who have already managed to ‘enter’ Switzerland, further restrictions have been introduced limiting personal rights and freedom of movement. Bureaucratic and judicial categorisations such as the so-called foreigner identity card S, F, N, G, L, B, C in Switzerland (besides the unofficial status ‘sans papiers’) represent a form of residency right and hence a figure of demarcation and borderline experience which indicates specific mechanisms of in- and exclusion and thus enables classifications.

The third part of the Thematic Project Series Colonialism without Colonies? will investigate migration movements in relation to patterns of colonial practices. The project scope allows for only a brief and selective tracing of dependency structures, racist traits in sealing off borders and in drawing distinctions, and (post-)colonial phenomena in everyday life in Switzerland and Europe. Who is permitted entry and where to and for what purpose? How is the everyday life of migrants shaping and transforming European metropoles? Which assimilation processes, identity-forging phenomena or interventionist practices are being formulated and established? The project’s participants examine the dynamics and phenomena of migrant movements in a field of tension marked out by a European transnational society which is currently being infiltrated once again by resurgent racist and neo-patriotic tendencies.

This project conception enters into dialogue with From /To Europe #3, which examines the social, economic, technological and geographical divide in access to data traffic and addresses the issues of access facilities in the global South for media networks and communication structures and the rights of intellectual property in relation to the global copyright regime.

[Candrian] [Egli] [forschungsgruppe_f] [Kanak TV] [Kuster/Mabouna]
[Lanzinger] [Lorenz/Reich] [Mayer/Mettler] [Mona] [Nordahl]
[Orthwein-Erhard/Usbeck] [Rekacewicz] [Ressler] [Salzer/Hofmänner]
[] [Thorsen] [Vogel] [Wyder]