SWITZERLAND IS NOT AN ISLAND #4
On the borders and beyond
November 29, 2013 – January 26, 2014
Opening: November 28, 2013, 7 p.m.
The fourth and final part of the exhibition series SWITZERLAND IS NOT AN ISLAND focuses on the role of Switzerland within European border and migration policies.
Swiss immigration policy was racially shaped and restrictive even before the first “foreigners’ law” in 1931—a policy that continued in the turning back of thousands of Jews at the Swiss border during the Holocaust. Switzerland’s colonial connections are effective until today and the recruitment agreement with Italy was not succeeded by steps for legal protection of migrant laborers. The “Schwarzenbach-Initiative” in 1970 perpetuated racist logics that remain at the center of society until today. For Switzerland, too, global migration is a reality from which it continues to reap economic profits, and which it wants to regulate in line with its national interests. It thus participates in the work of the European border protection agency Frontex, which is meant to safeguard this profit from the rest of the world at the EU’s visible and invisible external borders. Switzerland’s participation in “fortress Europe” is twofold. It integrates into the structures but does so while maintaining an appearance of humanity through neutrality and direct democracy. In harmony with a push for innovation à la “Swissness,” Switzerland is, at the same time, a pioneer in terms of development and implementation of measures against undesirable migrants. For example, the “migration partnerships” with five countries, which according to Federal council Simonetta Sommaruga are a “future-oriented model” to establish “common goals on a level playing field,” serve to prevent and regulate waves of migration at the place where they arise. A further example is the so-called “special flights”: deportees are removed from the country in separate charter flights, with no public presence and therefore without any witnesses to acts of violence, which means a multifaceted deporting, or “getting rid of.´”
The exhibition “Beyond the Border” works out the different dimensions of Swiss participation in today’s migration and border regimes based on a sound archive. Interviews with key actors and experts offer a complex image of the borders that the Swiss has had a part in creating—and beyond them. For the duration of the exhibition, the archive will be available at the Shedhalle, and will be available afterward online. It forms the base for the Shedhalle’s comprehensive confrontation with the theme in 2014.
“Beyond the Border” is the fourth and final chapter in the exhibition series SWITZERLAND IS NOT AN ISLAND, which has been shown in four parts at the Shedhalle over the course of 2013. The research exhibition gathers artistic works on key themes as well as publications and other material. The research library for the exhibition will be supplemented on a steady basis, and is the base for further events, such as workshops, discussions, and other activities and is available for visitors for reading and research.