Forschungsprojekt KUNST ÖFFENTLICHKEIT ZÜRICH | Projekte

Institut für Gegenwartskünste, Zürcher Hochschule der Künste ZHdK
Hafnerstrasse 39, Postfach, CH-8031 Zürich, Tel +41 (0)43 446 61 01

Meschac Gaba, Projektentwurf Hardau

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Bilder: Keine

Embassy

(Wettbewerbseingabe von Meschac Gaba)

Concept
The concept for this project was born because of the linguistic problems caused by immigration of which I have been a part of myself, living amongst other people. It is very important to speak the national language of the country you live in, it is good for yourself, and for everyone else. This allows people to integrate in the culture of the society. This project is at the same time a form of self-criticism, being an immigrant living in the Netherlands, not able to speak Dutch.
I think that foreigners are the ones that mostly visit an embassy or a consulate, to be able to travel to another country, for obtaining a visa, or to collect information about other countries.
In African countries, such as Benin (where I come from), some embassies are giving language courses, for example the German Embassy and the American Embassy in Cotonou, Benin. I remember that I studied myself at the American Embassy, learning the English language, when I had the intention to study art in the Netherlands. At that time there was no Dutch Embassy in Benin. This language course helped me a very much during my studies in Amsterdam, and I had this chance as the art school was international and everyone needed to speak English.
This project has the intention to encourage all embassies to develop this language section, as we are all travelers.

Description of the project
Embassy consist of a series of painted tables, as a form of painting, with the emblems of the specific embassy and the emblem of the hosting country, which is Switzerland. It will be the Department of Language.
One finds on the table the alphabet in the language of the country (for example Turkey, China, India) and also the alphabet of Switserland, which is practically international. Also one finds drawings of objects accompanied by their names, as spoken in the language of the country.
Finally one also finds funny short stories that come from my collection, that I have built up together with some of my artist friends, as well as some stories based on reality.
For this proposal, I have chosen the Dutch language as an example for presenting one of the tables. This is easy for me as I live in the Netherlands. Therefore the embassy represented here will be the Dutch Embassy.
There will be audio cassettes accompanying every embassy table, as one needs to have sound to learn a language. My own voice will be on the tape, as it will be me learning each time, as this connects also with my life as a traveler.
There will be a workshop connected with the project at the end of July, in case the project is accepted, based on the idea to learn the Swiss language, as one cannot talk about the embassy and forget the hosting country, as there would not be a Swiss embassy in Switzerland of course. The workshop will be called  The Swiss Language in Seven Days. My proposal is to invite three other artists to participate in developing this workshop. They need to find visual and audio solutions to show and facilitate learning the language. This workshop needs to be coordinated by a language professor. The artists are invited to make visual proposals by form of painting, graffiti, drawings, or sound, to make the learning of the language more easy. I take this workshop also as an opportunity to research the languages that can be found in the Hardau area, where the project will take place.
The Embassy project will also be presented via an internet website, which will include the research. My intention is to continue developing this project afterwards. It will become a website where people can learn different languages, and will include the visual proposals of the invited artists as well.
There might be possibilities eventually for the city of Zurich to find interested sponsors to support traveling, accommodation, the transport of the works and the accommodation of the three invited artists for the workshop, for example a Zurich hotel that might accommodate the participants, a Swiss airline company that might sponsor the necessary tickets, and possibly some of the embassies in Switzerland who might support the project in various ways.

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(c) Jules Spinatsch, Collection Nr. 118, CH 1999
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