CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
Life Philosophies and Tools for Thought
All over Europe, the transit and arrival of refugees has become a central political topic. Our workshop CAPITAL OF THE WORLD is closely connected to the current turn of events, while attempting to see things from a wider perspective. Christoph Wachter and Mathias Jud work with asylum seekers imprisoned in Australia as well as asylum seekers in Switzerland, Greece and Turkey. Today in all of Europe, we see campaigns started to hunt down boats used to smuggle refugees and to prepare for a general “war against human trafficking”. A large part of the procedures and arguments of such military actions are inspired by the Australian model and can be better understood and criticized when comparing the different practices between states. Starting from today’s socio-political debate, we will also make very practical attempts to come up with some new ideas. For decades now, the digital media have been celebrated as a relief from hegemonic dependences and power politics, even as a tool for growing democratization. Yet increasingly communication networks prove themselves to be entanglements that shape our personal ways of perception and expression.
Our workshop will develop out of an artistic practice exploring these general questions of perception and expression. We will foreground practical tasks that can be carried out with no prior knowledge, and we will find ways of reconsidering themes and finding new angles for discussion. The workshop is open for everyone: people involved in politics, theory or art as well as anybody interested in the topic.
The Australian politics of deterrence regarding boat people shows how easily persecutees can be assigned the roles of perpetrators. Children can be imprisoned for a limitless number of years without due process or a judicial sentence. We will examine the effects of a policy that finds its European echo in arguments for military action. Specific methods of observation and archiving will gain us new insights into a system of propaganda and secret military operations.
Excluded, locked out, left alone – detained in the middle of nowhere, lost in the border regions. Asylum seekers are held in place by travel bans, forbidden zones and food stamps, their quarters located at the periphery. Asylum seekers are accommodated e.g. in isolated Swiss valleys or army bunkers. By interconnecting and linking them in certain ways, these non-places can become starting points for a socio-political upheaval.
Patterns of identification and recognition have become more and more specific and determine the form of language tests and detailed rules of conduct. They make even our opinions feel increasingly inhibited. A central role here is played by acts of communication and the communication media, a reflection on which may help us to gain insights into our own views.
The history of the recent more informal and cultural colonization tactics reaches back to the age of colonialism. Subjugating foreign countries always depended on networks of global communication. Early spark-gap radio transmitters and the first submarine telegraph cables formed the backbone of colonization, where colonies and the new technologies developed hand in hand.
The sinking of the Titanic was, among other things, a catastrophe for privatized communication channels. Comparing proprietary systems and standards of open communication, different forms of inclusion and exclusion can be diagnosed.
In the European Union’s strategy for a “war against human trafficking”, monitoring the social media platforms and observation through drones have become central strategies. Likewise, links of communication have strategical importance for appearing and disappearing humans. Some of the networks used offer a first step toward critical reflection.
The title CAPITAL OF THE WORLD was coined by an asylum seeker from Senegal in Switzerland, who dreams of a common capital for the whole world. This would be a place where people from all cultures and speaking all languages met and found a shared homeland. The word CAPITAL should also be read to stand for the world’s resources, its potential and richness that might grow from such a communality.