The Kunsthalle Wil has taken on the topic of refugees and migration and invited the Basel artist Eva Borner to show her work. The four pieces in the exhibition «Realities» are convincing in their subtle, poetic appeal: Do not look away!
«Realities» is what Eva Borner calls her multi-piece productions developed for the Kunsthalle and interprets the theoretical term, so often discussed and questioned in philosophy, in very concrete ways: as a current reality, a given condition, an inevitable fact, an unembellished truth both for the individual as well as, on a larger scale, for an alarming number of people today: worldwide, there are 70 million people on the run, more than the population of France. The UN High Commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, makes the following appeal: «No matter which measure is applied, this number is unacceptable. Louder than ever before it speaks of the need for solidarity and for common goals in the prevention and resolution of crises. Together we have to guarantee adequate protection and care for refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers worldwide, while at the same time striving for solutions.»
Eva Borner does not want to ignore the brutalization of the world or human distress and has made it a matter of course to pay attention to existentially vulnerable persons as well as to those who have been displaced to the fringes of existence. For her, ‹willingness to listen› and ‹taking time› are the impulse and condition for interpersonal relationships. As a volunteer in a refugee camp in the Athens harbor, she gained insight into the difficult situation of the people there. At the same time, she observed the ever-increasing number of the homeless in Athens due to the economic crisis. Sensitized by this homelessness, she did extensive research on the topic and thereby recognized how little it takes for a human being to become homeless and to slip through the social net. She asked refugees in Greece about their ‹deepest wishes›. The artist collected their personal, touching and shocking answers – not only at the shore of Europe. She later also spoke to the homeless, those without a house or a homeland, migrants and those in exile in the streets of Paris, in accommodations in Leipzig and in various Swiss cities.
These lengthy and intensive inquiries and conversations form the basis for the installation «Realities», shown for the first time in the Kunsthalle: with her production, the artist gives otherwise unheard people a voice.
In collaboration with the sound designer Hans Peter Gutjahr, Eva Borner presents a walk-in ‹sound sculpture› in a ‹black box›. The longings and wishes of the interviewees are presented to visitors of the installation via many small speakers hidden in calyx-like funnels composed of handmade cardboard. In the mind’s eye, each voice modulates into an individual with wishes; due to the immediacy of the auditory experience, personal thoughts on the current unstable political situation in and outside of Europe are set free and empathy for the individual fates is evoked. In her creative process – the weaving together of various voices and sounds – the artist falls back on a historical and long-standing tradition and craft as well as on the weaving of a political metaphor. The method of weaving and connecting into a soundscape creates a polyphonic symbol for global societal questions around the construction of citizenship, cultural identity and belonging. A communal, cosmopolitan and prospering Europe for people from various backgrounds proves to be a work in progress – an ever-changing entity, constantly redefined and continually shaped according to the current historical reality and carried by the visions and convictions of each individual.