Apart from Us
A project by Seline Baumgartner with Gabriela Pereira and Reut Nahum
Opening March 10th, 2022, 6pm.
March 26th, Dance Performance by Reut Nahum, 6pm
March 30th, Finissage 4-8pm
Saturday 12.03. and 19.03. 2-5pm
Wednesday 16.03. and 23.03. 4-7pm
Friday 18.03 and 25.03. 4-7pm
In her latest project Apart from Us, artist Seline Baumgartner focuses on a dark chapter of Swiss History: Administrative Detention (Administrative Versorgung), a law that was enacted in Switzerland in 1930, enforced until 1981, and which resulted in tens of thousands of innocent people forcibly confined against their will.
Calculatingly broad terminology such as “lazy”, “dissolute”, and “indolent” was employed as justification to label people as a “threat to the public order”, and to be locked away for years in institutions without any court decision or semblance of due process. Administrative Detention allowed “authorities” to arbitrarily detain people who were stigmatized by “society” in a strategic attempt to protect the prevailing moral order. The Swiss government condoned the self-righteous exclusion of all those deemed “other”.
Those affected, including children, were incarcerated in general prison populations, correctional labour camps, juvenile reform facilities for "re-education", and forced to labor for farmers. They were sterilized. They were beaten. They were raped. They were subjected to torturous conditions. Their futures were irreparably and negatively altered. They lost their lives.
In developing Apart from Us, Baumgartner researched the topic extensively and collaborated with women, who as children, were directly affected by these coercive and heinous measures. While making this shameful chapter of Swiss history more visible, Baumgartner explores the subject through movement and dance. She questions the remaining influences of this praxis in our current swiss society, as well as the influence it had on the late feminist emancipation in Switzerland.
In recent years, Baumgartner has developed a working method in her videos through which social issues are addressed via the body and movement. During her research for Apart from Us, the artist was struck by the physical damage of the women, which prompted questions: How, physically and emotionally, can someone live with such an injured body? Which were the movements that caused the physical pain? How can the survivors’ memories be translated from verbal language into movement in such a way that they retain authority over their past? And ultimately, how can the focus on the body be a way to understand the history of social violence?
Seeking an answer to these questions, a choreography was developed by Baumgartner together with the survivor Gabriela Pereira and dancer Reut Nahum, based on the survivors’ experiences and through the notion of “response-ability” by Donna Haraway: “the ‘capacity to respond’ is an intensified and diversified ability to listen/notice and do respond in non-defensive ways to others in a way that enables further responsiveness. It is based on active caring”.
How can we react to such crimes of the past and the consequences they had on these women’s lives, many of whom are still a part of us?
The exhibition at la_cápsula consists of a video installation, sculptures, a dance performance, and documentation about the Administrative Detention.