TAGGING 14 KM
The Strait of Gibraltar
14 kilometres that decide between life and death
June 20, 2019 was World Refugee Day.
The WEHR51 took this opportunity to deal with the topic in an installation as part of the WATCH OUT! performance series. This time the Cologne Südbrücke was the venue. It leads up to almost 400m across the Rhine and connects the two sides. If you want to cross the river by swimming - despite the visibility of the other side - you will risk your life.
The strait of Gibraltar is 14km wide or narrow.
Also here you can look from one coast to the other. It is easy to imagine what is going on in a person who has the supposed paradise in sight.
The Strait of Gibraltar is considered one of the most dangerous waterways in the world due to currents and heavy shipping. Nevertheless, every year people who do not have much else to lose - apart from their lives - try their luck in the crossing.
By 30 July 2018, 22,091 people had reached the coast of southern Spain on this route.
More and more migrants are choosing the way via Morocco to Spain in search of a route from Africa to Europe.
There are about 400 of them at present - every day. By mid-June, the sea rescuers had already taken more people out of the water than in the entire previous year. There are different statistics on the number of missing persons. According to Spanish sea rescuers, 132 people have died or are missing during the crossing in 2019. There were 811 people in 2018. Estimates assume that the number is about three times higher than that of those washed up on the beaches - almost 2000 more deaths per year.
Symbolically, we have divided the southern bridge into 14 kilometres. We started on the "schäl Sick", the spurned Cologne side, and put the sign "Ceuta Marokko" there. This was our starting point. Kilometer 0. From there one looks at the beautiful southern city of Cologne, the country where milk and honey flow, in our case titled with a sign "Tarifa Spain". We decorated the river bank with golden foil, so that it glittered promisingly from the other side of the Rhine. At the 14 marked kilometres/stations we put up signs with information about the current refugee movements. For example, "68.8 million people are currently fleeing" or "At least 50 percent of all refugees are women and girls who are in constant fear of violence and sexual assault, hunger and disease, the loss of relatives and an uncertain future".
Crossing the Rhine is effortless. Everyone gets there when and where he wants.
For several years, plans have been made to build a bridge to connect Africa and Europe.
A permanent installation at the South Bridge is planned!
We live in a world where the constant distraction by digital media accompanies our entire daily life. Almost everyone has a smartphone in his hand; on the street, in the car, in the train or at the stop. Every live experience is documented and posted on social networks. Without that we are not present, not live! The lowered gaze has become normal, the right thumb in continuous use.
This is where the art project WATCHOUT! with his WHITE CUBE starts: 10 minutes WITHOUT smartphone, how is that supposed to work, who am I without connection? Chance or torture? WHITE CUBE gives people the opportunity to spend 10 minutes sitting on a chair in a large white cube. They deposit their smartphone at the entrance and enter the room without using any technology. Alone, only thrown back on themselves, they have the opportunity to endure themselves for 10 minutes without distraction, to explore, to feel, or even to be bored.
Are we still able to do this? Or will the experiment even release energies? Or is being thrown back on oneself in the digital world senseless, overestimated?
The art project WATCHOUT! is dealing with small artistic interventions in public space since November 2018. The format picks up idioms and behavioural patterns of our time and questions them in a playful manner.
The WHITE CUBE is the continuation of this series of interventions. It is addressed to people on the street who are occupied with their smartphones. They will be invited to enter the WHITE CUBE.