Intermittent geographies / Geografías intermitentes

María Sábato in collaboration with Jimena Pérez Salerno

August 14th – 28th, 2021

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What are borders, if not imaginary lines?

Determined to investigate and to experience first-hand this question and many others regarding borders, limits and geographies, artist María Sábato arrived in Switzerland in May 2021, as a recipient of the Index Freiraum Stipendium. Her objective was to develop a series of works and a performance in collaboration with artist Jimena Pérez Salerno, based on her research of the enclaves in the Swiss territory. Above all, she was interested in conducting field research and immersing herself in the physical space of the German enclave in Switzerland, a small town named Büsingen am Hochrhein.

The artist travelled several times to the enclave and immediately identified the most valued and omnipresent element in the area —and in Switzerland—, the element that most clearly denoted the richness of the country: water.

Water is everywhere in Switzerland. Depending on the time of the year, people dip themselves in lakes, rivers and fountains, or ski, skate and walk on frozen water. And all year long they drink from the more than 1’200 drinking water fountains of the city of Zurich. In the enclave, however, water is also the borderline between the Swiss and the German territories. As water flows, borders are performed.  

With this in mind, the artist set herself on a quest to unite both countries, using the river as the middle ground. In a place full of signs indicating areas as “private property”, the artist wanted to experience with her own body, what it was like to cross and above all, to overwrite the imaginary lines of the border. The task was not an easy feat, it required multiple visits to the enclave, two attempts of the action, a team of accomplices, both local and foreign, and even a crashed drone.

Geografias Intermitentes / Intermittent Geographies displays the result of the artist’s research in the enclave, as well as the preparation and documentation of the action in the river. Furthermore, the works in the exhibition transform the space of la_cápsula into a place where the audience is confronted with the experience of crossing borders, and of being crossed by them. 

During the opening day, Sábato and Pérez Salerno will do an action at la_cápsula, using the same rope they utilised for the action at the river in the enclave. Water as an element will be absent, but the idea of it will be (as it always is in Switzerland) omnipresent. Water as a border, water as a connector, water as the most “urgent, visceral and ethically fraught site of political praxis and theoretical inquiry, (given that) our reshaping of this planet is occurring not least through the re-choreography and re-materialization of its waters" (Astrida Neimanis).

How do we cross borders and how do they cross us?

This show is generously supported by:

Index Freiraum Stipendium

ProHelvetia South America

SüdKulturFonds