October 2016 – Every day, thousands of people are trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, escaping hunger, war and death and carried by the hope for safety, asylum and humane living conditions.

For most of them, the journey ends on an European coastguard vessel in the Libyan waters. For the even less lucky, the journey ends with what they were trying to escape: death.

The Mediterranean Sea becomes the graveyard of their hopes and dreams. For the few lucky ones who make it through to Europe, the Mediterranean marks the borderline between their hope for a better life and the reality of yet another situation with uncertain outcome – waiting in a refugee camp for their destiny being decided by asylum authorities while not receiving very much of a warm welcome in public.

The Mediterranean not only marks Europe's southern border and the border between two continents, it also marks the borderline between rich and poor, saturated and hungry, exploiters and exploited.

The current situation in the Mediterranean Sea shows us Europeans the borderline between our dream of eternal growth and the reality of us living on the costs of others.

With such and similar thoughts I travelled to Sicily to where I was invited for an artist residency by FARM Cultural Park Favara. I developed the idea of creating a work that would be a requiem for all the dreams that drown in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. A requiem, not only for the dreams of the people who are trying to reach Europe, but also for the dream of eternal growth and of Europe being a safe island of wealth and prosperity.

I started to think about working with the border itself – the Mediterranean Sea – and I decided to create its portrait. The most prominent aspect in any image of any sea is the horizon – a motive with a rich history. The horizon – being the border between the known and the unknown – symbolizes hope and fear, life and death. Two reference points from art history were particularly important for me: Casper David Friedrich's “the monk by the sea” and Hiroshi Sugimoto's “seascapes”.

I chose the technique of composite-video to create a portrait that also includes a temporal aspect. I spent an entire day at the coast having my camera facing south south east – in direction of the Libyan coast – with a focal length that exactly covered the range of the Libyan Coast. I recorded 10 minutes of video-footage every half hour, starting my recordings before sunrise and finishing after sunset. In the post-production I combined the 30 individual films to one composite-video by putting them together in transparent layers. The result is an almost static endless video loop that represents an average day on the mediterranean sea between Europe and North Africa.

What I couldn't know while filming, and what I learned the next day, is that during the day of my filming, 4.655 people had been stopped by the Italian coastguard in the Libyan waters, while 28 people lost their lives in the attempt to reach Europe. It is unknown how many people made it trough to Europe on that day. (source: france24)

For exhibition purpose, the video-loop is accompanied by a 2-liters plastic bottle filled with Mediterranean Sea water. The bottle itself is from the water brand “Vera” by Nestlé. Nestlé is actively pushing the privatization of water, which not only undermines the UN Resolution 64/292 (on the 28. July 2010 the UN declares access to water as a human right), but also feeds the devastating situations that makes so many people in Africa leave their homes and risking death in the hope for a better life.

Of course Nestlé isn't the only company contributing to this development. The other big players in the soft-drink market like CocaCola and Pepsi are pushing in the same direction. Yet, the irony in the brand name “Vera” (deriving from latin verus = truth) and in the design of the lable made it the perfect container for my thoughts.

SSO  (Süd Süd Ost  //  South South East)    2016


video still

supported by

bottle with water from the mediterranean sea

teaser / making-of

installation view, KREIS Gallery Nürnberg in the exhibition „LIMIT“  2017