Frank Westermeyer

Producing landscape – producing identity

Producing landscape - producing identity is an artist driven research project at the Geneva University of art and design, Switzerland (HEAD - Genève) It brings together artists, anthropologist and a curator and art critique from Europe, Switzerland and Chile. 
The project asks about the role that landscape and landscape representation play within the colonial process in Chile during the 19th century and within the actual conflict of land restitution between the Mapuche first people on the one side and the Chilean government and the descendants of European settlers on the other side. 
A conflict of images?
The painter and idealist Carl Alexander Simon writes in the year of the German revolution 1848/49 a book with the title: The Emigration of Democrats and Proletarians, and the National German Colonization of the Free South American State of Chile. In this book Simon gives a description of his utopia of a democratic German colony on Chilean ground. Without having ever been to Chile nor to South America, Simon delivers in his descriptions the very scenic picture of a paradisic place. Though considering all the different parameters like botanic, geology, climate, natural resources of this country, the book is not a boring enumeration but a very visual description of an ideal landscape. Once himself in Chile, Simon became the first to depict the 
southern landscapes in oil sketches.
The Germans and other Europeans settled in Chiles "little south" - the Auracania region, which has been an independent state of the Mapuche first people during long time of the Spanish colonization and until the mid 19 century. The actual struggle of the Mapuche for reconstitution of their land is very politicized and even violent. Over the decades, not only their territories have been taken, but also their cultural and spiritual ties to the territory have been erased. 
Why landscape ?
Our interest in landscape is founded in it's political connotation: Landscape unfolds between practiced space and symbolic space. Landscape is the very place where an appropriation is going to happen. This appropriation occurs especially in a (post-) colonial context like Chile in two dimensions: As an appropriation of territory and as an appropriation in relation to the construction of identity. 
Main artistic results of the project are several video works: The 130 minutes "New Brothers" traces  the complex interrelations of landscape, painting, colonization and cultural identity in this region. "The Future Genus" once again infuses the original text by Simon, which has been slumbering in the archives since the mid 19th century, a performative dimension. Bernardo Oyarzûn's video works focus on personal myths from the south. 
The presentation at sensuous knowledge will be in form of a paper with short excerpts of the video art works. For "Ta(l)king Place" we would like to address especially the issue of how to talk about postcolonial places from the outside? What does working within in a postcolonial context mean for art research? 
On the project: Period: 01.11. 2010 - 30.10. 2012
Team: Sylvie Boisseau, Katrin Mundt, Fabien Le Bonniec, Bernardo Oyarzûn, Sabine Kradolfer and
Frank Westermeyer (head of the project).
Contact: Frank Westermeyer
Geneva University of art and design,

Publisert: 21.06.2013 av Johan Sandborg Oppdatert: 19.03.2015 av admin