Jakob Wirth

Wir heissen Sie willkommen

Wir heissen Sie willkommen

“We welcome you”. Public Performance. WIK Kollektiv. Friedrichshafen. 2015.

#migration #politics #center_periphery #human_as_goods #willkommenskultur (culture of welcoming) #refugees_welcome

CONTEXT: The Performance took place at an invented and official public opening of a new refugee accommodation in the urban periphery of Friedrichshafen. This housing was agreed upon by the city municipality after rejecting several proposals for integrative and alternative housing concepts.

Description of the performance: Moving boxes with a surface of 4 m² when unfolded, a planned size available for every refugee in the new accommodation, were placed in front of the new accommodation. Each box is just big enough for a person to sit in.

Guards with orange vests ensured that the boxes were in place within the orange marks on the street. People arrived and stood in line to be packed into the boxes by the guards. They were not asked to step into the boxes because the laws speak for them. Therefore, they could be loaded and treated like a commodity. The performance reflected the numbers, quotas and distributions of a warehouse. A logistical challenge, no doubt.

At an administrative level and in the German media, this treatment is known as “Willkommenskultur (welcome culture)”. Each box had this word written on its side, clearly limited by a frame of  orange tape. “Willkommenskultur” ended when it became too unpleasant for the individual to cope with.

After the people were packed into the boxes and loaded onto a truck, they were transported to the city center. Here they were unloaded into different places throughout the city. The work brings about the question of treating people as once they realise that there were people inside.

Press:

Südkurier: Flüchtlinge als Gegenstand: Aktion in Friedrichshafen erregt viel Aufsehen.

Schwäbische Zeitung: Wir heißen Sie Willkommen.

Photos: © Gianni Seufert