2016 South African Artist in Switzerland

Lavonne2. August 2016, 6am: finally Lavonne Bosman, the artist in Residence for the next three months has arrived. She was chosen from over 80! very valuable applications from South African photographer artist by the jury of the SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Coorporation, the FDDM “Stiftung für nachhaltige Entwicklung in den Bergregionen” and the AIR Villekulla for the SMArt Programm 2016 in the Bündnerland.

After a nice breakfast and lunch we had an interesting discussion about migration in Switzerland in comparison with South Africa:

South Africa has a history with racism, that forced them to deal with the subject. Switzerland is confronted with the “refuge crisis” (it must feel devaluing for a refugee to be defined only as a refugee, not as a human being, besides the fact that the word “crisis” is often connected to “their definition”) only fairly resent. Therefore people in Switzerland are not so much aware where racism starts and what kind of damage it does, in the long run, to the country. Like often, only after 50 years, we look back and realize what kind of polarizing propaganda has made such a development possible.

Later we did the planing for the next few days, we organized today a cell phone and a half price ticket for the public transport.

3.August 2016: Lavonne does her first trip on her own and keeps an eye open to what she is observing on the them of “Migration”. We did research about Migration in the Schanfigg Tal where the artist in residence has a Maiensäss in Medergen: In Litzirüthi is a new Asylam seeker home which had a lot of protest before it opened it’s doors in autumn 2015.

Later today we will go to the Fotomuseum Winterthur to see an exhibition about Roberto Donetta from the Bleniotal in the Swiss Mountains. It was very impressive for Lavonne to see how people were living only a hundert years ago in a valley of the Swiss mountains and how the photographer Roberto Donella was working. His installations and how he arranged people on the photos, as well as the artist biography were touching the South African artist.

4. August 2016: Today we are moving to the mountains. We are busy packing what we need there to work, taking into consideration that the village has no electricity, only solar power, and the water has to be carried in buckets from the well in front of the house. On the way to the mountains Lavonne was taking photos from for us unusual things. As closer we came to the mountains she was amazed about the beauty of nature.

As we arrived, she was immediately going for a walk and came back with photos from the sheep farm which is close the Medergen. She chose very unusual compositions, as she almost arranged the sheep for the photos. After dinner, we discussed again the controvers collection from the asylum seeker home, the tourism industry and the remaining citizen in Litzirüti.

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5. August 2016: Sarah Huber, her husband and friends arrived at lunch time. We enjoyed a marvelous lunch at the restaurant alpenrose and exchanged what the main interest of Lavonne is for her research about “Migration in the Bündner Mountains”.

6. August 2016: Today is Lavonne’s first day on her own on the alp Medergen. She sent us some photos.

7.-10. August 2016: Lavonne went to the valley to visit the asylum seeker camp in Litzirüti, made her first contacts there and does research about migration in the Bündnerland.

11.-12. August 2016: The city of Chur wants to have an article about Lavonne’s SMArt researches in the news paper. Lavonne is still busy to make contacts at the asylum seeker centre in Litzirüti – she calls the centre charmingly “hotel”. Besides Eritreans, there are Syriens, Afghanis and Somalian people. She is also interested in the people from Medergen village and the farmers in the valley.

13.-15. August 2016: We visited Lavonne Bosman in Medergen and discussed her experience so far, exchanged some links about the history in the Bündnerland. Lavonne summarized:

Migration:  A Global challenge facing the mountain regions of Switzerland

Migration is no new theme to Switzerland, if you think of centuries of
people, such as the Walsers of Kleinwalsertal migrating around the
Swiss canton of Valais since 1300 AD, driven perhaps by weather
conditions or poverty and the search of new opportunities.

It can be said that at this current moment in time a new historical
phenomenon is taking place, some events more drastic than others, from
farmers gradually abandoning their farms that have been in families
for years because of  too many challenges or simply moving up and down
the mountains according to the seasons (trans-humance), to the
migration of refugees from further off war-torn African countries.”

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I’ll continue until September to do research and take photographs
concerning this theme of migration for the Sustainable Mountain Art
programme.  At this stage I find that  I am only starting to see a
glimpse of the depth of this global challenge facing the mountain
regions of Switzerland and will continue to try and give an accurate
reflection from my perspective, being a photographic artist and a
South African (who arrived only on the second of August in
Switzerland)”. 

Lavonne Bosman, 16.08.2016

17.-18. August 2016, Lavonne: “Other questions I have are really only about the history of Medergen,
how it came to be mostly a village for holiday makers (who lived here
before and why did those people leave?)

I know that the Walsers have settled here in about 1300 and that the
oldest existing houses were built in about 1720, some of them used as
stables.”

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16-20. August 2016: Lavonne went for a walk with some refugees from Litzirüti and gains more relationships to the camp.

21-23. August 2016: Lavonne traveled to Zürich in order to prepare the meeting with the SDC in Bern at the 24. August and her visit to the Wallis residency. She also did research about Migration in the Bündnerland and wrote a text with photos.

24. August 2016: Lavonne met up with the SDC and had lunch in Bern. The meeting was very beneficial for Lavonne and the other artist in residence from the Wallis. They are inspired for their projects with SMArt. Afterwards seh traveled to the Wallis, where she met up with on of the other artist of the SMArt program to exchange ideas.

25. August 2016: Lavonne travels back to Bern to visit the South African embassy, together with the FDDM responsible person for the SMArt Project in the Wallis and two responsible persons for the SMArt project in Graubünden and Cape Town. We were all very welcomed and had a very interesting conversation with three deputies of the cultural department of the embassy including the consul.

26. August 2016 Lavonne was doing research for the final printing.

27. August 2016 Lavonne traveled back to Medergen.

28. August – 6. September: Lavonne takes photos form the village people.