744 km - Stories from the Swiss-Alpine frontline 25/11 - 10/12/2022 Istituto Svizzero Milano
744 kilometres, that is the length of the border between Italy and Switzerland, which runs through the Alps but also the lowest point in Switzerland. This physical and mental border metabolises the shared histories and frictions between the two territories. The display showcased at Istituto Svizzero launches a research project that will keep on growing and to which you are welcome to contribute.
Since 2013, VOLUMES has built a collection of art books, zines and magazines, thanks to the many donations received annually for its’ international open call exhibition and publication award. Taking this library as a site of investigation, the collective has been researching new forms of organizing and understanding the archive and the challenge of categories and inventories. To do so, VOLUMES collaborates with external voices to interact with the content present, but also absent, that could be added to the archive following specific curatorial lines. The collection is therefore archived through a range of dynamic sections, which keep growing and get showcased online, through talks and exhibition displays.
Departing from publications already present within the VOLUMES Archive, the new selection 744km attempts to grasp past and present mobilities between Switzerland and Italy through their shared border. In order to address entangled histories shaped by movements and policies, a wide range of published matter taken from different fields has been assembled.
The selected publications, articles and essays from artists, independent, academic and mainstream publishers point to different stories, projections, narratives, that are embedded within the border’s topography.
Holding many paradoxes, borderscapes are indeed challenging to grasp:
«Borders are inherently spaces of contradictions. They are spaces of encounters and divisions that separate and unite. They are visible yet invisible, fixed yet mobile, rigid yet porous, and remote yet so central to politics». Shine Choi
In order to reflect the wide range of disciplines interested in border studies (such as political science, sociology, anthropology, history, international law, art, media studies, philosophy or ethics), the selected publications alternatively look at the immaterial and material manifestations of border policies, itineraries undertaken through time for official and unofficial reasons, the impact of economic and political contexts, storytelling and interventions in the landscape, to the more recent effects of covid and climate change.
This diverse constellation is a way of investigating different types of narratives. Publications here are used as a form of evidence and knowledge that can be assembled and questioned through mediation. By multiplying and juxtaposing storylines, the section aims to create and highlight associations, frictions and gaps, showcasing both mainstream and counter narratives. As the stories we are told evolve, just like the landscapes where they take place, many voices still remain unheard. This is where the work of both academics and artists acts in parallel without necessarily meeting. The lack of porosity between disciplines is another type of border that we attempt to render more porous through our selection.
744km presented at Istituto Svizzero is the beginning of a research and by no means pretends to be exhaustive. We therefore welcome any comments and suggestions regarding published matter that could be added to the selection.
We invite you for an activation of the 744km display on Saturday 3rd of December from 5pm, with
a presentation and discussion with artists Salvatore Vitale, Maria Iorio & Raphaël Cuomo, with SPRINT and VOLUMES.