HD-Video, 13min 47sec, 2011 - ongoing
»(…) The contributions of the participating artists to «A Sense of Place» generate in the exhibition a convergence of artistic arguments on the cited problems of the local associations and «transportability» of certain methods. Johanna Tinzl and Stefan Flunger (A) add to their video «The Fence is European,» which they shot on the Moroccan-Spanish border with commentary by a Spanish taxi driver, a voice-over spoken by a taxi driver from Carinthia, thus creating a link to border and immigration policies on the frontiers of, and within, Europe. (…)«
excerpt: Christian Kravagna, Kunstraum Lakeside Klagenfurt
Johanna Tinzl and Stefan Flunger employ their recently created series of works to move literally and metaphorically along the European Union's external borders. In places where the purpose of high fences, barricades and military patrols is to prevent immigrants from non-European states from crossing Europe's topographical and/or political borders and fleeing from here to there, the artists educe structural similarities between the places they have visited and present them as the visual essence of their journeys in the exhibition space.
In this context, they see the theme of »translation« not only in the linguistic sense but above all as a spatial and formal-aesthetic principle by which to create multilayered situational transfers. The aspect of transposition and interpretation that is decisive in any translation process, becomes evident in the video »La valla es europeo. The Fence is European.«. During a taxi drive along the fence between Morocco and Melilla, the complexity and explosiveness of the political situation in North Africa is explained in simple words by the taxi driver engaged by Tinzl and Flunger. So that the non-Spanish-speaking passengers can also understand what he has to say, the chauffeur comments on the high barrier – which is erected in three rows and topped with NATO-wire – in an insistent manner throughout the entire trip.
However, the viewers of the video do not hear the language of the man from Melilla but a German transcription, which is spoken onto the soundtrack by a local taxi driver. In »La valla es europeo. The Fence is European.« Johanna Tinzl and Stefan Flunger break away from the use of purely documentary strategies in the sphere of art by consciously avoiding documenting up-to-date stories of individual immigrants and so reifying them for the purposes of their art. The language of the taxi driver from the Spanish exclave is used in order to create a connection between the realities of life on the external borders of Europe and those in Central Europe. When the artists show this video in different places, the text from the man from Melilla is translated into the language of the relevant country and repeated by a local taxi driver.
Text: Franz Thalmair