Becoming a Mime – 2014
Depending on where they work—or, in some cases, where they come from—artists who perform in the street are subject to different laws. One’s ability to work in public space is limited in Geneva, Switzerland, in violation of conventions adopted by the United Nations, which has a headquarters in that very city. My intervention took the form of a solo protest at the Bel-Air bus stop in downtown Geneva on 11 October 2014. The experience was later the subject of an installation at the Fonderie Kügler.
Excerpt from an interview with the authorities in charge of security and public spaces in Geneva:
We return to my case and the proper administrative procedure. She explains that my identification card is not valid. She is more than willing to issue me a permit, but I have to pay a fee of 10 Swiss francs to work in public space. Without prompting, she provides more detail on the conditions for access to public space: Swiss nationals have the right to access every day of the year, or 365 days; Europeans have the right to 90 days per year… For non-Europeans, it is 8 days.
Installation: Audio recording of a text based on my conversation with the authorities, entitled “Call of 1 April.” A sign detailing the number of days of access to public space allowed to street performers in Geneva Canton, depending on their nationalities. A copy of the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which came into force in Switzerland on 16 October 2008; the text was approved by a general assembly of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Geneva.