The Resto Diaspo
The Resto Diaspo was a restaurant located in Zurich’s industrial district. It was opened in 1963 by community activists of the global majority and served as a meeting place for the diaspora community of the area, as well as for radicals, filmmakers, poets and musicians. In the beginning of the Protozone4, the installation took up the ritualized sociality of the restaurant and was supposed to serve as a setting in which the spirit of Resto Diaspo should have come to life. But the Resto closed unexpectedly and is still facing the circumstances that led to this step.
The original idea was to redistribute power and the attention given to an exhibition, but we are now working on the question of why has redistributing failed in our case? How are we reproducing what we experience systemically as BIPoC towards other BIPoC? How can we support making the urgency of the statements and the importance of the voices of those who are systematically invisibilized visible?
In this exhibition within the exhibition, the Resto Diaspo installation displays the works of the collaborating artists Rosida Koyuncu, Meloe Gennai and Roble / RO X.
Rosida Koyuncu, Cabin19Bis – Sans Frontières (2019), Video (11:17 min)
(Translated from Turkish) Every year in Geneva changing rooms at the lake in the Bains des Pâquis are decorated by artists. The project starts on the 1st of December and one cabin is opened every day. This year there are 24 cabins in total and I designed the 19th one around the theme “Sans Frontières”. On display are photos and stories of people whose bodies have been found or not, and the objects that remember those who wanted to go to Europe and lost their lives in the waters of the Aegean.
They say that there is no place for refugees in Switzerland and send them to underground camps. I put up a photo showing the name of a big shopping center in Geneva (Balexert). Everyone knows this place, but no one knows that there is an underground camp underneath. After reading the description under the photo, the visitors watch the video showing the underground camps. The video is called “Underground”. When asked what was underground, everyone answers “A parking garage” and once it becomes clear what is really underneath the shopping center, they are surprised.
The day my cabin was opened, I wrapped my body in pantyhose and rubbed it with clay. Afterwards, I walked through the people to the cabin and held a ceremony. The tights and clay on my body symbolized my boundaries and I blew them open. During the perfomance I was accompanied by a frame drum and loud shouts and so I walked to the water.
Rosida Koyuncu, Life isn’t a quiet river | Zehra Doğan, Video (13:12 min)
“Life isn’t a quiet river” is a video art piece by Kurdish exiled artist and journalist Zehra Doğan, exploring the kindness of solidarity in times of political uncertainty.
In 2016 Doğan became a political prisoner who was detained for a drawing. Her artwork depicting the destruction of the majority-Kurdish town of Nusaybin and her subsequent arrest went on to spark a world wide discussion on the importance of freedom of expression. The short film draws upon the power of writing and sees Doğan reflect on the compassion shown by supporters around the world who wrote letters to her during her 600 day imprisonment. It was filmed in the summer of 2020 in collaboration with many of Doğan’s exiled artist friends as they travelled across Europe.
Meloe Gennai, Emmanuel Yoro – queer colonialism (2021), 6 graphic poetry posters
Conceived during a period of self-realization and identity building around Afro-descendant trans-identity and autistic cultures, “queer colonialism”, a text conceived and created by Meloe, allows the author to name current masquaradas: the appropriation of trans cultures by (queer) cisgender people; and the manifestations of denial of their whiteness by white queer and trans people through the emphasis of their “minority” identities; and the consequent exploitation and endangerment of racialized trans bodies. A pamphlet, a manifestation of self-determined existence, this text is reinforced by the collaboration with Emmanuel Yoro. Indeed, the latter is a manifestation of a logic of reflection on the individual intersections and community bonds that are created despite the perpetuation of oppressive and exploitative white and/or cisgender supremacist logics. Emmanuel Yoro’s creation is an encounter with the text, in which the artist recognises himself.
Collective X – blackity black black (2020), poetry zine in collaboration with Meloe Gennai, Deborah Macauley, Cassandra Press, Luma Westbau
Blackity Black Black is a fanzine showing the poetry of Kami, Titilayo Adebayo, Jean F., Meloe Gennai and Marilyn Umurungi, Emmanuel Yoro and Yara Dulac Gisler. Responding to the expressed desire of the african-american artist Kandis Williams and Cassandra Press to publish local black poets, Deborah MacCauley and Joëlle Gbeassor commissioned Collective X (IG: _x-collective_x_) and Meloe Gennai to make this possible. The name was chosen from Titilayo’s poem of the same name. The art space Luma Westbau provided support and Emmanuel Yoro contributed his knowledge of design and collage art to create this platform of gifted young black queer poets.
Roble / RO X – NASAB (2021), Video (18:22 min)
We talk about our situation as Illegal Immigrants in the repatriation center every day because it is the life we live, the hardship we endure on a daily basis. Sometimes it makes us laugh, sometimes it makes us sad. Often it depresses us and gives us an impotent feeling of emptiness; a community of common destiny without hope or future, a group of people without any real meaning or purpose in life.