Life lines

3 Apr 2021 - 27 Jun 2021 | Johann Jacobs Museum

> Life lines at the Online Gallery

“Life lines” is an open-ended research and exhibition project. It explores the biographies of a group of youths who arrived in Switzerland as refugees in recent years and now go to school here. While the exhibition attempts to follow the tangled paths of their journeys, the intention is not to simply reiterate individual fates.

“Life lines” is a cartographic exercise – parallel to the official curriculum. The students map out both the real and imaginary terrains they crossed: theaters of war in the Middle East or Afghanistan, borders (not only physical boundaries, such as walls and fences, but also the limits of imagination). Encounters of all types belong to these journeys: encounters with smugglers and traffickers, humanitarian workers, with people who want nothing to do with all this, and those who do.

”Life lines” is a fruit of the lockdown. When the schools closed in March, the pupils did not want to simply accept the relative isolation. They turned to their teacher, the Swiss artist Walter Riedweg, who teaches the “integration class” in Volketswil. The idea came up to pursue the question “Where do we come from?”. Riedweg, in turn, turned to the Johann Jacobs Museum, to provide a curatorial platform in analogous space for the research and preparation of “Life lines”, which had taken place online and in zoom conferences.

“Life lines” itself consists of images and music, of memories, sounds and smells, of conversations with friends, parents and grandparents – but also fictions, desires and inventions, which will be collected, composed and stitched together over the course of the project (from November to April 2021).

This is all complemented by the works of contemporary artists such as Ai Weiwei, Maja Bajevic, Giulio Bensasson, Ishita Chakraborty, Axel Crettenand, and others who address the encounters between the (mere) individuals and (great) history. The plasticity of the ‘mere’ and the ‘great’ – the relationship between history and the individual – is interwoven into the exhibition through stories of Ibn Battutah, a legendary Arab explorer of the 14th century, who performed the feat of writing history, while “making it” himself.

The student project by Dias & Riedweg is called “weg-zurück-da” is part of the exhibition curated by Francesca Ceccherini and Roger M. Buergel. The exhibition “Life lines” is supported by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Zurigo.


Title Image: Parcours – 2 Dias & Riedweg / Paris 2005. Courtesy of the artist


  • 20 Jun 2021 3:00 pm
    With Yann Stricker and Roger M. Buergel
    About the self-image of neutral Switzerland and about the relationship between humanitarian work and politics.
  • 27 Jun 2021 3:00 pm
    Theme Talk
    With Eliana Sousa Silva, Margherita Moscardini, Li Mu, Dias & Riedweg, Francesca Ceccherini and Roger M. Buergel
    About the artistic part of learning processes, be it in school or in real life.
  • Events are included in the general museum admission ticket if not otherwise stated.