STATE FICTION ‹Helvetia Mediatrix› (publication), collection of archival material of the Swiss military on their neutral mission in the Korean Demilitarized Zone:
The project «State Fiction» is an exploration of the notion of Swiss neutrality, which utilizes the example of the Swiss ‹neutral› command in the Korean DMZ, which has been in operation since 1954. Bertschi has worked with both found text as well as photographs, which have emerged from an investigation into a Swiss military archive of mostly self-representing documents about the life of Swiss soldiers during their mission in the DMZ. Her work interweaves found images and text-slogans into objects, which behold a sense of contradiction: they present both the feeling of the domestic and at the same time grotesque violence regarding the very geopolitical situation that these materials stem from.
Within the visual language used by the armed forces, Bertschi found a striking number of flower photographs, shot in a meticulously precise manner. Mobilizing a quiet and subtle tone, she questions the status of these images and what they tell us about the people, who originally produced them. The work presented embodies a fluid status regarding the functions of the respective object, as well as in their hybrid character mingling Korean and Swiss materialities and techniques.
One of her works is being presented in the format of an artist book titled ‹State Fiction›, focussing on self-represented leisure activities of the DMZ command, photographed by Swiss personnel in the military camp located in the DMZ. The artist’s collection of these images questions the bizarre construction of ‹Little Switzerland› set within the militarized frontiers between North and South Korea.
Bertschi interprets neutrality as a sort of fiction, which forms the very identity of Swiss nationality and nationalism; meanwhile, being neutral is an extremely fragile state of being. ‹Helvetia Mediatrix› can be understood as a cover under which it leaves an open space for realities both unseen and unknown.
Year: 2015, image rights: Militärbibliothek am Guisanplatz, Bern