THE LIFE OF OUR NEIGHBOUR IS ALWAYS THE LIFE OF THE ‘OTHER’. One can chat a thousand times on the landing, share a cup of coffee together, water the flowers for one another – once the apartment door is shut, we let neighbours be neighbours and each lives their own life. It is no different with neighbouring countries.
German-Czech life-worlds are first and foremost the life-worlds of the Germans and Czechs. In the globalized world of the 21st century, living as direct neighbours is becoming less and less important: the economy, tourism and migration are shaping specific experiences and emerging as paradigms hardly explainable by describing relations and conditions in a Central European context. It is beyond question that no progress can be made without an awareness of shared history and without trying to build transnational bridges. But the success of a bilateral cultural project relies moreover on the precision with which it sets its sights on the concrete living circumstances of the people in the respective countries. It is precisely with this in mind that Zipp developed three projects in different artistic formats.
No-one who does not take a closer look can say what things are really like in the German-Czech border region. Do Germans and Czechs only know where they can get the cheapest bargains on both sides of the border? What – asks the theatre group Rimini Protocol (Helgard Haug / Daniel Wetzel) with their production Vùng biên giới – lies between Dresden and Prague? Vietnam. It is the border region of a generational experience: having arrived as contractual workers in the fellow communist states of the GDR and the CSSR, their children grew up in snack bars, convenience stores and stands set up close to the border. But they want more. A state drama.
Concurrently, German and Czech documentary filmmakers involved in the project Breathless endeavoured to capture social realities at a time when everyday life is already being determined by a rapidly accelerating consumer culture. It could well be that by working together the filmmakers first became aware of the extent to which globalization sets their themes and how strong the formal similarities are between the documentary traditions in both countries.
And finally, these filmmakers shared a problem with the radio artists from rádio d-cz in both countries: how are their demanding and challenging works to be realized in a media landscape which, under the pressures of increasingly standardized broadcasting formats, is less and less inclined to feature experimental approaches? And yet it is precisely the medium of radio that is perfectly suited to achieving blanket coverage. As long as it is not restricted to reception via the internet, radio provides art with an incomparably large platform. Radio transmits its programs directly into the life-worlds of its listeners wherever they may be at that moment. Are not the airwaves ideally suited for questioning the concept of territorial borders rigidly affixed to national categories?