A poli­ti­cal artis­tic inter­ven­ti­on that focu­ses on the situ­ati­on of ille­ga­li­sed per­sons in Switzerland

Shedhalle Gallery (Rote Fabric) Zürich, Switzerland. Exhibition “Work To Do! Self-orga­ni­sa­ti­on In Precarious Working Conditions” cura­tors Katharina Schlieben & Sonke Gau, September 2007. – December 2008. 

HF = 1 VOICE is a poli­ti­cal artis­tic inter­ven­ti­on by which Andreja Kulunčić res­pon­ds to the invi­ta­ti­on of cura­tor Shedhalle from Zurich. The the­me of the exhi­bi­ti­on was self-orga­ni­za­ti­on in pre­ca­ri­ous work con­di­ti­ons, the­re­fo­re the artist invi­tes ille­ga­li­sed Swiss immi­grants* – people who live wit­ho­ut pro­per docu­ments to par­ti­ci­pa­te in the cur­rent reno­va­ti­on of the Swiss Parliament buil­ding by dona­ting one franc. The sym­bo­lic ges­tu­re of the dona­ti­on is actu­al­ly the­ir act of spe­aking up, of poin­ting out the­ir own exis­ten­ce in a soci­ety that does not recog­ni­ze them, and which they main­ta­in daily with the­ir work.

The col­lec­ti­on of money was pre­ce­ded by a public call to Sans-Papiers immi­grants to anonymo­us­ly par­ti­ci­pa­te in the dona­ti­on thro­ugh a mon­t­hs-long media cam­pa­ign thro­ugh a lar­ge digi­tal dis­play at Zurich’s main sta­ti­on, pos­ters in public spa­ces, news­pa­per ads and leaflets, which sen­si­ti­zed the public, and a paral­lel silent cam­pa­ign — direct appe­al ille­ga­li­sed per­sons who were often reac­hed thro­ugh hid­den chan­nels — the goal of which was not only to invi­te par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on but also to empower disen­fran­c­hi­sed per­sons for poli­ti­cal dialo­gue with gover­n­ment representatives.


The Parliament accep­ted to rece­ive the col­lec­ted money, but two hours befo­re the public act of han­ding over the dona­ti­on, it wit­h­drew its deci­si­on. The col­lec­ted amo­unt is today in the acco­unt of SPAZ (Center for ille­ga­li­sed per­sons, Zurich) waiting for a gover­n­ment that will be more open to ille­ga­li­sed wor­kers in Switzerland.


* acti­vis­ts esti­ma­te that aro­und 300,000 people live ille­gal­ly, that is, wit­ho­ut valid docu­ments in Switzerland. The “offi­ci­al” num­ber is 80,000 people.

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