An exhibition of the Jewish Museum Hohenems
In collaboration with the Jewish Museum Munich
While we are talking about globalization and international community, new borders, fences, and walls are erected all over the world—around states, occupied territories, and gated communities, between public and private spaces, between the legal and the illegal. Some of these borders are permeable and others fatal, some are visible and others reinforced by cultural codes, language tests, or biometric methods. Borders decide about life and death, “identity” and “otherness”, belonging and exclusion.
“The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan opposite Ephraim. And it happened when any of the fugitives of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him, “Are you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” then they would say to him, “Say now, ‘Shibboleth.’” But he said, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it correctly. Then they seized him and slew him at the fords of the Jordan. Thus there fell at that time 42,000 of Ephraim.“ (Judges 12:5,6)
Starting from the biblical story of the Ephraimites‘ escape from the victorious tribe of Gilead and its failing on the banks of the River Jordan, the Jewish Museum Hohenems has invited international artists to critically reflect upon borders—just a stone’s throw away from the banks of the “Old Rhine,” the river where in 1938 refugees tried to reach Switzerland. Today, though, the presence of these refugee dramas has been pushed to the edges of our awareness.