Alan Alpenfelt Swiss performance and installation artist, theatre director and trainer, community & youth radio empowerer, record producer. 

I Am Here Now

I will examine the memories of extreme experiences; of offences undergone or offences inflicted. In this case every, or almost every thought which could obliterate or deform mnemonic recording is laboured: the memory of a trauma, suffered or inflicted, is in itself traumatic because it hurts to remember or, at the very least, it will disturb. He who was injured, tends to remove that memory in order to not renew the pain; he who instead inflicted, chases the memory back into the depths, to free himself, to reduce his guilt.

Primo Levi
The drowned and the saved

Audio installation
2015 - 2018

Concept, interviews, sound design
Alan Alpenfelt

Ravi Tironi

In collaboration with
RSI - Rete Due

We are distinguished by our own history. Our choices and destiny depend upon it. Knowing the story of who surrounds us allows us to know ourselves better. But bombarded by images of war and inherent tragedy from the rest of the world, in part inured to them, in part addicted to evil, we forget to question what happens to the people that have truly experienced the reality of these devastating hostilities.

In 1991 Ex Jugoslavia was subjected to an appalling civil war which seized the population unprepared. The peculiarity shared by who survived the conflict is their incredulity that war, violence and hatred could so suddenly erupt between neighbours and previously peace-loving citizens.

It seemed that in Europe the disgraceful and shocking veil of ethnic cleansing had been buried at the end of Nazism, or at least the brutal force with which it shattered our continent had been quashed. The Balcan wars proved the contrary and reminded us that the most dramatic tragedies can occur even in front of our own house door. The ill-omened event re-opened many wounds exposing once again the capacity of one group or individual to desire the annihilation of another.

Consequently, Western European countries, witnessed a flood of refugees seeking political asylum. Those of us who attended elementary and middle school in the ’90s can surely remember new children sitting in the classrooms, with strange names and different looks, speaking a language never heard before. We all knew of a war we’d seen on TV and we guessed they came from there. However, nobody knew what a war was nor what these children had gone through before entering the door of our classroom and sitting among us. Childish racism broke out against who couldn’t integrate immediately, who wasn’t fun at first sight. They would defend or ridicule themselves just to be recognised in the eyes of the others.

This work shows what happened to these children who escaped the conflict, yet brought with them memories of the atrocities of war, in all its different aspects. Children who, even if from different sides, all had something in common: that is, their struggle to make a new life in the country that first hosted them after their flight from their devastated homeland.

Twenty years from the last great European conflict, I Am Here Now reconstructed some of the stories of modern exiles which have by now lived the most part of their life in a country not of theirs and which had to reinvent an identity in an unknown place. They have blent into the moltitude of people living in Switzerland (and abroad) leaving the traces of their own past to vanish. Traces they carry inside, and one of the most intense experiences for human beings: war.

Discover more here

Funded by
Repubblica e Cantone Ticino - DECS
Dicastero servizi e attività sociali: Chiasso, culture in movimento
Migros Percento Culturale
Ufficio Federale della Migrazione - UFM
Servizio per lotta al razzismo - SLR
Ernst Göhner StiftungCittà di Bellinzona

Past events

High school of Lugano 1,
Lugano, CH

Teatro Il Foce
Lugao, CH
23 - 30.11.2014

Cantonal Library of Bellinzona
Bellinzona, CH
10.5 – 7.6.2014

Magazzini FFS, Chiasso