Dias & Riedweg

Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg, Sugar Seekers, 2004

Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg, Sugar Seekers, 2004

Since 1993, Mauricio Dias (b.1964, Rio de Janeriro, Brazil) and Walter Riedweg (b.1955, Lucerne, Switzerland) have worked together in collaborative interdisciplinary public art projects. Dias & Riedweg are distinctive for the way in which they allow the public actively to influence both the form and content of the final work. Over the years they have collaborated with a diverse range of people, brought together in each work either by their social, political or economic status or because of their own particular way of perceiving the world; the Other is here presented as much in his social-political significance to society as in his own subjective world. Dias & Riedweg do not set out to ‘judge, classify, teach, cure, improve or even change anything in the Other’s life’; rather, they open up a space in which private, anonymous worlds can be researched, rethought and represented in public space. For them, art is above all a constant exercise in poetic reflection.

Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg have worked together on interactive art projects since 1993. They have exhibited internationally over the last decade; Sugar Seekers (2004) for International 04 was their first UK commission.

Sugar Seekers (2004) continued the artists’ ongoing exploration of the rights of the individual within the territory of immigration and emigration. The starting point of these investigations was Liverpool, a city that has historically played an important role in the global pattern of migration. The young people with whom Dias & Riedweg created Sugar Seekers were at different stages of the lengthy asylum-seeking process, which categorised them in terms of risk; their personal desires and needs for a new life were negated within this system. Only the individual who has economic and political power can achieve the degree of freedom necessary to migrate at will: the desire to travel is not itself a humanitarian right.

The cameras were in the hands of the participants at all times. Evoking memories through sensorial workshops, collating documentary-style footage of group discussions, interviewing other migrants and compiling image archives from internet word searches, the young people worked intensely with the artists in the execution of Sugar Seekers. They redefine the terms of immigration and emigration that seek to label them solely as Refugee or Asylum Seeker. The focus of the collaboration was to move beyond sensitive personal experience to the wider contexts that have affected the participants' lives. Society's tendency to label them as ’victim‘ was refuted by the artists; instead the young people were given the position of power as Subject that speaks, rather than the Other that remains silent.

The resulting four-channel installation did not set out to document stories; rather, it opened up new definitions of the language of migration. The viewer added a further layer of interpretive possibilities when he or she interacted with the work: a touch command triggered by key words activated a new set of images and changed the narrative flow of the video. Sugar Seekers (2004) investigated the ways in which global economy and local politics relate to each other and the ways in which they don't.

Dias and Riedweg at Liverpool Biennial 2004

Sugar Seekers, 2004
Four-channel installation
Commissioned by FACT's Collaboration Programme in partnership with Liverpool Biennial and Tate Liverpool