Christoph Buchel & Gianni Motti

Christoph Buchel & Gianni Motti

Centre culturel suisse, Paris

September 10, 2004

Christoph Buchel & Gianni Motti

12 September – 31 October 2004

 Centre culturel suisse de Paris
 38, rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75003 Paris
 Press officer: Elsa Guigo
 tel : +33 1 42 71 95 67

Opening September 11 at 6:00 pm

The Centre culturel suisse de Paris is the representation of Pro Helvetia, Arts Council of Switzerland.

Guantanamo Initiative consists in immersing oneself in a geopolitical problem which, in principle, falls into a domain normally reserved for the State.
Christoph Buchel’s and Gianni Motti’s project consists in modifying the practices that regulate this kind of disagreement. []
In order to arrive at a global solution that would be applicable to other specific cases, strategies founded on a traditional mode of thinking must be redefined or approached from a different angle, one that inscribes itself in a field of permanent experimentation with perception. This necessitates a radical modification of our intellectual models.

Michel Ritter, Director of the Centre culturel suisse de Paris

The point of departure of Guantanamo Initiative is a geopolitical and juridical problem concerning Guantanamo Bay, located on south-eastern coast of Cuba.

In 1898, the end of the Spanish-American War and the Treaty of Paris left Cuba in a state of quasi-colonial dependence vis-a-vis the United States.
In 1903, the American government forceably obtained the ratification of the Platt amendment (1901), which granted the United States absolute right to interfere in Cuban affairs.
With this accord, and then with the Treaty of 1934 (signalling the end of the protectorate), the United States obtained a perpetual lease on the 117.6 square kilometres area of Guantanamo Bay for 2000 US dollars annually (4, 085 dollars today).

The Vienna Convention on the Laws of Treaties specifies that a treaty obtained through threat or use of force is null and void. The international legal community also stipulates that perpetual contracts are invalid and that one cannot require a party to assent to perpetual engagements.

In 1959, the new Cuban government requested that the lease be cancelled and the United States refused.
As a means of protest, the Republic of Cuba has ceased cashing the annual checks sent for payment of the lease and has continued to demand the restitution of Guantanamo Bay.
This zone enables the United States to avoid applying American law. According to their argument, this territory is subject to Cuban rule. While Cuba does effectively govern the territory of Guantanamo Bay, the United States has jurisdiction and total control there, thus creating an unregulated extra-territorial zone that flouts the fundamental principles of international law.

The United States is currently using Guantanamo Bay as an internment and detention center for “illegal combatants”. This is in total contradiction with the original lease, which provided for the establishment of “coal trade or naval stations exclusively, to the exclusion of any other object”.

The original function assigned to this territory no longer exists and has been replaced by another: the creation of an unregulated extra-territorial base, a new order in which the US does not have to answer to anyone.

This politico-juridical situation has attracted our attention and, given that the current lease between the two countries in null and void, we have undertaken negotiations with the Cuban government to rent Guantanamo Bay.

A pragmatic and peaceful solution to the problem of this lease would be to allow a third party to enter into a new contract with the government.

As new tenants, we would have to take necessary action against this illegal occupation.
In contrast with its current function, we propose to transform Guantanamo into a site dedicated to the promotion of culture. We envisage the creation of a laboratory in which would situate culture at the heart of contemporary debates, a space for culture, based on exchange and dialogue.

This project would enable a transition towards the political and cultural integration of Guantanamo Bay into the Republic of Cuba.

In parallel to the exhibition, from 9/11 to 10/31, an office will be open for the rental of the Bay and the future creation of the cultural base. All ideas and proposals are welcome:

image: Annual U.S. check for the rental of the naval base of Guantanamo(117,6 km2) un-cashed by the Republic of Cuba

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Centre culturel suisse, Paris
September 10, 2004

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