The work Erfan’s Notebook arose through a personal acquaintance of the artist with Erfan, a young man from Afghanistan whom he met in the transit center for asylum-seekers in Zollikofen. In the video, Erfan himself flips through the notebook with which he taught himself the Latin alphabet and the English language. At the beginning there are individual letters, then simple sentences that Erfan registered neatly into the notebook and in some parts, with the Arabic translation. Even more than then the progression of his language skills, the notebook allows us an insight of Erfan’s personal history – his flight from Afghanistan through Turkey into Switzerland. Empty or torn out pages, a rudimentary sketch of Europe with names of countries, telephone numbers and email addresses, give witness to the daily life in a dangerous journey of an unknown outcome. Supposedly mundane language exercises in Erfans’s notebook such as “Can I see your passport?” and “Have a good trip“ suddenly obtain a whole different significance with this background knowledge.
© Text by Stefanie Wenger (2017)