Unternehmen Algerien

During the long period of occupation from 1830 to 1962, Swiss trading companies and private individuals pursued economic interests. Henry Dunant (1828 - 1920) is known as the initiator of the world's largest humanitarian aid organization – the ICRC. Less known is that Dunant, at the age of 25, traveled to North Africa on behalf of the „Geneva Trading Company of the Swiss Colonies of Sétif“. It is the beginning of his activity as a colonial administrator and businessman, which shaped his later views and had a long-lasting impact on his life. Together with cultural researcher Ina Boesch, the exhibition focuses on this little-discussed phase of Dunant's life. Can Henry Dunant's colonial activities be reconciled with his philanthropic worldview?

For the exhibition design we worked closely with the curators and the exhibition constructors. The idea was to present a historical overview on three different cylinders. The concept given provided the possibility to divide the historical context into segments. In choosing fitting subtitles to represent Dunant’s engagement throughout the stages of his journey, the scenographic concept divides the timeline into three different segments: Dunant as a colonist, as a businessman and as an ethnographer. Facing a busy window front and giving the opportunity for spectators to be lured into the exhibition, a communicative layer to the outside was part of the initial design brief. Inspired by ancient maps shown in the exhibition, and further material studies by the construction team, a dotted line referencing shipping routes and indicating footpaths was chosen. In creating a fictional path, the visitors were able to peek into the cylinders and look at different historical material along the way. In the evening the inside of the cylinders were light with spotlights, illuminating Dunant’s path and highlighting the narrative visual.

  • Client
    Henry-Dunant-Museum Heiden
  • Year
  • Idea & Project Lead
    Kaba Rössler & Nadine Schneider (General management Dunant Museum)
  • Research & content curation
    Ina Boesch
  • Exhibition construction
    Fabian Troxler, Szenenwerk
  • Administration & Coordination
    Christine Rabus
  • Communication & Education
    Doris Baschnonga, Blanca Juon, Lea Schaffner
  • Reception
    Doris Baschnonga, Monika Fasola, Blanca Juon, Barbara Metzger
  • Support
    Gemeinde Heiden, Kulturförderung Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Paul Schiller Stiftung, SRK Kantonalverband beider Appenzell
  • Print flyer
    Druckerei Lutz AG
  • Exhibition fotos
    Jürg Zürcher
  • Venue
    Dunant Plaza as part of Henry-Dunant-Museum