Commentary Margrit Bürer

Margrit Bürer is an important protagonist of community video in Switzerland. Margrit Bürer has enabled many groups to gain access to video making: children and teenagers, pensioners, women with migration backgrounds and also to activists in alternative cultural centres in Zurich who wanted to integrate video into their own practice. I know Margrit Bürer well because I have been working together with her for more than ten years. We worked together on, among other productions, a video called, Die langen Ferien (The long holidays).

Margrit Bürer: ‘We all together collaborated on this video film Die langen Ferien (The long holidays), which was all about retiring and what comes after. We, the young people, really could contribute something with our video know-how. On the other hand we learned about the daily realities of the old people in our group, which wouldn’t have been possible without this shared project. How this developed further and how we created this process together are happy memories to me. The finished film was screened on many occasions and became extremely successful for Pro Senectute, the foundation that had funded our project and which offers support to older people. This experience showed us that the film went down really well with people: Wow, here someone talks like me! And it is not an academic who tells me what I should do after retirement and how I should prepare myself’. (see Margrit Bürer, Video 12.46: Filming with the elderly)

Whoever is interested in video projects with children may want to watch The Mission. Margrit Bürer speaks about working with children: ‘In our work with kids we realized that they loved to play what they saw on television. At first we thought: This cannot be! Shouldn’t they invent their own stories linked to real life? But we learned that it was very okay, indeed, what they were filming. By imitating things they saw on television they developed a more creative understanding of what television was. And eventually they would come forward with their own stories anyway’. (see Margrit Bürer, Video 10.36: Learning from children)

Wishing you an inspiring viewing session.

Heinz Nigg

In the 1970s and 1980s, young activists discovered video as a new medium and used moving images in their struggle for access to cultural expression for the many, not the few. They were researching and developing new forms of independent and participatory media work. This was an important step towards realizing the utopian promises of the digital age.