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The Fence
An experimental Hörspiel & performance
by Jon Rose
The Fence is one of the most powerful analogies for everything that separates, controls & isolates the human race; in particular when the Fence is used as a regional or national border. In 1995 Jon Rose built and played a barbed wire fence as part of the New Music Festival at Viitasaari, Finland. It was modelled on the Cold War border that separated Russia and Finland - complete with live and armed border guard. From this experience came the idea to make an experimental radio work featuring an endless fence that circumnavigates the entire world, incorporating many of the conflict zones that seem unresolvable or remain as scars on the psychology of the people who must live on each side of these artificially created borders. Miniature sonic stories illustrate the fence's function... there are always sound political reasons for a fence, aren't there?

From the Great Wall of China to The United States Government plan to seal off the Mexico border with a brand new fence, from Korea's DMZ cold war relic to Israel's latest attempt to imprison the entire Palestinian people through building a separation fence, the species never seems to learn that (in the long run) fences, walls, barriers always fail - the foreigner, the refugee, the enemy, the stranger, or simply the OTHER is part of us.

Text of The Fence
From the radiophonic composition made for Sender Freies Berlin, 1997
by Jon Rose

Listen... listen to the fence.
once it was an 'Iron Curtain'...
the necessity of division
but here live no people who must be divided
it is too cold and too far
only the fence-men come here, they have their work to do.

They call it 'The Peace Line'. It is a fence too, and it runs through Belfast in Northern Ireland. And peace there never has been... ever since this fence of steel was built. American presidents have always enjoyed walls, borders, fences. There is something uncomplicated about a fence. Whether it be a suburban garden fence or a security fence... it's only ever got two sides to it. Simple.

Koreans know a thing or two about border fences. Two million soldiers play out an old story which refuses to become history. The fence must be kept in good repair... it still might be needed... at any moment. A fence with a hole is a dangerous fence. A fence with a hole makes everyone nervous.

Here in Cyprus the Fence is called 'the green line'. Although built in 1974, this is a '60's fence', you can tell that because the border guards play Beatles golden oldies to each other across no-man's land. On each side of this fence, as with all other fences everywhere, the fence-men get born, get married, get buried.

Who has the best fence? Difficult to say. But here in Australia they reckon they have the longest unbroken fence in the whole world at 5,400 Kilometers, twice as long as the Great Wall of China. It keeps the wild dogs from the sheep. When you cross from one state to another in the outback of Australia... there is a large sign at the border fence. It says "please put your animal & vegetable produce in the waste bins provided".

At some borders, like this one between Mexico & the USA, the poor shake the fence, they cry "Please let us in, we have no work, we have no food, please help us or we will have help ourselves". "The fence will have to be electrified" says the fence-man. Sometimes they find a way through... but our police are quite efficient...

And now we find ourselves in the Golan Heights between Syria and Israel. Here they call it 'the shouting fence'. It goes right through a Drews village. The villagers call to each other through megaphones across the 200 meters of no-man's land... "How is aunty?" ... "I heard so and so is getting married." ... "What terrible weather we've been having."

Der Deutsch/Deutsch Grenze;
In 1961 the fence becomes a wall
in 1990 the wall becomes an empty space
The empty space has to be filled.
trees... buildings... hurry please!
on Potsdamer Platz a new fence must be built
"to protect our building investment" say Mr. Benz & Mr. Sony.

In Bosnia Herzogovina there was a problem with the border fences. People kept moving them. It made life for the Fence men very trying. Then one day came news, everything had been decided. A completely brand new fence. All the people who had fought were very unhappy... the fence was in the wrong place... everyone agreed.

Listen... listen to the sound of the fortune tellers near the border between Hong Kong and the People's Republic. They are busy these fortune tellers. Next year the fence will be gone.

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