The Secret World(s) of Basel Carnival
This project is an exploration of intimate secrecy of the Basel Fasnacht underground world until it gradually reaches the surface of the city. In a city where the presence of foreigners is estimated to be up to 35%, such extensive silent work remains invisible to local inhabitants and mostly unknown to the expat’s community.
Dating back to 1376, and recognized by UNESCO as an element of Intangible Cultural Heritage in December 2017, Basel “Fasnacht” (Carnival) is the only Protestant Carnival of the world. For this reason, on contrary to the traditional Catholic Carnivals, it takes place the week after the Ash Wednesday, starting in total darkness on Monday at 4 am with the “Morgenstraich” (the morning parade) and ending exactly 72 hours later. Unlike other Carnivals, only members of local cliques – playing drums and fifes and marching in grotesque masks and costumes – are allowed to participate.
Fasnacht 2020 was supposed to start its celebrations on Monday March 2nd; however, due to COVID-19 infection spreading to Switzerland, the Carnival was cancelled less than three days before its start. For the first time after the Spanish flu and World War II, “die drey scheenschte Dääg” (the three best days of the year) did not occur, leaving many in despair and streets and businesses completely empty.