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It happens that the perception that human beings have of each other is conditioned by presuppositions. Old quarrels, historical facts lead people to mistrust, even to hate other people without knowing them, on the pretext that they belong to a reputed enemy camp: the Capulets against the Montagues in Romeo and Juliet, the Communists against the capitalists in the days of the Cold War, the Israelis against the Palestinians in a conflict that never ends.


FRIENDS/ENEMIES? - an ongoing project started in 2009 - deals with the notion of enmity through doubt, through absurdity. The work aims, in different places on the planet, in relation to different moments in history and different degrees of "enmity", to find a double from one "camp" to a person from the other "camp". Can two people who are alike to the point of being confused be enemies?


Different stages of the project have been discussed so far: Friends/Enemies? Israel Palestine, in 2009, brought together two children with astonishing similarities. Their photos were published side by side in major Israeli dailies and were featured in numerous presentations. During the Friends/Enemies? Belgium Wallonia Flanders stage, in 2010, one of the two look-alikes discovered refused to participate in the project because he did not want his image to be associated with that of a person from the other community living in Belgium. Friends/Enemies? Armenia Turkey, in 2011, found two boys - one Armenian, the other Turkish - with striking similarities. While praising the idea and the generosity of the project, the parents of the Turkish child - not wanting to risk their son over such a delicate subject - did not want his photo to be broadcast in the media associated with that of the little Armenian. The attempt, in Friends/Enemies? BRD DDR, to reunite East and West Germans by resemblance in 2014 on the jubilee of the twenty-five years of German reunification failed for lack of a look-alike proposal. Friends/Enemies? Balkans, in 2018, brought together two children, one Serbian, the other Bosnian Muslim. Note also that it was not possible, despite various attempts between 2011 and 2015, to bring together former US President Barack Obama and his Cuban double to achieve Friends/Enemies? Cuba United States. Other stages of the project are planned in the future.


To find look-alikes, Olivier Suter broadcasts at each stage of the project, in the form of an announcement, the portrait of several people from one of the camps in a media of the "opposite" camp. He asks readers or viewers of the latter if they know of a doppelganger to any of the people whose faces appear in their newspaper or on their screen. The publication is made in the form of a competition, without mentioning at this stage the origin of the people whose portrait is published nor the purpose of the project. Readers or viewers who unearth a lookalike receive a reward. If a double is found, the artist explains the project to him, asks him if he agrees to participate in the project and to be photographed side by side with his "enemy".





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