Valais, From The Heart

The title of this article is an attempted translation of the name of a video which has been making waves in Valais, via the national press. It was produced by a Website called 1dex (www.1dex.ch), which proclaims itself to be for a “free and independent Valais”.

The video is a parody of “Valais. Gravé dans mon coeur”, a lavish new promo video for the Canton of Valais, commissioned by the recently created quango “Valais-Wallis Promotion”. Spot the difference.

Valais à Coeur Ouvert is a riposte to the chocolate box image of the region, taking the viewer through some of the less palatable aspects of Valais: mercury and dioxine pollution from the Lonza chemical plant, noise pollution from army jets, mafia-style politico-economic stitch-ups by powerful clans, and so on and so on. It’s also an attempt to drum up interest in (and funds for) the Website. And indeed French-language tabloid Le Matin took the bait and ran with it, provoking dozens of comments on its Website (both for and against).

Is this another example of Valais shooting itself in its own foot? Some people seem to think that this is, yet again, self-destructive behaviour by a Canton which can seem to be its own worst enemy. The producers of the parody say that they were sick of the same old clichés being trotted out for national and international consumption (cheese, cow-fighting, granny’s apricot tart etc). One could argue that there’s a more positive way to promote a different image of Valais, as a modern, forward-looking high-tech Canton. But that would most likely have made less of an impact.

On one hand this could be dismissed as an example of shock, or emotional marketing for a Website looking for cash. But it isn’t just that: it is also a reflection of a strong vein of opinion in this canton that rejects a still dominant conservatism.