Public Art in Zurich
June 08 - September 01, 2019
Nicolas Vionnet, Raubzeug, 2019
hunter’s stand (spruce roundwood, roofing board, acrylic glass), solar energy system, audio system
Tessinerplatz (Bahnhof Enge), Zurich (CH)
Courtesy Nicolas Vionnet and widmertheodoridis, Eschlikon
Participating artists: Cristian Andersen, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Zürcher Bildhauer (AZB), Olaf Breuning, Angela Bulloch, Hamish Fulton, Matthias Gabi, Beatriz González, Florian Graf, Severin Hallauer, Robert Indiana, Renata Kaminska, LAST (Nico Lazúla / Ruedi Staub), Adolf Luther, Mélodie Mousset, Reto Steiner, Veli & Amos, Nicolas Vionnet
Curated by Christoph Doswald and AG KiöR
Photography: Nicolas Vionnet
The public space has to meet many requirements and is highly symbolic at the same time. The debate on a white, male-oriented monument culture, which has preoccupied the international public in recent months, has once again reminded us of this. There is little tradition of honouring heroes in the federalist grassroots democracy of Switzerland. Nevertheless, a Swiss artist is prompting debate with a special kind of monument at this year’s Venice Biennale: Christoph Büchel’s drastic contribution to that exhibition, which runs until the 24th of November, is called Barca Nostra – he has transported the wreck of a sunken ship that cost over 700 refugees their lives in 2015 to that lagoon city, for it to be exhibited at the Venetian Arsenal.
When artists bring topics relevant to society into the public space as artistic positions and statements, they encourage members of the general public to come up with their own stances on these topics. Art is given a societal function. Polish artist Renata Kaminska, whose large-scale intervention makes Basteiplatz its home this summer, pursues similar goals. With her piece Phantom Monument, she evokes the politician and pacifist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), who was murdered because of her political stance 100 years ago. Luxemburg came from Poland, and lived in Zurich and Berlin. In today’s highly nationalist Poland, Luxemburg is a “persona non grata”, much like other inconvenient intellectuals. This is also evident in the public space: the commemorative plaque on the house of her birth in Zamosc was violently removed in a recent cloak-and-dagger operation. This is why Kaminska wants to revitalise remembrance culture. After Warsaw and Berlin, her Phantom Monument will now spend all summer in Zurich, serving as a reminder of Rosa Luxemburg’s work, which incidentally also left its mark on Zurich.
The project series Gasträume offers an invitation to witness such interventions, for which the public space is predestined. The poster project by famous South American artist Beatriz González also has a socio-political background: she has arranged for large-format posters depicting mourning women to be put up in the urban space, thus evoking the painful societal consequences of the Colombian Civil War.
Many renowned galleries, along with several institutions and artist-run spaces that are decidedly committed to the mediation of contemporary art, make Zurich a prominent location for contemporary art. Since 2010, together with these partners, the Work Group for Art in Public Spaces (AG KiöR) has been organising an exhibition format that makes the significance of contemporary art visible in everyday life and gives a relatively wide audience an understanding of it. Gasträume provides space, assesses the submitted proposals with a high-calibre jury and presents these artworks in the urban space during the months of summer. Having now firmly established itself in the city’s cultural calendar, Gasträume attracts an ever-growing number of visitors. This year, artworks and presentations, some of which were conceived specially for the occasion, are on display at 17 sites in the city centre, Zurich West, Schwamendingen and Altstetten.
AG KiöR is fundamentally driven to enable an experience of the city as a space for exhibitions and debate – and Gasträume 2019 once again makes it possible to encounter art directly. Against the backdrop of Zurich’s rapid urban development, this immediate dialogue creates an opportunity to approach issues of urbanity from an artistic perspective, because art in public spaces, in particular, repeatedly provides a chance to take a different look at the world in which we live. Mobile billboards, traditional metal sculptures, posters and processual interventions, for instance, can be seen this summer – plus, for the first time, an artwork based on virtual reality, which can only be experienced with the aid of your own smartphone.
Chairman of the City of Zurich’s Work Group for Art in Public Spaces (AG KiöR)
You can download the 2019 exhibition catalogue right here (PDF, 49 pages, 9.5 MB)