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Tag: switzerland


Old Haunt

In English, the idiom ‘old haunt’ refers to a place frequently visited in the past. This expression, which resists literal translation, conjures the image of the ghost. Ghosts of the living and dead alike, of both individual and collective spirits haunt places. In a word, places are personed and ghosts help constitute their very real, yet intangible historicity: namely their living memory. Memory, insofar as it is affective and magical, only accommodates those facts that suit it; it nourishes recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, personal or political, global, local or detached, particular or allegorical. Memory is subject to both (self-)censorship and projection.

Around a table an ensemble of five speakers re-visit – in the Swiss German dialect and accompanied by wine and cigarettes – their memories of the famous Café Odeon in Zürich: a contemporary, not yet crumbled ruin in whose still intact art-nouveau interior lie former utopias, stories and characters.

The video Old Haunt re-imagines this event as a polyphony of names, dates and anecdotes performed by a choir of soliloquists who move through harmony and dissonance. Joined by members of the audience, the a capella quintet delves into the past but performs in the present.

Workshop Participants: Martin Dreyfus (literary historian), Urban Gwerder (artist), Peter K. Wehrli (author), Sissi Zoebeli (fashion designer), Stefan Zweifel (art historian). Moderated by Michael Hiltbrunner and Martin Jäggi


Ornament And Crime

The video shows a slow close-up pan which creates an tactile inventory of the surfaces and materials of the café’s interior and its ornamental vocabulary, making an implicit reference to Adolf Loos’ 1908 essay of the same name, in which Loos denounces ornament as a crime against both aesthetics and function, and which was written in the period of utopian fervour prescient of Modernism.


Three Hours and Twenty-Five Minutes

Soundscape by Mikhail Karikis

The wish to establish the exact time that a tree standing in the forest needs in order to be converted into a newspaper has given the owner of a Harz paper mill the occasion to conduct an interesting experiment. At 7:35am he had three trees felled in the forest neighbouring the factory, which, after their bark was scaled off, were hauled into the pulp mill. The transformation of the tree trunks into liquid wood pulp proceeded so quickly that as early as 9:39am the first roll of newsprint left the machine. This roll was immediately taken by car to the printing plant of the daily newspaper four kilometres away; and no later than 11:00 am the newspaper was being sold on the street. Accordingly, a time span of only three hours and twenty-five minutes was required in order that the public could read the latest news report on the material that stemmed from trees on whose branches the birds had sung their songs that very morning.

[Karl Kraus]


Urban Inventory

Urban Inventory #1-4 consists of a series of four billboard posters which create an urban inventory by reading the city and collecting its visible and invisible signs. Close-up fragments of urban writing are recorded in the form of graffiti on walls, stickers on pipes and quotes by Italo Calvino/Michel de Certeau/Walter Benjamin/Geoges Perec/Iain Sinclair/Vito Acconci/Gilles Ivain/Frederic Jameson/Kevin Lynch/Yoko Ono. The fourth poster is a map which traces both the locations of the actual billboards and explores the experiential potential of a readable city. A book What the Billboard Saw / La Ville Mode d’Emploi recordsthe billboards’ own vision of the city.

This project was commissioned by Fri-Art, Centre d’art contemporain/Kunsthalle Fribourg and exhibited on billboards throughout the city of Fribourg from July to September 2005