Each month, the Swiss curator Mohamed Almusibli presents a selection of digital works recently produced by Swiss artists, or artists living and working in Switzerland, in the Works section on the 5th floor, our digital extension. This one-year program aims at drawing a panorama of the territories and forms emerging from the Swiss art scene in all its diversity.
Program presented with the support of Pro Helvetia
Chapter One: Or Change, 08’08
Chapter One: Or Change, the first chapter of Valentina Triet’s adaptation of Susan Sontag’s Alice in Bed (1992) is based on the first act of Sontag’s play. In this film, as in the entire play, Alice is in bed with an unknown illness. A nurse comes to take care of Alice and the two of them talk. They tell each other stories and evoke images. Alice is Alice James, a woman from a wealthy 19th century New York house with famous “genius” brothers with whom she has close ties. The reason she is bed ridden is never explicitly stated. However, one thing is certain: Alice never gets out of bed, and it is explicitly because she stays in bed that she experiences the world and understands it — this is her “genius”, which is denied to her in the “world” of the 19th century.
Valentina Triet (1991, lives and works between Vienna and Zurich) is trained with a Master of Fine Arts in the class of Heimo Zobernig at the Academy of fine Arts in Vienna. In her short film, she is reflecting the lack of sovereignty of the ‘I’: the dependence on external influences — ideals, role models and icons — as guides and the ambivalence towards these.
Francesco Cagnin & Lorenza Longhi
We Thriller, We Comedy, 04’34
Stating one is both thriller and comedy is either a contradiction, which would mean someone’s faking it, or an exaggeration — the combination resulting in something like a slasher movie, scary and funny at the same time. That the title is grammatically wrong on top of it, lends it an absurd twist. We repeatedly read and hear words such as “disconnected”, “faux”, “broken”, “duplicitous”, “schizophrenic” and “ambivalent”. The first sentence of the video: “No subject, no possession, no identity, no brand, with voice and face separated from each other,” contrasts with the climax, paired with triumphant music: “The most exciting, challenging relationship is the one you have with yourself.” The sincere shades are difficult to tell apart from the ironic ones: There are sentences that praise forms of collectivity, that speak of the promise of support, sentences that question the idea of a unified, unambiguously gendered subject, others — at times highly theoretical — which reflect systems of production and reproduction. These sentences are read aloud by animated photos of the artists themselves, exposing the personal and at the same time performing a mechanical mask.
This blurring of a private and public self is not new, and certainly did not come about since social media. It raises questions on authenticity and its commodification (the personal is the most effective branding strategy), on possible escapes via fakery and roles that confuse. The fragmented, ambiguous, ever differentiating form, that appears in the videos, is, however, also the form of capital. The charlatan, who doesn’t care for reality or fiction, could be the devious figure of the rebel, but could just as well be the “ethics” by which capitalism goes functions (we’ve known for a while that they are schizophrenic). It can be anything you like and always changing. It can dismantle as much as you can, it can be critique, it can mime orders and disorders, it can confuse. To compare capitalism’s ethics to a person or self is, though, also impossibly annoying.
Clearly, in making a difference between the structures one is enveloped by and wants to critique, and one’s own critique fueled by dreams, dreaminess, aspirations and intimacies lies the friction that means the charlatan isn’t just endlessly repeating behavioural patterns. Self-reflexively taking up and aspiring to a multiple and fragmented form might mean taking on dissidence to the point of precarious self-disintegration. But it might also mean not just falling back into static ideas of a simpler time when over-seeable hierarchical structures were intact, structures that operated on a human scale. Performing in images for instance can also mean to hide in plain sight – anything can be staged as authentic or then authentically (as in obviously) staged, it can cater to an audience’s desire as well as protect itself from it.
Francesco Cagnin (1988, Venice) and Lorenza Longhi (1991, Lecco) hold a Masters in Visual Arts at ECAL Lausanne were they met. They currently live and work in Zurich.
Text by Geraldine Tedder. Film credits: in collaboration with Lorenza Longhi
Lynn Briggs, Lucie Cellier, Annabelle Galland, Alexandra Salem & Julie Schultz
Die Heilige Stunde remove mental blockages subconscious negativity dissolve negative patterns, 07’28
Die Heilige Stunde remove mental blockages subconscious negativity dissolve negative patterns is a collective project. The authors have come together with the intention of providing a critical and anachronistic look at the representation of the feminine in the work of national painter Ferdinand Hodler. The video is shot with a smartphone at the Museum of Art and History in Bern during the exhibition HODLER//PARALLÉLISME (20 April 2018 – 19 August 2018). The primary goal of the project was to invest the museum and create a generational and feminist clash via the way in which the works presented are approached and appropriated. Alexandra poses in the museum and in conversation with a chosen painting, used as a scenographic element. The voice-over, whose tone is inspired by YouTube relaxation videos, recites the text co-written by the authors using recovered fragments. The result is an imaginative combination of reflections on the notion of the modern and contemporary muse.
Lynn Briggs, Lucie Cellier, Annabelle Galland, Alexandra Salem & Julie Schultz are all trained at HEAD – Geneva and met exceptionally in 2018 to propose a piece for the collective exhibition ^Hodler^ (Live in your head, HEAD – Geneva). Their individual and collective practices are deployed through media such as video, performance, writing and installation.