We met at the Rivington & Sons Hotel Bar in the Prime Tower to make a tour through Zurich’s hippest area at the time and see a selection of the Art and the City public art festival 2012. Where the highest building of the city (also referred to as downtown Switzerland) stands now, formerly the industrial area of Maag gearwheel factory was situated. Maybe it is a tribute to this company founded in 1913 that our meeting place looks like a New York bar back from this epoque. Beautiful setting!
We started our walk and can you believe it? Right at the beginning everybody was handed out a personal art work! Yes! Matt Mullican, the 1952 born US artist, now living in Berlin, designed the Art and the City map that locates all shown art works. He calls his conception of the world: „the theory of the five worlds“: yellow stands for the idea, black and white for the language, green for subjects matters, blue for the daily routine and red symbolizes the subjective conceptions.
And off we went to confront us right away with three statements of Christian Jankowski, (D, 1968, working in Berlin) in “The Great Gesture”: “Places for Art”, “The Role of Art”, “Art must set a sign at this place”. Can you make out the statement on the concrete below the bridge? Yes, there can’t be enough art, everywhere!
Not far from this one…. are we observed by suspended cameras by Taiyo Onorato & CiCo Krebs (CH, 1979, Berlin)? Let’s hurry away, big brother is watching us…! We arrived at the Steinfelsplatz with one of the highlights of this Zurich exhibition. It is the over dimensioned girl Vanessa by Alex Hanimann (CH, 1955, St.Gallen). Made after a real 18 years old girl, this chrome steel sculpture stands for the prototype of a modern girl. Behind her, you look at the former industrial area of the Steinfels soap manufacturer, founded 1830. You can still buy their lead products “Maga”, “Niaxa” and “Dish-Lav” to make your laundry and wash your dishes. The brands belong to Henkel now.
Our next stop was at the Schiffbauhalle. Zurich owes great thanks to Christoph Marthaler, it’s former ingenious theatre director, who was the initiator to conserve this hall and made it possible that in the year 2000 the Schauspielhaus of Zurich could open this wonderful place for more performances, for good food and jazz. Believe it or not, formerly the turbine producer Escher-Wyss was constructing ships in these halls.
Inside the Hall we find the installation of Fred Sandback (USA, 1943-2003). 29 acryl threads span from the ceiling to the floor and provoke a feeling of a curtain, just as in a theatre performance.
Coming out again we were searching for the artwork of Saâdane Afif (F, 1970, Berlin). It is the tiny bronze soap box (Steinfels?) in the corner on the floor. A speaker’s podest! We took the opportunity to speak up.
From the Turbine Place, we looked at the facade behind the Schiffbau and saw the huge map of “Metropole Europe” by Yona Friedmann (F, 1923, Paris) which is a great vision and the artist’s wish to connect the main cities of Europe with an efficient public train transport system. Each hour a train should depart to the other main cities.
We then entered Puls 5. This was formerly a foundry hall, established 1898 by Escher-Wyss. In the back of the hall we were suddenly irritated by someone’s voice whispering something in our ears. Looking up the ceiling, we discovered the sound sculpture “Skyliner” of Doug Aitken (USA, 1968, Los Angeles). The sound was hard to hear in the contrast of the typical muzak-sound of all shopping centers.
Coming back to Turbine Place, we saw it: the impossible! “Lifting the Earth”, Vanessa Billy (CH, 1978, Zürich) gave it a try. Archimedes said: “Give me a place to stand on and I will move the Earth“. Maybe this is it! Maybe here is the reason why our earth is still in equilibrum with the universe! Thank you, Vanessa!
Upon this we crossed the big Hardstrasse, leading in and out of Zurich, using a small walking bridge and were lead to the micro cosmos of idyllic family gardens in the middle of this uprising developing part of Zurich. We met “Apple Tree Boy and Apple Tree Girl” by Paul McCarthy (USA, 1945, Los Angeles). In America these hummel figurines correspond to Europe’s garden gnomes, usually standing in exactly these family gardens. Positioned here in Switzerland the artwork also hints to our land’s foundation myth, created by Friedrich Schiller’s “William Tell” saga, in which William Tell is forced to shoot the apple from the head of his son with a crossbow. He hits the apple, is led free and can initiate the first three Swiss cantons to freedom of the Habsburg kings.
A short walk to the rear of the Mobimo Tower and we detected two photographies of famous photographer Roe Ethridge (USA, 1969, New York). During his 10 day stay in Zurich he was capturing the new developments of Zurich in amazing photographs to be seen on a total of 350! posters placed throughout Zurich or see the Tagesanzeiger addition of May 24th, with a selection of his portfolio. In front of Mobimo (main sponsor of the exhibition) building parts of Charlotte Posenenske (D, 1930-1985) installation “square tubes, Serie D” are to be seen that you could also discover in other places in the city. Are these ventilation tubes? What are they for?
And can you make out what connection this huge “The No Problem Sculpture” by Not Vital (CH, 1948, Sent, Agadez, New York, Beijing) has with the Mobimo Tower? The edge length of the cube measures 81 meters. Exactly the heights of the Mobimo Tower! And, it also has exactly the depths of a well shaft in Agadez, a Sahara oasis in Niger. If this is not connecting the world….
While Not Vital is pointing to happenings far away in Africa, Pierre Haubensack (CH, 1935, Zürich) points his finger to the developments in Zurich West: his huge permanent wall painting “Net” is applied on the facade of a house that formerly was connected to another house that belonged to the city. The city tore their house down, whereas the other owner keeps his paradise in the middle of the developing surroundings.
Finally we arrived back at the Prime Tower, where we looked at the white tree of Ugo Rondinone (CH, 1964, New York). This sculpture is not part of the Art and the City exhibition, but an exhibit of famous Presenhuber Gallery, situated just next to Prime Tower. An artificial tree, may I say, that it suits even more beautifully in this setting than a real tree?
Next to it we encountered “A Lamp” by Oscar Tuazon (USA, 1978, Paris), a part of a ship wreck suiting therefore perfectly in this surrounding of former ship construction and industrial place.
We really deserved a nice refreshment at our Rivington & Sons Hotel Bar and enjoyed one last art piece, the audio art by San Keller (CH, 1971), Canti e Grida. The performance artist combines the adjectives used to describe the 43 Art and the City art works and makes an adaption to old 19th century market songs.