The Paradox


KONTAKTRAUM AUSLAENDER (Space of Contact) – Ideas explored in the exhibition

The Paradox

floor-artIn recent years, we have been confronted with an increasingly paradoxical phenomenon: the simultaneity of a progressive globalisation and a tendency to reclaim national, cultural and religious difference. Globalisation is a process of international economic and cultural integration, fostered by the availability and acceleration of world-wide transportation and communication. Many have written controversially about the chances and threats of globalisation, pointing out its cultural leveling and economic losers, but also its potential for addressing such global issues as climate change and public education. In recent years, however, the downside of a globalised world has become ever more apparent in its dangerous countermovements. Unable to bear a plurality of norms and worldviews, and increasingly worried about the disappearance of their proper traditions, many have sought refuge in a new nationalistic discourse. Against this background, migrants as the most visible and vulnerable constituents of a globalised world, have had to get their bearings within an ever more challenging context of living.

The visual signals in Kontaktraum Ausländer (space of contact – foreigner) are accompanied by distorted sound messages calling for attention, which somehow interact with the visitor’s route. What is more, strange objects are suspended from the ceiling and cut the viewer’s line of sight. At a closer look, they reveal themselves to be works of art of their own, tied up and nailed together, so that only their bare backs are visible to the baffled spectator. The result is a paradoxical situation. In a context of art display, the traditional work of art, the canvas on the wall, turns provocatively its back to the spectator. The art work, deprived of its proper function, looks strange and unsettling. The visitor is bereft of the usual clues for art reception in a gallery space and must somehow come to terms with the unknown surrounding. Showing art works without revealing them is a provocative act which challenges the common habits of art consumption and forces the visitor to find new resources for understanding and experiencing his environs.

Marion Haemmerli, Lausanne, Switzerland