Contemporary art Fairs Switzerland

Public art with an altitude

Works by Swiss artists to be installed in some “challenging” locations in Alpine ski resort town

Work by famous Swiss artists will take over the ski resort of Gstaad next year as part of a major art project

Works by famous Swiss artists including Thomas Hirschhorn and Urs Fischer will be dotted around locations, both accessible and remote, in the glamorous Swiss ski resort of Gstaad next year as part of a challenging new public art project. “Elevation 1049: Between Heaven and Hell” (27 January-8 March 2014), which is organised by Neville Wakefield, the former curator of Frieze Projects, and the Geneva-born artist Olympia Scarry (grand-daughter of the children’s book author Richard Scarry), may test the endurance of even seasoned collectors and curators.

“Some [works] will be easily visible and accessible in locations such as the ice-rink, railway station or main street, while others will be more challenging and require a trip to the glacier, the Wispile [mountain], the Saanen airport or a remote Alp hut,” according to the organisers. “The intention is to suggest the Alpine landscape as an alternative to the sterility of the white-cube spaces to which we’ve become so accustomed. In different ways, each of the works will respond to the nature and beauty of this spectacular terrain,” Wakefield says. The pieces will be available to view online on a 24-hour live stream.

The exhibition, the first in a series of biennial-like, nomadic shows set in unfamiliar and challenging settings, includes site-specific works by more than 20 artists. These include Pipilotti Rist, Not Vital, Olaf Breuning and Scarry herself. Sam Keller, the director of the Fondation Beyeler near Basel, and Beatrix Ruf, the director of the Kunsthalle Zürich, are on the advisory panel. The Luma Foundation, established in Gstaad in 2010 by the art patron Maja Hoffmann, is backing the project.

Wakefield says that the show should throw light on the Swiss contemporary art scene, which remains largely unknown. “While there is a concentration of art and collectors in Gstaad, much of it is behind doors. ‘Elevation 1049’ puts it outside and free to the public.”

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