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  • Christian Hain

The Grand Tour; Manifestations of Fair from Zurich to Basle

(Switzerland.) We went to Zurich for the latest edition of Manifesta, a Pan European Biennale that has been touring the continent for the past twenty years. Manifesta’s main offices are based in Amsterdam, and we have our suspicions how that choice for Zurich came about. We see tired Biennale staff, red eyes, wide pupils, when somebody comes up with an idea, one of that “never again!” sort of ideas: “Guys, let’s go to Switzerland. No party, no noise, only mountains and shit. Nobody's able to afford even a beer in Switzerland.” The vote was unanimous. And because Manifesta Zurich opened just days before the other important art event in the home of democracy, chocolate, watches and ultra-HNWIs that is the world’s most important luxury goods fair Art Basel, we decided to do a road trip for both.

At the time, taking the car seemed like a good idea. We stayed overnight in a medieval German village about two hours form the border with literally not a living soul to be seen on the streets, “Ettenheim” we think it was called. Having hardly slept at all, we left early in the morning before anything worse could happen, and the joys of the Autobahn soon made the time pass fast again. There are no border controls, even if you are not a migrant, and you could almost miss your arrival in Switzerland were it not for the speed limit and the tunnels. Our first impression was “looks like Southern Germany, rains like Northern Germany.”

Switzerland is a favourite transit country for European tourists. You don’t go on holidays in Switzerland, you traverse it on your way to the Mediterranean. You get in, pay for the use of their motorways (only available at a yearly rate), and get out again as fast as you can. Swiss people don’t want to change this, they don’t want you to stay overnight unless you acquire at least one chalet and a Patek complication. If you dare to be unique and stop for a night in Zurich or Basle - even have dinner in a restaurant -, you risk spending your entire holiday budget on that one night alone (and not in Vegas style, mind you!), you might find yourself compelled to sell car, clothes and body for a ticket home the next day. The only sort of people going to Switzerland on holidays come in a brand-new Bentley (thinking about it again, the weather just screamed “Bentayga”) with a suitcase full of tax-sensitive money in the trunk to feed their safe in the dungeons of a Zurich bank, and leave with a wristful of watches that almost outvalue that suitcase. Our car is not a Bentley, nor anything remotely fitting the description “new”. It has four wheels, and it is old enough to have graduated from art school with a full diploma.

We were incredibly lucky to get a place in the ten bed dorm of a hostel in Zurich’s red light district (that sounds funny, and it really is, this must be the world’s cleanest red light district) for about 40 Francs a night, breakfast not included. This is less than you will be asked per day for a lot in a car park. There are also parking metres on the streets but those take eight Francs per hour – except on Sundays which was the day we arrived. Not knowing this, we put in two Francs (1) and registered at the hostel. Then hurried back only to realize the money a Swiss has, he will never let go again. Impossible to get it back. This was the moment we reconsidered our idea driving into Switzerland.

“Pecunia non olet” the Roman said, but Zurich did that day. The European floods we’ve met with at Paris some days prior had reached the river Limmat. It smelt for dead fish like, well like dead fish do, honestly, you don’t need a metaphor here. We presently realized, it would be either using the public transport or buying food and drink in Zurich. After long and tough negotiations, our self preservation drive got the upper hand, and the first walk led us to the local Manifesta office where we checked our invitation mail again and read, press registration was not here but at Löwenbräukunst, one of the main exhibition venues. On our way there, we passed through the main station that those of you who take the train will see first of Zurich. It’s cleaner than the cleanest room of a five star superior hotel anywhere else in the world. There is clean Jazz music playing over the clean speakers, and even the beggars are cleaner than bank executives are anywhere else in the world. Or maybe that guy who asked us to change a ten Francs bill was no beggar at all. With our non Swiss reflexes we hurried on in silence. Three days later in Basle we observed an Art Basel VIP shouting at an old gipsy woman “Begging is verboten here, you hear me: V-E-R-B-O-TE-N!” outside the fairground. At least he was not superstitious. But for now we’re still in Zürich.

We actually got hungry before we reached Löwenbräukunst. Under the polish, Zurich looks like the rest of globalized Europe, with McDonald’s, Starbuck’s and Kebab stalls on every corner, the same faces doing the same business, talking, acting and thinking alike, but the difference is, you won’t get a BicMac for under ten Francs (about 9 Euros, or 12 Dollars). That’s significantly more than in Monte Carlo. Again: Switzerland does not like tourists. For another particularity, McDonald’s Switzerland does not have those warming racks, you wait while your burger is freshly prepared (like at Subway’s which we visited too. None of them paid us for the mention, or only treated us to the free meal that we would have needed so much). Now we hesitate, shall we continue chronologically or not? To cut it short, we did not visit the exhibition that day, we got our accreditation and the free giveaways (a cotton bag!), then went to watch a UEFA Euro match on TV (we’ve been tired, really). At night, we drove the car out to the lake. We found a free spot on an unguarded stretch of wasteland right at the waterside, somewhere between Herrliberg and Uetikon. The half an hour ride back into Zurich took us more than twice as long as we were paranoically changing trains at every station to avoid ticket inspectors. We probably risked immediate deportation from train, Zurich and Switzerland, if not worse by this rebellious, thoughtless, utterly un-Swiss act.

We stayed at Zurich for two nights, we saw a lot of art, we took a lot of notes, but trust us, it would not hold a lot of interest to type them all. We cannot even decipher all those notes, sometimes it seems we forgot to add such trifles as the artist’s name. Löwenbräukunst, a cultural site potentially sponsored by German/Bavarian beer brand Löwenbräu (literally: “Lion’s Brew”) a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev houses a number of commercial galleries, among them each and every Swiss gallery you’ve ever heard of. First and foremost the corporate monster that is Hauser-and-Wirth-Zürich-London-Somerset-New York-New York-LA. They currently show classics with Schwitters, Miro and Arp. How many millions in these rooms? How many assistants surveilling us? And how disgusting those business school types chatting away at the counter.

Manifesta’s motto is “What people do for money”. When it comes to Switzerland, the answer might well be “everything”. But only if it’s real money - on the streets of Zurich we overheard a middle aged woman telling her husband, “in that case it would be 80% - then it would be profitable again!” (we’re not making this up).

We believe the Manifesta exhibition space usually serves as a museum, but it could also be unused stocks or Iwan Wirth’s private dressing room. Art-life-work balance, art leaves its domain and visits the world, the artist gets a job - or back to an imitation of life? Participating artists engaged in a cooperation with mortal Zurichians, who did not matter in their individuality but stand for a type, a profession. The artist-cum-curator Christian Jankowski is sometimes a bit shy about his sources. In an introduction to the show, he writes: ”Professions are about more than earning money. (...) professions (...) end up shaping how they perceive themselves as individuals, as well as other people perceive them. After a while, you speak like a professor, look like a model, travel like a businessman, drink like a barman, think like a banker..." Taken like this it sounds refutable - what is cause and effect, many barmen don’t drink, etc. (oh, and the professor’s speech is greatly parodied by Eric Duyckaerts) – but it basically is the kindergarten version of essence and existence. If you’ve read Being and Nothingness you might add “and a waiter will assume the role of a waiter”. We are a little afraid, Jankowski is not aware of it. One last point before we start: the catalogue/guide book is great, you almost don’t need to see the art itself! Now, these are the works that stick to our mind for one reason or another: Pablo Helgeura’s art world cartoons in the staircase are a perfect introduction, funny and on point. They add to quite a lot of works dealing with the production of art for a living. An entire room focuses “self portrait and self promotion” with Chris Burden’s TV spots from the Seventies, an invitation card from Ed Ruscha (1973), Mel Bochner’s poster for Conceptual Art The Movie, but also some contemporary artists like Giovanna Olmos. More works focus art world professionals, big sculpted heads of curators and critics, and collectors are present with two gentlemen considering an acquisition (Messrs Hanhart and von Castelberg Contemplating the Purchase of this Artwork, a painting by Margrit Jäggli, 1974). Only the gallery sector seems amiss. Would not this exhibition be the place to finally talk about top galleries only hiring salespersons who don’t know shit about art but have sold jewellery and cars before, and would not mind selling TV sets and insurances next?

To Sharon Lockhart and her Lunch Break Sculptures (2003) matter more down to earth, traditional, working class heroes far from freelance, computers and marketing, whilst Werner Büttner sculpted and painted the workers of sport (A Cultural Imperialistic Boy Prank, 1987). We saw different work environments ranging from the first ever film Workers leaving the factory remixed by Harun Farocki (“courtesy Harun Farocki Ltd.” – now that man knows his business!) to Jiří Skāla documenting discarded Czech machines, and the invisible men in suits surveilling us for a living (Trevor Paglen, NSA-Trapped Undersea Cables, 2016). A meditative video by Mario Garcia Torres features an opera singer opera singing about life, the world, and all that stuff, but sadly there is no place to sit down in the little screening box. Sometimes we actually do like art that is influenced by video games, so in the case of John Rafman‘s sculpture/video installations. Norwegian photographer Torbjørn Rødland also has a solo show next door at Eva Presenhuber Gallery, and shows even more works at a dentist’s in the city. We’ve seen it all. The works in the gallery are the least impressive, colours, forms, nudity, materials, this we’ve seen too often actually. But his dental series is quite fresh, with menacing teeth hiding in fruits and sugar bombs. When your food wants to feed on you?

Fermín Jiménez Landa put an oven into a fridge into a sauna, he's also cooperated with a TV weatherman (or “weather prophet” as we’re used to call them – have you ever noticed how you can make your own previsions with almost the same success rate as the professionals? Take the temperature, take a 1/3 chance saying, "tomorrow will be colder/warmer/as warm as today", and add a 1/2 chance for rain). That weatherman he put into a climate chamber and made him feel his own predictions.

Mike Bouchet took the waste of Zurich from the municipal sewage works right to the show. Literally. One day’s waste produced by the city’s citizens in a pool of sludge. Strange, but even Swiss faeces don’t smell like roses. An artwork that merges Piero Manzoni and Andy Warhol: “Everybody is an artist”.

Carles Congost’s Simply the Best on the life of a Swiss fire fighter with a love for black music is shown in an small cinema, and it’s quite impressive. We would have watched all of it but after about ten minutes, Boss Man stood up and left. Boss Man sat in the first row, we had followed him for a while already. Boss Man was wearing a blue suit and was accompanied by a bearded older guy (his art advisor, we immediately concluded) and a female PA. He did not say a single word, or so much as glance at his subordinates, he stood up, left, and they followed suit, steps behind like a Saudi Arabian family. At that moment, we no longer cared for the art, we only cared for Boss Man. What did he work, was he Russian or American, and would we see him again in Basle?

We’ll never know, he disappeared. We hesitated for half a minute because we felt his entourage had noticed us and did not want us to become a part of their procession, we waited those thirty seconds too long, and then they were gone without a trace. Like the artists from the theme room on "art without an artist" just around the corner. There, Thomas Ruff’s galaxies borrowed from NASA meet James RobertsDeep Dream Generator, courtesy of google.

We also admired a work of mail art, a parcel sent from a Cologne gallery with €650 worth of catalogues inside - according to the invoice on top -, until a guard politely informed us, this was no work of art but somebody just left it there for the time being.

Immediately outside Löwenbräukunst we stumbled over the first of many artworks in the public space. Hundesalon Bobby by Guillaume Bijl is an actual dog salon where you can bring your beloved one for a haircut or a manicure. What people do for money in a dog’s life. Close to our lodgings was another public work: A hotel, a real one, reserved one room – No. 104 - for art. The story goes about transvestite prostitutes from Mexico who were invited to a game of poker in Zurich but got murdered before, or arrested. Or something like that. Red curtains are running down the walls like blood, and a sound system on the floor talks in English, Spanish and Swiss-German. We’ve been slightly confused, were we supposed to support their colleagues now, immediately? At Swiss rates?!? We passed on that one. (2)

The Manifesta map looks quite chaotic. Why not number the works geographically, offer sort of a dot-a-pix circuit? Too easy, not performancy enough? We erred through down-/uptown Zurich (the hills get quite high), and noticed how every other shop sold watches, and we’re not talking Swatch here but those equivalents to a three room flat somewhere nice. One of them we entered (store, not watch), the doorman was really nice, by the time he’d gotten used to "those Manifesta characters". In the cave of The Ambassadors jewellery (Horlogerie to be exact), next to a huge safe and a laboratory, or workshop, Jon Kessler presents one of our favourite pieces of the whole Biennale. An oversized clockwork, an absurd machinery, not large enough for Tinguely but truly Dada, much more Dada than the Cabaret Voltaire tourist trap (yes, we know, we just said there are no tourists in Switzerland) which is basically a coffee shop like any other with a backroom for panel discussions and performances, and staff who will be much annoyed when you dare asking them for the schedule of those performances (maybe that was an artist who took offense at our press badge; in which case we would sympathize and forgive). Almost a Zurich version of the Cafe de Flore. But Jon Kessler’s machine measuring meaningless moments, that’s life. And it actually has a meaning, something about modern machineries and "cuckoo drones".

When we arrived at Lake Zurich, we witnessed an anti-art manifestation reminiscent of Thomas Hirschhorn’s Eternal Flame. They wore banners with middle fingers and against “Manifestania”, together with political slogans of yesteryear. On the lake we sadly missed the announced performance of Maurizio Cattelan with a legless athlete shooting her fiancé through a bathroom d--, no just walking her wheel chair over water. This marks the Italian fun artist’s comeback, having spent some years in retirement and working exclusively on his Toilet Paper magazine. (It’s probably no coincidence how a wheelchair is a seat, too.) Maybe they did not want the Paralympian to get wet with the rain. Instead we saw a boat urinating from an opening on its side and a sign “fishing not allowed after 9 o’clock” (is that a.m. or p.m.?).

The Pavilion of Reflections can not be missed. A wooden construction on the water, it sways with the wind. Walking over the pier, our stomach started on its own reflections, but with some effort we silenced it. There is a pool and a cinema screen on it. Not for a public viewing event of Euro 2016, but people are invited to watch documentaries on the production of Manifesta’s art. On the side we found a row of confessionals, and wondered about their signification when we found the last one locked and somebody handling a hose nearby. Suddenly we understood: All of this is a public swimming pool! You’re expected to bring your Speedo and take a dive in the lake or the shallow water under that movie screen. We opened our raincoat and enjoyed the same experience.

The Helm Haus ("House of Helmets") is Manifesta’s second main venue.

The medieval tower is partly barricaded. In any other city you would think – or not even think about it but just accept the fact as given – “construction works”, or “vandalism”, but not so in Zurich. And indeed, this is art. Santiago Sierra collaborating with a security advisor means to point at war zones and disasters, as opposed to the Isle of the Blessed that is Switzerland. Fine, but the idea is not exactly followed through, it’s just plain unimpressive. Where is the barbed wire, where the sandbags, where the checkpoints? Only some windows and doors are covered with wooden planks, it looks like a minor accident at most. Not like an effectual protection against the zombie apocalypse. Inside you’ll find an actual chapel that Evgeny Antufiev decorated with butterflies (The Mothman Prophecies, anyone?), books, stamps and more investigating the triangle of nature, remembrance and immortality. A paper on the pulpit tells about the offertory being destined for the poor (we strained our necks to read it but did not dare to climb up). Another paper at the entrance reads “If you want to see a secret room, please pay one Swiss Franc”. Even if there had been anybody to receive the money, it's too obvious a fake. One Franc in Switzerland is not money. It lacks all buying power; beggars and little babies would laugh in your face, or feel offended for offering them such a worthless thing. It translates to a per cent of a cent elsewhere. And anyways, would it not be better to offer something to us, and see what we’d do for it, you know in line with that Biennale motto?

This must be the only church with restrooms, out of which at this moment a Jeff Koons lookalike emerged whom we followed down into the crypt. No contemporary art was down there, thus we climbed up again, convinced it was not really him (his two companions were talking Russian).

The actual exhibition at Helm Haus starts with a video featuring Latin American police men (strippers?) dancing and shouting (one of them is potentially portrayed by Danny deVito). Ceal Floyer got lost in translation, and Marie Calle is once more concerned with the only thing that ever concerned her – herself. We could much relate to an installation with a talkative bird in midst paper sculptures - about newspapers and Twitter? And then, there are works from writer-turned-plastic-artist Michel Houellebecq. We’re looking forward to his show at Palais de Tokyo later this year. At Zurich he also shows in a hospital, but we couldn’t find the time to visit there. He seems concerned with the absurd cult of sanity we witness today.

Wermke/Leinkauf’s documentary on their false flag operation on top of Brooklyn Bridge in 2014 – it caused much uproar and legal troubles - certainly involves profession-al reactions of security agents, but it seems quite a stretch to include it here. To cut it short: some of the art has obviously to do with the idea of work-life, and some has less.

Back on the streets of Zurich, we learned Parisian sweets Macarons are called "little Luxemburgians" here (“Luxembürgerli”), and went searching for more art. At “Wings” fast food diner we inquired, “You participate in Manifesta?!” upon which we were shown two paintings on the wall that looked exactly like paintings on the walls of fast food diners always look. Suddenly we stumbled into another performance: A woman in an unglamorous grey dress with “The Splendour of Art” written upon interrupted her talk when she noticed our gaze. Yes, she was a part of Manifesta. She touched our index finger with hers, saying, “Here I got cut when working in a kitchen”. She touched our wrist with hers, and said “Here I got tendinitis from working in an office”. To be honest, we cannot remember the exact injuries, but the idea was to describe scars and traces her personal - or imagined, you never know with these artists - work experience left on her body. She never caught pneumonia from a job.

Next stop was that dentist’s with his photographs of Torbjørn Rødlund. Together with us entered an elderly Zurichian. The nurses did not like the art and were not shy about it. We did a little better. Then, as we turned round to leave, that gentleman hold us back: “Wait, I have some questions for you.” These words are usually accompanied with a hand on your shoulder, and continued with “may I see your ticket/have a look into your backpack/get a blood sample”, but he eventually turned out to be a retired watchmaker not much impressed with contemporary art. We hope we could help him – and maybe even art to him. It was hard to judge from his facial expressions and words if we succeeded, both being equally sparse.

These days, you’ll find contemporary art all over Zürich. And not all of it is even Manifesta related: We liked Nicholas Micros Multitudes at Saint Peter Church, a sculpture made from casts of a hundred-something other sculptures in the city. Before we left Zurich, we took the car – it was still there, still had all its wheels and not the slightest scratch, this is Switzerland too! - for a tour of the famous Gold Coast, but we did not see Tina taking out the trash, or any other VIP living there. Next stop: Basle.

We’ve been there on the first day, the real first day, Tuesday, the preopening and private view day of Art Basel. But first, we had to park the car again. We found a garage, but, ok we won’t repeat ourselves: Basle is much the same as Zurich. Behind that garage, there was a street with one of two free spaces and no visible street signs. We stayed for half an hour using the situation as an excuse to strike up conversations with Baslers. One woman told us she had once studied art and now visited the fair every year. When we met her there again on Wednesday, and saw her companion, we realised she won't just look at the works. There was also a student with a green painted bike and a British accountant eager to talk to somebody, anybody, for a minute only. It must be tough to make contact in Switzerland. Finally having been shown the correct “Verboten” sign, we took the car some streets further down to the river (there’s always one in a Swiss city). We left it for the remainder of the day, and were lucky not to be fined. The next day when we came back to the fair – having spent the night in a hotel in the German Black Forest about an hour away – and what an enchanted ride it was, a raging brook to the left, steep rocks to the right, yet we’re sure not slightly as amazing as a journey through the Swiss Alps would be, but this is another story, - we left it at the FC Basel football ground because Google told us so. That cheap fee is only valid for the first two hours, the day cost us about the same as everywhere else. Plus the ticket for the tram to and back.

Tuesday, when we arrived at Art Basel’s press reception, their computers (Windows...) crashed the very moment they scanned our invitation. Half an hour later we – and all others waiting with us - got a Super-Duper-Master-VIP-Now-Move-Outta-The-Way-Or-My-Bodyguards-Will-Transform-You-Into-Swiss-Cheese-And-Dispose-You-In-A-Bowl-Of-Fondue ticket. It would even have granted us entry to the third floor, had we already known of its existence. We learned it the next day, the opening day for the not-so-much-but-still-somehow-VIPs (the public is allowed from the third day on, when all serious collectors, artists, and dealers have left). That second day, when we finally got our press pass that alone would not allow us on the top floor, but we also had an invitation to a round table with a photographer working for a Swiss watchmaker – the same that was sponsoring Berlin Gallery Weekend, we trust they did not read our review – we finally went up there. If you could not make it to the third floor, don’t be sad. Yes, the first day, it probably was the place to be, where Leo was sniffing caviar with Gago. (We spent the first two hours at the fair searching for Leo, but only mistook some random guy for Jerry Saltz, twice, and some other for HUO. Still it might have been they.) But on the second day, well it was just another fair on top of the fair. With booths of watchmakers, drug dealers (wine and Champaign brands) and Net Jets. Is there a mile high club for Art Basel?

The fair itself is not bad either, we could have easily spent scores of millions, for Longo, Twombly, Sugimoto, Laurent Grasso, Camille Henrot, Idris Khan, Lisa Oppenheim,..., if only we had those scores of millions. We even asked for prices occasionally. The huge Richter that Chinese guy bought after we had inquired (you’ve probably read about it) was offered us for €3m. A large Robert Longo went for 800k, “but that’s Dollars”, the saleswoman eagerly added as if it would change a thing.

At Zurich they asked “What people do for money”, at Basle they employ people to wipe the rain from the chairs in the courtyard. Considering the audience, “what people did for money” would be the more interesting question, but you don't dare asking.

It’s a phenomenon: sometimes you’re all alone on a booth, then you turn around a corner, and everybody’s there at once. At first we took the wrong direction and ended up with the not so top galleries, where even the dealers know, “who visits us at this time is in no way important”. We perfected our rich man’s walk, slow and determined, shoulders stretched back and don’t look anyone in the eye, and at least that one guy with the pink sunglasses took us for an equal when he smiled to let us pass through a door. We insisted on him going first. He did not offer us a big deal on something (art, arms, leveraged inverse ETFs, whatever).

One gallery (sorry, we cannot remember which) offered an installation of Timur Si Quin, and Julia Stoschek Collection should definitely buy it. It’s better than what they got of him. No, really: it’s great. Schippers/Johnen Gallery had a variation of that Anri Sala’s work where people are invited to scribble their name on the wall. We hesitated, maybe add “”? No, that would be unprofessional, too much. We’ll never make it.

Are Kerstin Brätsch’s paintings a poetical colour orgy borrowing from psychedelic chic and the natural beauty of mineralogy or a disgusting overkill that caters to rappers, sports personalities and fashion victims? You tell us. The modern art section had some beauties too, Zlotinski Gallery brought about fifty Schwitters', there is definitely a revival of the German Dadaist (or MERZist, because “MERZ ist nicht DADA”) happening. Once, we asked for an artist’s name, and, man, are they pro! The answer was precise, followed immediately by “Do you know his work?” We did not. We hesitated for an instant but remembered a Parisian modern art dealer who once told us “c’est mieux de passer pour un idiot que de passer pour un con”. (Basically the knave and the fool.) We just shook our head and left. They certainly don’t have time to waste with people who are no true collectors.

You think, Art Basel’s floor plan is confusing? Wait till you search the exit. It’s a maze. And the visit gets exhausting. On the second day already, people were yawning, maybe also owing to the weather – the rain had stopped; we saw dealers in negotiations, security guards and many visitors all open-mouthed, and not for the art.

Art Basel Unlimited, a hall for works too big for a fair booth, not exactly Monumenta scale, but still XXL, was great. We are in love with Alicja Kwade. People were queuing for James Turrell, as usual. You could argue, it does not exactly make sense to show videos here, which could be done on small tellies but fine, that’s the galleries’ choice. And the Art Basel Parcours with works in the city was also great. Judging from what we saw, the city of Basle is a lot prettier than Zurich. Finishing the half-marathon, we also discovered the queue for the opening party at a restaurant, but sadly our invitation had got lost in the mail.

The world’s most important art fair was a success, it always is. And they are determined to maximize on the profits. We won’t complain - not much at least – about the press not getting any free catalogues, not even a discount on buying one. But Art Basel runs a crowdfunding campaign to support projects of non-profit art organizations all over the world. That’s right, a multi million Francs corporation that earns a ridiculous amount of money with each fair (and there are Art Basels in Miami Beach and Hong Kong too) is not ashamed to ask the public to donate for charity, and to rake in the publicity for it. It has nothing to do with promoting non profit art organizations, but it's all marketing. It would be ridiculous if it were not disgusting.

We can recommend a visit to Switzerland, but if you’re not coming to Art Basel to buy, don’t stay for the night, and bring your own food. Switzerland is like a country suffering from hyperinflation but nobody has told the banks yet. They don’t apply the actually appropriate conversion rate of 10 or 15 Swiss Franc for one Euro/Dollar, but -roughly- one for one. Byron put it thus: “Switzerland is a curst, selfish, swinish country of brutes, placed in the most romantic region of the world.” This seems a bit harsh. And for all the rain we did not see much of the natural beauties.

We still love them for their democracy. And Heidi.

edit: Four weeks after our return home, we received a souvenir in the mailbox that convinced us to never again set a foot in this %?$& of a #@^§* country.

Surpassing the speed limit of 50 km/h (31.07 mph) by 2 km/h (1.24 mph) five metres inside the city limits of Zurich will cost you 40,- CHF. Our first assumption was that the IQ of those responsible for such laws, and those who enforce them, must be inferior to that value. Thinking about it again, we concluded it is rather a proof of high criminal energy, an act of traditional highway robbery performed by ruthless authorities.

Manifesta 11, Zurich, 11 June-18 September 2016

Art Basel, Basle, 14-19 June 2016

World of Arts Magazine - Contemporary Art Criticism

1) Little excurse on Swiss money: A two Francs is about the same size as a five Francs, a 10 Rappen (= cent) much larger than a “half-a-Franc”. The least valuable coins are the only ones coloured gold. And if somebody, learning you'd go to Switzerland, gave you a historic banknote from a long forgotten series, they will take it (possibly to eBay where it fetches two Francs more than the printed value as we found out later).

2) Ok, to put it straight: one got murdered, one got arrested, and the remaining ones finally played in Mexico. The game was filmed and is shown not in Room 104, but at Löwenbräukunst. The artist is Teresa Margolles.



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