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From Western Switzerland with Love
Revista Umělec
Año 2006, 2
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From Western Switzerland with Love

Revista Umělec 2006/2

01.02.2006

Annemarie Reichen | u-sobě | en cs

Steven Parrino: Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, Fribourg
150 km from Zurich



At the end of February, a new date had been penciled into the schedule; it would prove not only a good opportunity to meet many people and have interesting discussions, but above all a chance to be amazed at an exhibition of the Steve Parrino Collection Estate in Mamco (www.mamco.ch). It ranged from the early works of the New York artist who died in 2005 to his crumpled canvases and broken panel structures with a selection of drawings and video works. Fabrice Stroun, who among other things is well-known for his work as an independent curator and for his well conducted interviews with young artists from western Switzerland, including Philippe Decrauzat and Valentin Carron, for example, also curated the exhibition as the designated custodian of the Steven Parrino estate with an exceptional feel for the works and atmosphere.
Whoever thinks he or she is aware of what’s going in terms of museum culture these days without ever having seen the Mamco is quite mistaken, for the Mamco is a unique museum, place, machine, organ or whatever one chooses to call it. One reaches the museum, which is divided on the four floors of an old factory, by walking through a rear courtyard between parked cars. Instead of picking and choosing and buying a "best of" collection, Christian Bernard, the director of the Mamco since its beginnings in 1994, decided to create a collection of collections. He executed his visionary plan in that the museum, a complex housing of sorts, again and again serves other ends than simply representation. In a labyrinth of wooden bunks, the public discovered astute, intelligent and often subversive integrations of solo shows and combinations of the works of Denis Oppenheim, Sarkis, Gordon Matta-Clark, Vito Acconci, Frank E. Walter and many more. The western Switzerland art scene played an important role in all this, above all through the efforts of artists such as John Armleder, Sylvie Fleury, Francis Baudevin, Pierre Vadi oder Fabrice Gygi. As a museum, the Mamco is constantly renewing itself. Currently, large installations by Vincent Lamoureux and a wall painting by Philippe Decrauzat are on display. But it’s also the place where the unseen exhibitions of curator Agnieska Kurant are being organized; this February, for example, with Stephane Dafflon and Gabriel Leister.
If one talks about western Switzerland, one often thinks of Geneva. Many artists live in this city, such as the very active Gianni Motti or Fabrice Gygi. Also resident in Geneva are many galleries and independent artists’ spaces, such as Attitudes (www.attitudes.ch) with its varied program or Planet22 (www.planet22.net), which maintains the tiny exhibition space of a mere 2.7 cubic meters.
Yet western Switzerland is not merely limited to the Geneva scene, as can be well deduced upon consideration of Steven Parrino’s career. In the last three years he was shown in three different art museums in western Switzerland.
In 1998, Steven Parrino had one of first solo shows in Switzerland in CAN, or the Centre d’art Neuchâtel (www.can.ch). CAN has been up and running since 1995 and is still considered an outsider in the scene (in a positive sense), even in a financial respect. Generally, art institutions in western Switzerland are seldom as well financed as those in Basel or Zurich. In CAN, the ample spaces usually house conceptual, solo exhibitions, hosting artists such as Henrik Plenge Jakobsen and Lori Hersberger, for example. After five years at the Swiss Institute in New York, CAN’s first director, Marc-Olivier Wahler, was recently named Director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. In 2002, Steven Parrino was invited to Circuit (www.circuit.li) in Lausanne for a repeat of a 1997 performance and for a recording of a performancy by Electrophilia. Circuit is an independent space organized by artists. Lausanne is increasingly proving to be an interesting place; thanks to its Art academy ECAL and above all thanks to the exciting positions that are being represented there. In a few years, driven by the opening of the new museum for contemporary art, we’re sure to hear a lot more from Lausanne in the future.
In the same year that Steven Parrino was at Circuit, for one of his last exhibitions in Fri-Art in Fribourg (www.fri-art.ch), Michel Ritter organized a double exhibition by Steven Parrino Exit/Dark Matter along with objects by Valetin Carron. Today, Michel Ritter is active at the Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris. Fri-Art is a fantastic place where the art museum and its outstanding kitchen always treats visitors and guests very well. Since 2002, Sarah Zürcher has been the new director of the gallery and a short time ago opened the group exhibitions Stopover which is quite in line with her view of contemporary art; art is comprehended as a place in terms of questions of identity, fiction and reality. With the last few lines left to me I just wish all the best for the countless individuals that help make the exciting exhibitions on the West side of Switzerland a reality every day.




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