Sam Falls

Sam Falls spends his artistic working time in nature. He creates paintings and sculptures that are characterized by prolonged processes of creation and by natural elements. He places flowers, branches or stones on canvases and creates representations of nature with the influence of wind, light, earth and colour pigments, often with reference to art history. His practice is committed to radical slowness and surrender. Nature is both a place of work and a place of refuge for the artist. In doing so, he does not seek the romanticism of nature, but a hopeful, personal space for agency, not least in the face of the climate crisis.

Healing and the harmonious interaction with nature are at the center of the Healing Pavilion. The sculpture offers two seats facing each other, inviting visitors to engage in intimate conversation with other people or alone in meditation and tranquility. The seats and supports that make up the work are filled with terrazzo made of precious stones instead of traditional materials such as marble, shells or glass. Each support contains specific stones with healing properties that work on their own or in combination with the others. Terrazzo has been used as a floor covering for buildings since antiquity, and here it has an effect both on the immediate environment - for example, with "unconditional love, even for stones underneath" - and on the visitors who touch it and sit in the sculpture. In this way, Sam Falls speaks of the coexistence of man and nature.

Untitled (Healing Pavilion: calm and balance, peaceful sleep, soothes frayed nerves, endo- crine system healing, mental organization, stress relief, patience, helps kidney function and fatigue, writer's block and truthfulness, overcoming fear, and unconditional love, respectively to stones below), 2015, Gemstone terrazzo, steel; Courtesy the artist and Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Vienna/Zurich

Martina Lussi

In her artistic practice, Martina Lussi devotes herself to attentive listening. The recordings for Soundwalk Weiertalwere made during a walk from Wülflingen station to the cultural venue. We hear a rumbling street, chirping birds, footsteps on the gravel. For the recordings - so-called field recordings - different microphones were used. Among them, for example, a hydrophone that records the sounds of flowing movements under water. Or a broadband receiver that registers electromagnetic fields that are imperceptible to humans. In this way, the Selecta vending machine at the station acquires a very unique presence with scratchy noises.

The recordings were processed by the artist into a "soundscape composition". They are not chronological and are not used in a purely documentary way. Rather, the sounds open up new sound spaces that relate to the real environment during the walk. By playing with different volumes, Martina Lussi's composition interweaves with surrounding sounds as well as bodily sounds such as breathing or footsteps. The meandering between these sound realities creates an almost dreamlike landscape.

The Soundwalk can be listened to on your own headphones on the way to the Weiertal cultural venue or directly in the garden and can be accessed via corresponding QR codes.

Soundwalk Weiertal, 2023, audio, stereo

Vanessa Billy

What is this creature crawling ashore? The floating sculpture Hellbender is reminiscent of an amphibian that is making its way out of the pond with sweeping movements of its spine. The artist used the fossil of a salamander that lived at Lake Constance more than five million years ago as a model. Today, its relics are part of the collection of the Paleontological Museum at University of Zurich.

The five-meter-long, archaic-looking creature recalls the evolution from water to land and at the same time evokes a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the influence of humans still lingers. By making her sculpture out of recycled PET, Vanessa Billy poses the question of what consequences our consumption - and the profit-driven economy that fuels it - will have for the future.

The artist also deals with man's ecological footprint on the planet in her sculpture Thorns and Crowns, which can be seen in the exhibition space. The two aluminum objects are based on the tire tread of a tractor; they look like plants or animals at the same time and play with our idea of "artificiality" and "naturalness".

Both Hellbender and Thorns and Crowns are starting points of a posthuman mind game: with her sculptures, Vanessa Billy makes us think of a world in which the supposedly dead material is brought to life; to a being with a will of its own, winding itself up - or just crawling ashore.

Hellbender, 2023, 3D-print from recycled PET
Thorns and Crowns,
2021, aluminium

Brigham Baker

There they pile up, the tires that have long become obsolete. What roads have they rolled down to end up here of all places? Here, in this well-tended garden with so much natural décor, they are obviously out of place. Although Brigham Baker's installation Environs at first makes one think of a dystopian assemblage in which the tires have had their day once and for all, the installation also holds utopian potential. Perhaps a small ecosystem can unfold in this place, which is now gently being illuminated.

That of all things a niche created by our industrial world can become a thriving ecosystem was displayed by a US study conducted in the early 1990s in urban areas of Florida. It found that more than half of the mosquitoes hatch from their larvae in discarded tires. This amount increases proportionally with increasing urbanization. So, let's conduct a thought experiment: if the tires were to stay in this garden for a long time, they might take on an ecological purpose like that of the nearby pond.  Such man-made ponds were characteristic of 18th century landscape gardens. Their aesthetic effect was intended to create a harmonious relationship between man and nature. It was only as time passed that their ecological function was recognized.

Despite their industrial form and materiality, the possibility of creating a valuable habitat is inherent in the hoops. In view of this, it seems all the more sensible to question the separation between man-made and supposedly natural environments.

Environs, 2023, tires, LED

Ishita Chakraborty

Saris in various colours run through the garden, forming a border that is not rigid, but remains soft and mobile. With the installation The Songs of Resistance, Ishita Chakraborty refers to the Sundarbans region, which is located on a delta in eastern India. There, the clothing is also used as a fence, to protect a planted bed from animals, for example.

Ishita Chakraborty grew up in Kolkata and has spent time in the Sundarbans in recent years. In the course of her research, she spoke to many women from the region about the multiple burdens they carry: They take care of household chores, work in the fields and plant new mangroves to protect the land from further erosion. However, the climate is changing and the sea level continues to rise, which is why their livelihoods are visibly dwindling. For financial reasons, their respective partners are forced to work as seasonal workers on construction sites in other, often touristy and fast-growing regions.

The importance of not considering social and ecological separate issues is also expressed in the sound installation A Vessel Full of Hope. The sound comes from so-called handis, pots that are used in rural households to cook or store grain, fish or rice. The sound of the sea, the blowing wind, rumbling boat engines, women talking to each other can be heard. In this polyphonic installation, the voice of Abhra Chanda (School of Oceanographic Studies, Kolkata) can be heard, or that of the artist: in one passage, she reads from the book Ecofeminism by Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva. In it, the German sociologist and the Indian activist and theorist point to the fact that limitless growth results in violence against nature, against women and people of the global South. They write: "An ecofeminist perspective, on the other hand, propagates the need for a new cosmology and a new anthropology that recognizes that life in nature (including humans) is preserved through cooperation and mutual love and care". (Maria Mies und Vandana Shiva, Ökofeminismus. Beiträge zur Praxis und Theorie. Zürich: Rotpunktverlag 1995, p. 13.)

    The Songs of Resistance, 2023, handi, wood, fabric
    A Vessel Full of Hope,
    2023, audio, stereo

    Dorota Gawęda & Eglė Kulbokaitė

    Who or what is being commemorated here with votive offerings? Nature that once was and is being more and more suppressed today? Where is the miraculous emergency rescue that a votive offering commonly celebrates? The pavilion in the garden - affectionately called a dacha by the von Meiss family - combines two historical models: the picturesque English landscape garden and the private weekend house from the Baltic-Slavic culture. Both once promised relaxation as well as refuge in romanticized nature. Here, however, the longing for originality does not remain a nostalgic indulgence in past times; on the contrary, it points to a new future worth living in. The flowers are artificial through and through, do not fade and can be memory, memorial and new beginning at the same time.

    The installation Freestanding Votive Flowers (I-VII) by Dorota Gawęda & Eglė Kulbokaitė is complemented by a video screening and incorporates further aspects of their artistic work. In Mouthless Part II (Retrograde Sequence), which can be seen during a screening in August, the aesthetics of landscape painting come into play - this time as morphing GAN animation, the algorithmic process behind Deep Fakes - with landscapes slowly flowing into each other and constantly changing. Images of transience and transformative power are juxtaposed with man-made and one-dimensional categories of "nature" and "culture".

    Freestanding Votive Flowers (I–VII), 2022, stainless steel, LED-flowers
    Mouthless Part II (Retrograde Sequence),
    2023, video (HD, stereo)

    Lithic Alliance

    A recess opens up before our feet. Our gaze falls onto elongated objects of pottery that were formed from local earth, construed and kilned there. For the latter, field firing was used, a technique that was already used to harden ceramics more than 5 000 years ago. Now the objects display small notches and ornamental patterns on their surface, reminiscent of scales or individual vertebrae, of fossilized plants or even the tip of an arrow. In their ambiguity they remain ambivalent, leaving the question from which time they originate unanswered. This speculative character is captured in the title of the installation.

    With the installation Fossil Fantasies, Lithic Alliance picks up on the themes to which the fluid collective has devoted itself time and again: for example, the consideration that earth is not simply dead matter nor the simple accumulation of geological layers. Rather, it is a reservoir of encounters and energies; a living actor and witness of past and present times. Man has recently taken up the exploration of these temporalities. Thus, the installation itself resembles an archaeological excavation: an example of this is the grid of the roofing, which serves as a means of surveying. The orange roof creates an artificial atmosphere in the pit, symbolic of that filter - the anthropocentric gaze - through which we seek to explore our environment. Accordingly, the influence of humans on the planet is also a central element for Lithic Alliance: the collective also deals with the traces that humans leave on the earth. At the end of the exhibition, the objects will be buried - a condensed message for the future?

    Fossile Fantasien – Zähne von heute beissen ins Ungewisse, 2023, wood, clay, PVC, galvanized iron

    Dunja Herzog

    How often do crafts fall into oblivion and are replaced by new, more efficient variants? Dunja Herzog addresses this question in the installation HUM IV. It is composed of three beehives made of bound straw. During the exhibition, three bee colonies find their nesting holes here. The baskets, which were developed in the European Middle Ages, are not very popular today: the most widespread are wooden boxes, which, with their inserted boards, are designed to extract as much honey as possible, but not to create an adequate dwelling for the insects.

    Dunja Herzog's interest in the activity of beekeeping goes back to a residency in Johannesburg. There, together with the beekeeper Thembalezwe Mntambo and the ceramist Cosmas Ndlovu, the artist made various beehives out of fired clay. In South Africa, not only the handling of resources became an issue in the context of this artistic research, but also their distribution: even three decades after the end of the apartheid, over 70 percent of the land is owned by a white minority.

    The beehives in the garden are expanded by the sound installation HUM, which recalls the buzzing of bees in the exhibition space. The sound was created with brass instruments - a selection of which can be seen in the same room - and in cooperation with various musicians.

    Dunja Herzog wants to grant those objects that now function as sculptures a future use: after the exhibition, the beekeeper Sabine Mühle will continue to use the baskets.

    HUM IV, 2022/2023, raffia, cow dung, clay, rye straw
    HUM, 2022, mit Adey Omotade, Damola Owola de Dion Monti, Gugulethu «Dumama» Duma, Elsa M’bala, Grace Kalima N. / Aliby Mwehu, Jill Richards, Rikki Ililonga; audio, stereo
    Jiggling Brass, 2018-2022, brass

      Thomas Julier

      The observation of animals in their habitat is done from different motives: as a leisurely pleasure for education and recreation or in the context of scientific research. These interests often contradict each other, shape the human gaze and thus influence the coexistence of humans and animals.

      Following this line of thought, Thomas Julier installed wildlife cameras in a nearby biotope dominated by beavers. The once extinct rodent has created species-rich habitats since its reintroduction to Switzerland. The artist observes one of these habitats with cameras. They register movements, record them and store the recordings in the cloud. The images can be viewed via a corresponding QR code that Thomas Julier placed on an enamel sign in the garden. The sign is reminiscent of conventional signposts, place and street signs and functions as an entrance to the virtual world. Once scanned, visitors are taken to a login that gives them access to a database. There they can see snapshots of the wildlife as well as the activities of human visitors and can interact with the footage.

      In Vault on a Cloud, Thomas Julier links a "real" space - the garden in Weiertal - with a virtual one - the data collection and its interface - and thus creates a hybrid space whose dimensions are marked by the simultaneous presence of humans and animals. In the course of the exhibition, the data collection grows into a volume whose plastic qualities he understands as sculpture. In this way, Thomas Julier invites us to revise familiar notions and to reflect on contemporary standards in the definition of those living spaces that we create together with other species.

      Vault on a Cloud, 2023, enamel sign, interface, solar panel, wildlife camera with SIM card

      Hanne Lippard

      Do two people have the same view of a cloud when they stand in the same place? Do they make the same observations, feel the same rain? In her sound installation Locus, Hanne Lippard takes the questions of subjective perception as the starting point of a linguistic game. Rhythmically, the artist's voice circles an intimate situation between two people who meet in one place - a "locus". Two loudspeakers, two positions and one text; once spoken forwards, once backwards. In a unique way, the installation expresses the individual experience of the same moment. How much closeness or even intimacy does it require to get in touch and exchange with a person? Is closeness synonymous with consensus and distance even with dissent? Is the perception of the other point of view sufficient to grasp a multi-layered situation? With these questions, Hanne Lippard refers to the negotiation of "common ground", of shared perspectives, opinions and values.

      Today - some twelve years after the work was conceived - we interpret her questions against the background of the manipulation of reality and the social fragmentation into partial publics in the so-called post-factual age.¹ This way, the ground on which we stand can start shaking (See: Nicola Gess, Halbwahrheiten. Zur Manipulation von Wirklichkeit. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz 2021).

      Locus, 2011, audio, stereo

      Sarah Hablützel & Marko Mijatovic

      How can a space be used as communally and diversely as possible? This question provided Sarah Hablützel & Marko Mijatovic with the impetus for the installative work Shared Space I. Conceived as a "place within a place", it becomes an experimental field for different uses throughout the course of the exhibition. In July, it will serve the local theatre group Um-18 as a stage for their rehearsals and the performance of their new production. In August, it will be activated as part of a workshop with the movement pedagogue Vivien Meyer. These protagonists are not new, but rather have been part of the duo's earlier works.

      The architecture can also become a place of refuge for visitors; they can linger on the benches and seek shelter from the heat. Among other things, these different uses are made clear by the shape of the construction: if you look at it from the front, it is reminiscent of an arch that frames the surroundings; if you look at it from the side, it looks like a house with its elongated windows that might even create a feeling of security.

      With Shared Space I, the duo at once addresses social and ecological issues. The installation consists of recyclable materials and a plug-in system that can easily be assembled and disassembled. This appeals to the idea that an active engagement with the availability of resources and their handling can take place. The design is defined not least by the expertise of those with whom the duo comes into contact. For this project, they sought exchange with architects and structural draughtsmen, among others, as well as with the construction office In Situ.

      Sarah Hablützel & Marko Mijatovic, who usually seek out the respective locations for their film work, have now created their own place. Throughout the course of the exhibition, the work will become the backdrop for various scenarios.

      Shared Space I, 2023, duripanel, wood

      Uriel Orlow

      How much land does a person need to be self-sufficient? This question was already up for debate in the Weiertal after the First World War and takes on new urgency with the changing climate.

      Against the background of the agricultural and settlement policies of the time, the reclamation of unused land and the industrialization of agriculture, the local marshland was drained. In the early 1920s, the architects Robert Rittmeyer and Walter Furrer built the Weiertal settlement. Due to the food shortage at the time, each family was given one Juchart of arable land to provide for itself. This corresponds to the area that a team of oxen can plow in one day. With his installation Juchart 2049, Uriel Orlow updates the concern of self-sufficiency for the near future. To do this, he has marked out in the garden the variably defined area - 33 × 33 meters in the temperate zone - that is necessary today for a plant-based diet, depending on the terrain and climate. The markings he uses have their origins in official surveying. The claim to ownership, which is often only possible for privileged people, thus conveyed contrasts with the common resource of land and food production for the entire world population.

      In the exhibition space, two digital drawings further relate historically and geographically defined land masses to time, work and to each other. When viewed, the question of how resources are handled and distributed inevitably arises.

      Juchart 2049, 2023, reinforced iron, forest marking paper
      Juchart 2049,
      2023, pigment print on paper

      Thi My Lien Nguyen

      There they are, the tables with their sweeping surfaces under the estival trees. They invite you to sit and linger in the warm grass; to exchange, to ask yourself, "What have you eaten today?" In the installation Slices of Love, Thi My Lien Nguyen focuses on the table as a place of communal practice. The focus is primarily on eating together and the consideration that a meal prepared by oneself can be understood as a sign of love and care.

      However, such a place does not set itself up, but goes hand in hand with emotional work. In other words, the kind of work that is deliberately made invisible in a capitalist and fast-paced society - and often rests on the shoulders of females. The artist is now trying to resist this circumstance: Her installation will become a place of rest and reflection on the value of reproductive labor in our society. This is to be made possible, among other things, within the framework of an event in July. During her activation Tea & Slices of Love, the artist invites visitors to the table and serves Vietnamese delicacies, fruit and tea.

      Thi My Lien Nguyen sharpens our eye for everyday and supposedly self-evident things: even the simple peeling and slicing of fruit can be an expression of affection or attention and express feelings that cannot be put into words.

      Slices of Love, 2023, photography, MDF, steel

      Nicolas Buzzi und Harmony

      What is that sound entering our ear here? Nicolas Buzzi and Harmony have constructed an instrument that is activated by wind for the exhibition. A transparent flag was placed on a tripod, which - as soon as it is set in motion - makes the cylindrical bell hanging below it sound. The Wind of Change installation is formally based on aestheticized functionality. The tripod was made of standardized construction elements that are normally used for stages. Now that the elements have been misappropriated, they resemble a spectacle that is amplified by the waving flag and the ringing of the bell.

      In addition to the formal aspects, the unusual material of the flag catches the eye. The polyester film is used in space, air and sea travel and withstands extreme weather conditions. By using this material, the artists deliberately forego a clearly representative symbolism. Without a subject or colour, it becomes a projection surface for various meanings and opens up space for utopian ideas and speculative thoughts. The social and political changes that make utopia possible in the first place occur in a processual way, in that values and norms are continually questioned and ideas that are fit for the future can emerge. The waving of this flag is not soft and quiet, but loud, almost disturbing, due to the solid material. After all, change can also be disconcerting, trigger uncertainties and raise new questions. Thus the "common ground", i.e. the basis for this discussion and negotiation, is always vulnerable, always uncertain. The US theorist Donna Haraway pointed this out in her book Staying with the troubleMaking Kin in the Chtulucene. She suggests staying restless, stepping out of old narratives, traditional thought and behavioral patterns. To have the courage to be unsettled. (See: Donna Haraway, Unruhig bleiben, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 2018. Engl. version: Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Durham: Duke University Press, 2016)

      Wind of Change, 2023, aluminium, mylar, nylon, steel

      Reto Pulfer

      Reto Pulfer combines his artistic work with the work in his garden to create a “Gesamtkunstwerk”, a holistic work of art. Plants and their natural cycles are the basis of his activity - whether as an artist, author, musician, performer or as a gardener.

      For the exhibition, he created an oval ground work in the garden. A bed meanders in it, planted with nettles and goldenrod that he dug up nearby and transplanted. By surrounding the bed with white, artificial-looking gravel, he borrows from the baroque landscape gardens of the 16th century. In this way, Reto Pulfer creates a situation in which the idea of an aesthetically and artificially designed plant meets native wild plants and invasive neophytes; in other words, those plants that are considered weeds, although they are valuable for insects and have a healing effect. The installation Nettle Snake (Earthworm) resembles a habitat that corresponds with Pulfer's ecological science fiction novel Gina, a Zustand Novel. Fantastic creatures between human, plant and animal are the protagonists of a post-apocalyptic world. A magical nettle grove is also part of it. The artist and author imagines haunting moments full of fabulosity, poetry and allusions to our present.

      Reto Pulfer also integrates used textiles, including clothes or bed sheets, into this cosmos, which becomes apparent in the exhibition space. The work Phänologischer Panzkalender (Phenological Plant Calendar) was colored with goldenrod; it shows a calendar roughly oriented according to the flowering of plants.

      Nettle Snake (Earthworm), 2022, wood, metal, plants, string, stones.
      Phenological Plant Calendar, 2023, plant paint, fabric

      Miriam Rutherfoord & Joke Schmidt

      According to the Federal Office for the environment, a large part of the routes along which wild animals move have been disrupted by roads and railways. In today’s Switzerland, less than a third of these routes are intact. To remedy the situation, so-called wildlife passages have been built since the late 1990s, for instance as bridges over motorways, and are intended to reconnect the interrupted routes.

      For their video installation Baummarder, Biber, Dachs,.. (Pine Marten, Beaver, Badger...) Miriam Rutherfoord & Joke Schmidt have filmed various wildlife passages. In the calm, documentary-style recordings, however, not the entire structures become visible, but rather individual elements of them. In the process, bizarre scenarios come to light. Piled branches have been strategically placed to direct animals to the passages; bushes have been planted and ponds created to restore the ecological infrastructure that was once destroyed. Sound plays an important role here: the sound of moving cars can be heard off-screen, accompanying the supposedly idyllic sceneries and challenging our idea of a natural environment.

      Although the artists' video was created for the exhibition in Weiertal, it is not to be understood as a completed project; rather, it is a long-term examination of man's relationship to his immediate surroundings.

      Pine Marten, Beaver, Badger, Squirrel, Brown Hare, Fox, Chamois, Ermine, Polecat, Lynx, Weasel, Roe Deer, Red Deer, Water Shrew, Wild Boar, 2023, video (HD, stereo)

      Raul Walch

      The flying of a flag is a charged gesture: it can be a political marker of territories and identity-building for communities, but it can also be a banal advertising medium or pure decoration. How do we interpret a group of waving flags in times of social divisions and political polarization? In view of this, questions of participation in public space are extremely topical. Raul Walch uses abstract geometric patterns for the design of his flags and thus offers an open, community-creating reading. He is just as interested in the activist potential inherent in his installation Dressing the Wind, linking it to ecological considerations. The installation consists of lightweight textiles that he has recycled from previous works and integrated into new ones. The forces of nature also play a role: the wind becomes an actor and helps to shape the work, making the flags dance, sometimes in time, sometimes all on their own. 

      Raul Walch's social commitment is also evident in various works within the exhibition space. For the Azimut project, the artist worked with groups of refugees at the Greek border in Idomeni and on the island of Lesbos. On the coast, they collected remnants of tarpaulins and tents and used them to build kites that can serve as warning signals for the coast guard and consequently for the rescue of people on the run. A kinetic mobile made from the material of this collaboration and a series of photographs bear witness to his interest in mechanical principles: never at a standstill, always in motion.

      Dressing the Wind, 2023, acrylic paint, rope, steel, fabric
      Azimut Mobile, 2016-, acrylic paint, aluminum, rope, stone, fabric, PVC
      Azimut, 2016, c-print on aluminum