Just as the hangover is fading from (the celebrations of) the 9th Berlin Biennale, Manifesta 11 begins. We’ve drunk plenty of Debora Delmar Corp.’s cold press juices to supplement our Sean Raspet advised Soylent diet. After taking a much-needed spa day we are off and ready to do laps in Zurich. Packing light we tossed into our suitcase the ubiquitous Gucci Princetown slippers, an umbrella, La Prairie sunscreen (optimistically) and are ready for Manifesta.
Zurich, as everyone knows, is all about the money. Christian Jankowski hit it right on the head when he chose “What People Do For Money,” as the theme this year for Manifesta. Jankowski who excels at making artworks that are accessible was an apparent choice for a biennial eager to reach wider audiences. This Berlin-based artist brings his experience with non-art collaborators into the core of the show: Under the moniker “Joint Ventures” Jankowski picked 30 artists to create artworks (and films about their productions) based on partnerships with different professions.
Jon Rafman transforms a relaxing sensory deprivation pod into an overwhelming video game experience in his collaboration with a wellness spa. For his second (or is it third?) return from retirement, Maurizio Cattelan created a wheelchair glide on lake Zurich whereby a Paralympic World Champion will make miraculous appearances. It is visible from the floating showpiece Pavilion of Reflections which is sponsored by LUMA Foundation and the art impresario Maja Hoffman. Mike Bouchet takes a day’s worth of Zurich’s excrement, around 80,000 kilos, to create a site-specific sculpture at the Migros Museum as part of his partnership with an engineer from the wastewater treatment plant. The installation’s unique fragrance certainly transforms the viewer’s experience.
The University of Zurich is hosting Transactions, the largest parallel event. The exhibition takes a queue from Jankowski but focuses on pairing artists with scientists. These projects mix artistic and scientific experiments getting to the crux of the matter: the relationship between money, power, and knowledge. A true collaboration between the artist Haseeb Ahmed and philosopher Elena Louisa Lange revisits Karl Marx’s notion of the fetish by contrasting kinky toys and fair trade products.
Zurich Contemporary Art Weekend means museum-quality shows, like John Baldessari at Mai 36 Galerie, where the artist is celebrating his 85th birthday and 25th anniversary with the gallery. We also look forward to seeing some shows that take real risks before joining the herds at Zurich train station en route to the "statusphere" of Art Basel next week.
Mai 36, Rämistrasse 37, 8001 Zurich
The opening of Vanessa Billy at the recently renovated BolteLang space continues her investigation into invisible energy and lemons. Presenting her second solo show “all is porous,” she returns to the citrus trope this time focusing on the pitted skin, which resembles our own. We use daily doses of moisturizer to keep our skin looking young. Using the materials of bronze, bio-resin, and food grade silicon as metaphors for the alchemical transformations from matter to energy.
BolteLang, Limmatstrasse 214, 8005 Zurich
This pop-up of the famed Palais de Tokyo museum in Paris hosts a satellite in Zurich for a group show of 19 artists including many who are on our radar, centered on the title theme “Your Memories are our Future.” The exhibition will occupy the space of a former railway maintenance factory.
The post-ironic witty work of New York-based Darren Bader perfectly balances humor and weirdness. His practice is also post-medium, working as artist-as-curator in surreal sculptures, performances, videos, and publications. He cunningly updates Duchamp in a generous self-referential way Life as a Readymade. The smart work of Danish artist Nina Beier has included oversized cocktail glasses filled with blue resin with objects arrested in motion, a waterspout flowing with money, as well as down coats wrapped all around with swirling Hermes ties sandwiched between glass as arrested figures in motion. Her show “Cash for gold” at Kunstverein Hamburg was on our top list for last year.
ACRUSH and Palais de Tokyo, Hohlstrasse 400, 8048 Zurich
Eva Presenhuber is a giant among gallerists, formerly she was a partner of Hauser, Wirth and Presenhuber but has broken away to create one of the most watched programs around. She daringly presents young emerging artists. This weekend she shows four positions of all significant artists: Joe Bradley, Torbjørn Rødland, Mark Handforth, and Walead Beshty. Bradley’s work is instantly recognizable for his brushwork, brevity and incredible clarity. He is one of the few that walks the line between being an artists’ artist as well as a collectors’ artist. Torbjørn Rødland who has a piece in the Berlin Biennale will present new work, and we will be running to see it. Mark Handforth is a darling of the Public Art Fund making some show-stopping outdoor works. Walead Beshty was in the Venice Biennale as one of a selection of artists elevating ceramics.
Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Maag Areal, Zahnradstrasse 21, 8005 Zurich
– Justin Polera