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by Rainer Ganahl

Filale "Gazing Up", 1996

This exhibition struck with its organizational complexity. One of the organizers drew me a kind of a family tree to explain the generational process of this exhibition, placed in a sprawling housing complex. Adjacent to it were some garages and an office space. Different people, including musicians and architects, grouped themselves under three names: "Akkumulator," "Blick Nach Oben. Enge Und Unbegehbarkeit," and "Private Investigations." These different groups were responsible for the curatorial process. Their business didn't just consist of filling their overlapping spaces but to work with the format of the exhibition, itself, by creating an intriguing game of adding and subtracting, mixing and highlighting different works and artists. In a series of "jours fixes" that were mostly linked to special events like performances, parties, clubbings, lectures etc., changes in the exhibition occurred, and the "Filiale" presented itself again to the public, replacing and reanimating the usual "opening."

"Akkumulator" took over two rooms on the first floor of the defunct residential complex. Their principle of operation was to accumulate works. For every "jour fixe," new artists were invited to add new works. At the second "jour fixe" that I visited, Christina Frey added her lehmboden, a layer of mold to be walked on. Given the run-down condition of this space, it "organically" fit and also seemed to reformulate the esthetic interventions of the other artists who had been already in place. Claude Gaon renovated some rooms and some windows, and left behind his working materials. Bruno Christian Anna contributed a minimal double cube-like structure, thus, doubling and representing the architecture of the given two rooms in a minimal format that has its interior filled with an inflated, transparent latex balloon. Ulrich Langenbach left some text and photographs.

"Blick Nach Oben. Enge Und Unbegehbarkeit" translates as "gaze up. narrowness and unwalkability," thereby setting the parameters for this second group of artists. Tim Zulauf showed a claustrophobic video installation as we knew them in the '70s. Remi Hobi did an astonishingly successful piece, consisting of two white minimal cubes that blocked the old entry--i. e., the entire doorway from the ground floor to the second, leaving only a narrow three-inch horizontal opening in the middle of the space between them. Beat Brogle hung conceptual wall paper--that must have been calculated by a wet ware computer good only for circled shapes and minimal music--with infinitesimal alterations towards an inversion of its own pattern. Christoph Buchel had the most surprising and biggest piece, which also fit the principle of their grouping very well. He carried up--and who knows how--a car trailer, reinstalling it in the former living room on the third floor. The piece, which was up for sale in the local newspaper, attracted buyers who frequently came to visit the empty trailer. Peter Altendorf joined the club with a tiny floor installation in a doorway entitled, "The Color of My Car," and consisting of a car spray--some square inches sprayed on the wooden floor--and a photograph of his car.

"Private Investigations" featured Chritz & Chratz with angela multiple diskothek, giving a striking DJ performance in a garage furnished by one row of old tables and other cultural trash now only good for sentimental nostalgic decorations. Themselves, both, real products of the '70s, the couple perfectly remixed them with the help of about 10 record dishes. The only problem was that these DJs mistook their performance for a concert and left an energetic crowd on a warm June night without music after a strong 60-minute performance. This sucked and can't be forgiven since it snobbishly mused upon an activity I still prefer. Thanks to a handsome poster the "Filiale" printed, I learned that this group also presents poetry and lectures.

The "Filiale" project also was equipped with a Dokumentationsstelle, a site where you find information concerning local and international activities. The "Filiale" projects represented the most inspiring activities I encountered over the past summer. It is particularly remarkable to see the initiative and the self-organizational model that these young groups of, more or less, unknown Swiss artists, architects, musicians and intellectuals employ. Producing some interesting site-, and situation-specific works, the "Filiale" stimulated a set of cultural practices in a rather democratic, open and still vigorous manner. Although it is impossible for me to note everyone included in this project, I would like to mention the sisters Claudia and Julia Muller who were among the main organizers of the "Filiale."

It remains only to hope that more of these low-, or no-budget projects may continue to take place in such an inspiring manner. It also shows that it is not necessarily big money, a huge publicity machine or a bunch of ridiculous star curators that make cultural and artistic activities a success, especially, if one remembers the rest of the European mega-events. And who isn't sick of that.

Rainer Ganahl,

New York, New York

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