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Artists in Residence

 Anett Frontzek (born 1965 in Uelzen, lives in Dortmund) was already an artist-in-residence in Switzerland for three months in 2004. The Villa Sträuli offers her the opportunity to continue her research into Swiss characteristics for five and a half months. The feudal mansion, five minutes walk from Winterthur station, is surrounded by a peaceful garden and houses three studio apartments for all types of artists. The Villa Sträuli is a project of the Sulzberg Foundation, which was founded by Doris Sträuli-Kern in 1999. On the occasion of Frontzek's stay until the end of June, Kunstbulletin introduces her in the Gastlabor (host institution) section.

Anett Frontzek - Switzerland is a country of cartographies

Anett Frontzek working with maps produced by the Swiss federal agency for topography in the Villa Sträuli, Winterthur, 2010.

Müller: If you want to believe the media and some political commentators, the friendship between the Swiss and their northern neighbours has been a little strained recently. I hope you were warmly welcomed in spite of this.

Frontzek: Just through the media I found out that the Swiss feel intruded upon by Germans. The reason they come to Switzerland is because of the better salaries, but also because of the work climate in Germany which is currently difficult. Personally I haven't had any bad experiences. I was received very warmly. The art scene is open and internationality is simply part of it.

Müller: You're here as a guest artist for the second time in Switzerland. From your last stay in 2004 in the Stadtmühle, Willisau photographic panoramas of Swiss towns and places evolved. What interests you about Switzerland?

Frontzek: My work always has a very strong reference to place. I go to a different country and try and find something that interests me. During my stay in Willisau I started to collect topographical maps and postcards of Switzerland. I'm expanding this collection and I want to make a piece out of it.

Müller: With your interest in topographical maps, you're in the right place in Switzerland.

Frontzek: When I started collecting, I wasn't aware of how famous these postcards are. I had noticed their unbelievable quality, but only recently have I read about the development of the Dufour map, and about Xaver Imfeld. Xaver Imfeld climbed mountains, drew their panoramas and measured them incessantly. The quality of Swiss maps has continuously developed so that in 1998 the federal agency for topography was given the order in to produce a map of Mount Everest. This map was awarded with numerous prizes.

Müller: In many cases guest artists notice cultural characteristics which people local people don't recognise anymore. Have you noticed anything special?

Frontzek: During my first stay in Willisau I noticed the numerous fountains spread all over the village. The Documenta city Kassel where I'm from has 200,000 inhabitants, but there are only two fountains. One is in front of the old main station and it never worked for the whole 15 years I lived in the city, and the second one was actually a water game in Schlosspark Wilhelmshöhe. Then I came to this little Swiss village with 3500 inhabitants, which had eight fountains in total. They were all working and were looked after and well maintained. I could get tea water for my studio from a fountain. That was unbelievable.

Müller: A residency offers the opportunity to meet other artists, curators, collectors and gallerists. Are you actively networking?

Frontzek: At the moment I'm concentrating on my work. If my work is going well, of course I always visit museums and galleries. But I don't walk around and try desperately to make contacts. In my experience, if I'm really interested in something, contact will often happen by itself.

Müller: You've been a guest in several places already. In Schloss Plüschow, Mecklenburg, in Künstlerhaus Lukas in Ahrenshoop, in Egon Schiele Art Centre in Czech Krumau, and for a few months in Amsterdam. Compared with these, what's your experience of the Swiss residency programmes?

Frontzek: You can hardly compare the different programmes. It depends on how the people that founded the artist-in-residence programmes are maintaining the programmes. There are places that I couldn't recommend. I think it's wonderful in Switzerland that the individual residencies are connected. Two weeks ago there was a meeting of all the artists-in-residence who are in Switzerland at the moment. This offers the opportunity to make contacts. The Villa Sträuli is a very professionally managed house. When you arrive here you are personally met and taken care of, and there's everything you need. You can't take that for granted. The Internet works, you get a museum pass, a pass for the Wintherthur city library, and sometimes it's just about something as personal as a height-adjustable chair. In other residencies I sat on phone books.

Müller: Now all you've got to do is learn how to ski and your cultural exchange is complete.

Frontzek: I'd love to do a snowshoe tour. But not skiing. I'm from the Lüneburger Heide. It's flat there. The first proper mountain I climbed was in 2004. That was the Napf, 1400 metres. When I reached the top I saw an unbelievable mountain panorama and I understood why people climbed mountains. As a child I grew up with water and the sea. We went to the North and Baltic Seas. That might sound banal but it's different when you're at the beach overlooking the sea, or if you're up a mountain overlooking a sea of mountains.

Meet the Artist: Anett Frontzek presents current work, Villa Sträuli, Winterthur, 13th April, 8pm

This interview is published with the support of the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia Moving Words for the Swiss advancement of translation.

Translation: Paul Harper

Deutsche Version


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Ausgabe 4  2010
Autor/in Pablo Müller
Künstler/in Anett Frontzek
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