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Artists in Residence
Joëlle Flumet - Yoga Frog and «Easy Zen»
Joëlle Flumet creating a Feng Shui well in the Landis & Gyr Studio, Zug.
The Genevan artist Joëlle Flumet (born 1971) is finishing her half-year stay in the Maria Opferung nunnery, Zug with an open studio day and an exhibition in Baar. The studio and apartment were offered to her by the Landis & Gyr Foundation, which was founded in 1971 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Landis & Gyr Ltd. Since 1987 they have run studios in London, and since 2000 also in Zug, in Berlin, and as a special initiative for eastern Europe in Bucharest and Budapest. The studio in Zug particularly encourages applications from the primarily French and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland (Romandy and Ticino). From here, Joëlle Flumet has enjoyed being close to Zürich and Basel, before she moves away in the spring for a half-year residency in South Africa.
In Zug, her nearest neighbours in the Landis & Gyr apartment are nuns. Despite this her art isn't particularly holy. For a publication produced by the small, independent Welsh publisher Dasein in 2007 on the subject of comics, she retraced porn scenes using a computer. And also her drawings from the last series Wasteland, which she showed last at the Swiss Art Awards in Basel, are lit shadowlessly like porn films - the seemingly harmless rubber duck in the pool is actually a dildo.
But it's another object from these clinically pure group of drawings that has kept Flümet occupied since the the beginning of her stay in Zug in September. "The starting point for my work is always a specific object which fascinates me at the time. Often they're absurd things that aren't really useful." One of her paintings on aluminium shows a man next to a pool who, instead of patiently balancing one stone on top of another like a true Zen master, builds his stone sculpture with the help of glue. "Easy Zen, so to say", Flumet comments.
In her studio in the nunnery just above Kunsthaus Zug, she mimicked the protagonist of the painting: she fixed stones with transparent adhesive tape and processed photos into silkscreen prints. Other boulders she stuck together with concrete in order to show them perhaps as sculptures one day. Or she bought stones, apparently these are available in shops, and photographed them in their net packaging with the price tag. Maybe this will be a print. And what's going to happen to the imitation stone that contains a toilet air freshener? Anyway, the studio contains a lot of surprises, for example three silver frogs in typical yoga positions enthroned on the table. "I found these on one of my shopping tours. As part of this society, I'm also primarily a consumer." In addition, change is sometimes very welcome: "Five days at a time in this silence is as much as I can take. I have to get out, to Zürich or Basel. But this is the exciting thing about this studio that motivated me to apply to the Landis & Gyr Foundation. From Geneva I didn't often go to Zürich or the rest of German-speaking Switzerland."
On top of this, making contacts in central Switzerland is less complicated than anywhere else. "It's much easier to meet people here than in Geneva or Paris where I was resident in 2005 in the Cité Internationale des Arts," recalls Flumet. From these new contacts, a new opportunity to exhibit arose: in April Flumet's work will be included in a group show in Vaduz. She doesn't hear much from the three other resident artists in Zug, writers from Romania, Lithuania and Hungary, except at the regular meetings organised by the foundation. Just like the three writers, Flumet also uses her flat in the main part of the Maria Opferung nunnery as her work space: "because of the cold in the studio, I had to put my computer in the apartment. It isn't bad to switch between the two workspaces."
Because Flumet isn't paying for the studio or the apartment and receives 2000 Swiss francs a month, she can concentrate entirely on her work. "I was specifically looking for this kind of situation. Before, I worked as an assistant at the Geneva University of Art and Design for over two years, and I couldn't concentrate fully on my art work." After her stay in Zug, Flumet will be going on another residency in South Africa. There the external influences will play a more important role, especially because she will collaborating in a two-week illustration workshop in Cairo. "But before that I will use the peace here to experiment: at the moment I'm trying to make a Feng Shui indoor fountain for the exhibition organised by Landis & Gyr in a gallery in Baar," explains Flumet. This doesn't mean that the artist has lost her sense of pragmatism from being in the meditative nunnery atmosphere: one of the main materials of the installation is cat litter sand.
Open Studio, Maria Opferung Nunnery, Klosterstrasse 2, Zug, 26th January, 10.30 - 14.30
Voici un dessin suisse, 1990 - 2010, Aargauer Kunsthaus, 29th January - 25th April
Les Objets en trop (Objekte des Überschusses), Billing Bild Galerie, Baar, 16th - 24th February
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
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