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Artists in Residence

 The Dr. René und Renia Schlesinger Association, founded in 1980, offers international artists of all disciplines the chance to use the idyllically located ‘Birli' studio building, a spacious farmhouse without studio near the Appenzell village of Wald, for a year or less. Projects are developed and if possible realized at this remote retreat. The studio house should be opened to the public at some point during residencies. Between May and October 2013 eight artists are staying as guests: Aurelio Kopainig (Switzerland), Julia Mensch (Argentina) and the artist group Palatti with Mirya Gerardu (Germany/Netherlands), Betty Ras (Netherlands) and Paul Steenberghe (Netherlands) as well as visiting artists Mako Ishizuka (Japan), Nicolas Novali (Argentina) and Chih Ying (Taiwan).

Aurelio Kopaining, Julia Mensch, Palatti and Guests - with Vleckie and Speckie in Birli

Betty Ras, Musquiqui Chihying, Paul Steenberghe, Nicolas Novali, Aurelio Kopainig, Mako Ishizuka, Julia Mensch (from left to right) with Vleckie and Speckie in front of the studio in Wald, 2013. Photo: Cat Tuong Nguyen

The ‘Birli' project is being organised by Aurelio Kopainig, who lives in Berlin, but grew up in Gais, and who has invited the artists there. The current occasion is the ‘AR-AI 500' anniversary. This year the cantons Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden celebrate 500 years as part of the Swiss federation. In this setting the culture project ‘Ledi - the Travelling Theatre' is taking place. It is a stage built by the architect Ueli Frischknecht, which contains a Sefar bar and a kiosk and offers an abundance of events. Ledi has been on tour since May, and is stopping in Herisau, Appenzell, Urnäsch, Gais, Teufen and Oberegg. The nomadic artists' collective Palatti is presenting a chamber of wonder, the ‘Palatti-Schopf'. This informal network of fine artists who work in different media, research and collect things locally and produce site specific exhibitions. Earlier projects took place in China, Argentina and Kosovo.
For this planned performance, other artists are realising their own projects, for example the installation artist Julia Mensch, who has already been engaged with Appenzell traditions for a few years. This time she is inviting Appenzell ladies on to the travelling stage for coffee and cake in order to reflect on Appenzell women's right to vote, and think about possibilities for change. She interviews people, collects stories, visits places and makes notes of her experiences. This is how the form of her art work which closes the project is being developed. On visiting picturesque Birli in sweltering summer heat, one is welcomed warmly. The vegetable patch which Aurelio Kopainig has started fits in with his long-standing preoccupation with growing processes, changes in handling commercial crops in the new bio-technological age. This place is also a return to the time of his childhood. He is consciously using the agricultural surroundings and isolation in order to spend more time on daily life-sustaining things and, quite often, to take a break from the Internet. Behind the house, two pink piglets (Vleckie and Speckie!) are still happily jumping around. Paul Steenberghe will auction them off four times within this rural situation. The eight new owners have to at any one time find a solution for what to do with the pigs. Through this the artists are trying get into a dialogue with their neighbours on different levels. From these people they also get their milk and eggs for everyday use, and they receive valuable ideas for their current work. The reaction to the artists has been consistently positive, the local population is very interested and friendly. The remote location makes it a bit more difficult to get certain materials, remarks the installation artist Mako Ishizuka. She lives in Paris and goes for long walks through her Appenzell surroundings, trying to find local specialities and similarities to her own background. Also the photographer Betty Ras is often outside, collecting stones and minerals for objects. Meanwhile she bakes bread for everyone, and everyone bakes with her.
Country life stimulates new routines, which also Julia Mensch, who for the first time is living in the countryside, experiences positively. Nicolas Novali, who decorates eggs with drawings, and afterwards allows them to hatch underneath a warming lamp in the attic, is astonished by the hilly landscape, which is very different to the Argentinian pampas. Mirya Gerardu, who wants to include objects from Schlesinger's folk art collection in her work, and who is co-curating the Schopf exhibition, draws attention to the different art audience in Birli. These are not art people who one usually meets at art events, and as such there are other topics being discussed. The artists meet daily for shared meals, (left-overs are for Vleckie und Speckie). Unlike in former projects, they all live in the same house, which by itself leads to an intensive exchange. The Palatti group organises lectures and every once in a while an open house event, which encourages encounters with other artists and guests. Additionally they have visited cultural institutions such as the Zeughaus Teufen, the Grubenmann Museum, the Sitterwerk, and also an Appenzell cheese maker's.

Bis: 22.09.2013

The René and Reina Schlesinger Association studio, Birli/Wald
Palatti artists' group, exhibition, Ledi travelling stage, Kirchenplatz Oberegg, 20.9.-6.10.; Palatti Day with special program, 22.9., from 12 pm.
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 9  2013
Autor/in Madeleine Panchaud de Bottens
Künstler/in Aurelio Kopaining
Künstler/in Julia Mensch
Künstler/in Mako Ishizuka
Künstler/in Nicolas Novali
Künstler/in Palatti
Künstler/in Chih Ying
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