Saturday, August 17, 2013

Swiss Institute's A Sunday in the Mountains—Beware!

SPECTRE, beware! Left: Carron's Death Race 2000. Right: Mosset's Toblerones.
A Sunday in the Mountains, at the Swiss Institute (through August 25) puts a subversive spin on the travelogue image of Switzerland as a placid, lake and mountain-filled refuge for peaceniks and billionaires. Curated by Gianni Jetzer, the show puts forth examples of anarchy or menace. They range from the hilariously disturbing video, Je Suis un Bombe by Elodie Pong, showing a panda costumed pole dancer, to Jean Tinguely's video, Study for the End of the World no. 2, documenting an explosion in the Nevada desert meant to simulate nuclear annihilation.

The main gallery is filled with Olivier Mosset's cardboard, life-sized Toblerones, which directly points to the anti-tank Toblerone lines used in WWII, shaped like the chocolate bars. They are reminders that even while remaining neutral, all of Europe was a theater of war that threatened every patch of the continent. Valentin Carron's Death Race 2000 combines whimsy and menace in a delivery tricycle equipped with comical James Bond-style blades on its axles. And Karlheinz Weinberger photographed a Rolling Stones concert in Zurich on April 14, 1967, the first arena-scale concert in the nation, concurrent with the onset of violent riots. Exhibited are works by a total of 15 artists, including bold names Thomas Hirschhorn and Fischli/Weiss.

The show, in the gallery space previously occupied by Deitch Gallery, is also a reminder of the thoughtful curation and installations done by the Swiss Institute—itself a welcome subversive presence, and anything but a chamber of commerce outpost in the contemporary art world.

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