This thin edge
Project and exhibition
December 12th, 2020 – March 20th, 2021.
Photos by Dominik Zietlow
This thin edge is a project that started during the Spring lockdown in Switzerland. The title was inspired by a phrase by renown writer Gloria Anzaldúa and it points to the two seemingly opposite forces that underlie our response to the pandemic as a society: adaptation and resistance. This thin edge starts at this intersection, at this edge between adapting to the current situation and at the same time resisting it by imagining new future worlds and keeping politically active. It is also an experiment on how to develop art projects outside of the traditional exhibition model.
As curators, accustomed to organizing exhibitions and events with many people, the big challenge and opportunity during the pandemic became developing strategies that would allow to keep creating and exhibiting art in a situation as unstable as the one we are currently living. With this in mind, we invited four artists based in different cities to participate in the project and experiment on how to create an exhibition as a collective in a time of physical distance: Maëlle Gross (Swiss, currently living in Lausanne), Katherine Patiño Miranda (Colombian, currently living in New York), Sergio Rojas Chavez (Costa Rican, currently living in Basel) and Dominik Zietlow (Swiss, living in Zurich).
The goal of the project was the creation of four new artworks that responded to aspects of our current situation, which in this particular case centered around two topics: interpersonal affections and interdependence to/with nature. Both topics are addressed by the artworks, while also touching on notions such as exchange, transformation, care and connection. They also question the ideas around public and private space.
The curatorial strategy was based on open discussions about the development of the artworks and the exhibition, and aimed to develop a horizontal collaborative work between curators and artists. As a result of this work dynamics, we decided collectively to use the text “Four Changes” by poet Gary Snyder as the basis of our research. The text, written in 1969, discusses four changes that our society would need to do in order to live a truly sustainable life. For every topic (population, pollution, consumption and transformation) Snyder proposes specific actions to be taken. “Four changes” is considered foundational to the environmental movement and it is as pertinent today as it was half a century ago, since “it was rooted in a mature understanding of the political ecology of power dynamics and disparities in access to resources that were ravaging our planet, its biological and cultural diversity”.
This project has been made possible by the generous support of:
Kanton Zürich Fachstelle Kultur + Stadt Zürich Kultur + Fonds Cantonal d'Art Contemporain DCS Genève