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Artificial idylls: Switzerland’s contribution at the Prague Quadrennial 2019

The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia will be presenting «Artificial Arcadia: measured and adjustable (?) landscapes» as the official Swiss contribution at the Prague Quadrennial 2019 (PQ19). The interactive installation created by the Lausanne-based art studio Fragmentin and Kosmos Architects from Geneva explores the impact of technology on natural landscapes and questions clichés of untouched nature.

Over 800 artists from 79 countries are expected to participate at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space from 6 to 16 June. Held in the Czech capital once every four years, the Prague Quadrennial is regarded as the most important platform in the world for contemporary scenography, performance design and theatre architecture. This year’s 14th edition has been placed under the motto «Imagination, Transformation and Memory».

The centrepiece of Switzerland’s contribution to the Prague Quadrennial 2019 (PQ19) is the installation «Artificial Arcadia: measured and adjustable (?) landscapes», presented by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in the Exhibition of Countries and Regions, the principal event of PQ19.

The project: Visitors modify the installation

In this national contribution, the Lausanne-based art studio Fragmentin and Kosmos Architects from Geneva challenge the widely held image of Swiss nature as being pristine and untouched by technology. Though known for their natural, untampered-with beauty, Switzerland’s contemporary landscapes are in fact dotted with complex man-made constructions, including tunnels through mountains, dams and reservoirs, irrigation systems, snow cannons, avalanche protection and electricity networks. The scenographic landscape of Artificial Arcadia is inspired by such natural scenery replete with elements of Swiss infrastructure, as well as by today’s interwovenness of natural, artificial and digital realms.

As a key design element, Artificial Arcadia uses «Bauprofile», construction poles that appear on Swiss landscapes to announce new buildings. A forest of slow-moving metal poles, topped by a textile roof reminiscent of Swiss mountain landscapes rises and sinks as the viewer walks through them. It is reminiscent of sheets used to cover the Rhône Glacier to prevent it from melting, as well as of changes in levels of ice and snow. «The most important part of the installation are the visitors. We want to raise awareness of the direct impact of each person on nature. The installation is fully interactive: each step a person takes there is recognised by detectors and changes the overall shape of the installation», says Artem Kitaev from KOSMOS Architects. Laura Perrenoud from Fragmentin adds: «We also aim to spotlight global topics such as climate change, as well as the impact of digitalisation on our society».

Supplementing this are performances by Camille Alena that are specifically aligned to the interactive structure designed by Fragmentin & KOSMOS Architects. They will be shown over the ten days of the Quadrennial.


Further Swiss contributions to PQ19

For the Student Exhibition category, Pro Helvetia initiated a creation by students from the Zurich University of the Arts (Faculty of BA Theatre, Stage Design and Theatre Education) entitled «Transplantations. From image space to spatial image». Further Swiss productions are due to be presented in the performance series Formations, at the Site Specific Performance Festival, and at the PQ Studio Festival.

The «Unusual Weather Phenomena Machine», a music machine created by Zurich-based Swiss musician, stage director and stage designer Thom Luz under the inspiration of weather phenomena, will be shown at the exhibition named Fragments. What was originally conceived as a live performance for four musicians has evolved into an installation using audio loops to generate an unpredictable symphony.


Further information, pictures and biographies on KOSMOS and Fragmentin: Presskit

Video «Artificial Arcadia»: https://bit.ly/2Vr4S6Y
Video «Unusual Weather Phenomena Machine»: http://bit.ly/unusualweather


Media information:
Chantal Hirschi, Communications
Tel. +41 44 267 71 65, chirschi@prohelvetia.ch

Press release of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia
21.05.2019