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Museum Rietberg, Zurich

Contemporary Swiss Art at the Museum Rietberg. The 'globalization of culture' on everybody's lips is influencing the reception of art as well as art as a medium of inquiry. Twenty-one Swiss artists enter into a dialogue with works of art from distant lands belonging to the Rietberg collection. Their works - site-specific installations, interventions in the park, performance, theater, and literature - are reflections on faraway times and places.

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Things foreign or unfamiliar unsettle us, it seems. Current discourse is dominated by two themes: art in the public space and mass immigration. Exotic tourist destinations and Buddhas as household décor, by contrast, have become a perfectly ordinary part of modern life. In this show, twenty-one Swiss artists enter into a dialogue with works of art from distant lands belonging to the Rietberg collection. Their works—site-specific installations, interventions in the park, performance, theater, and literature—are reflections on faraway times and places.

The “globalization of culture” on everybody’s lips is influencing the reception of art as well as art as a medium of inquiry. How do we define the difference between local and global in relation to the production and reception of art? How are the paradigms of cultural identity changing? Can alien worlds ever be truly understood?

These questions did not find much of an echo in those ethnographic museums that led the “world art” discourse in the 19th and 20th centuries. And while juxtaposing historical collections with contemporary art is now common practice, the “historically foreign” has received scant attention to date. Yet it is here, more than anywhere else, that a collection’s relevance and legitimacy are most open to challenge.

How do we engage with the cult of the object in museums? What does it mean to exhibit religious art in a secular museum? Do we really understand the criteria underlying artifacts made by people on the other side of the globe 2000 years ago? Can we really appreciate the works preserved in the Museum Rietberg for anything other than their exotic aesthetic?

These questions, which are matters of concern to museums generally, will inform several talks, discussions, and other events to be held during the show, while an international symposium organized in collaboration with the Johann Jacobs Museum will probe the same issues in greater depth.

A new book, Nur das Fremde ist in der Fremde fremd (Only Foreignness is Foreign in Foreign Places) is to be published by the Edition Patrick Frey to coincide with the exhibition. Here, too, each of the twenty- one exhibiting artists will have several pages in which to present his or her work or to contribute in some other way to the dialogue. A text from the historian’s perspective written by a curator at the Museum Rietberg will stand alongside one written by a curator specializing in contemporary art.

The process of critical engagement with the Museum Rietberg and its collection will thus involve artists, art historians, curators, and visitors. And those regular visitors who have long become accustomed to the exotic aspects of the collection will at last find themselves confronted with something alien in the form of contemporary art.

Is the museum’s historical collection of non-European art merely an antiquated presentation of trophies— a kind of civic cabinet of curiosities sustained by a postcolonial mindset? Or is it rather a model for the future and a basis for visualizing contemporary art discourse and placing it in a larger, non-European, but at the same time historical, context?

These are questions of fundamental importance to any public museum, irrespective of its visitor statistics and how it chooses to sell itself. And what do they mean for the future of the museum? Our guests will be looking for answers.

Kindly supported by ART MENTOR FOUNDATION LUCERNE, artEDU Stiftung, Johnan Jacobs Museum, LANDIS & GYR STIFTUNG.

Lukas Bärfuss, Olaf Breuning, Stefan Burger, Fischli/ Weiss, San Keller, Naomi Leshem, Lutz/ Guggisberg, Fabian Marti, Jso Maeder, Yves Netzhammer, Caro Niederer, Pulp Noir, Mai-Thu Perret, Porte Rouge, Peter Regli, David Renggli, Pipilotti Rist, Shirana Shahbazi, Peter Weber, Nives Widauer, Wiedemann/ Mettler

Das Fremde ist nur in der Fremde fremd, edited by Damian Christinger / Museum Rietberg. With essays by Lukas Bärfuss and Peter Weber et al., graphic design by Krispin Heé and Samuel Bänziger, Edition Patrick Frey. Bound, ca. 136 pages, ca. 100 color illustrations, 31 x 23 cm. CHF 48 | € 38. ISBN 978-3- 905929-55-3 (D). Book launch: September 18, 2014
The production of this book was supported by the Herman Maeder-Stiftung in liquidation, the Ernst und Olga Gubler-Hablützel Stiftung, and the Hans-Eggenberger-Stiftung.

Exhibition blog
The exhibition will also make a guest appearance on the “Zollfreilager” blog of the ZHdK where authors, curators, art historians, and artists will have a chance to discuss these and related themes:
ZOLLFREILAGER, an internet magazine of the Platform for Publishing Studies at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), is to go live on July 7.Its reports, reflections, and works in experimental formats will set out to shed light on phenomena relating to art, culture, and migration.The contributors will include students in the ZHdK’s Publishing Studies master’s program together with a network of correspondents, collaborators, and accomplices from all continents and all disciplines.
ZOLLFREILAGER will produce material of its own under its own headings, but at the same time intends to cooperate with selected partners as an “observatory of cultural migration”.The first such project will be “Gastspiel im Gastspiel”,in the course of which the ZOLLFREILAGER will reflect on, and render legible, the encounters between contemporary art and the non-European art in the Rietberg’s own collection both before and during the exhibition Gastspiel – Contemporary Swiss Art at the Museum Rietberg (July 12 – November 9, 2014).

Exhibition Credits

Guest curator
Damian Christinger

Project management
Sushma Banz
Jorrit Britschgi

Exhibition design
Martin Sollberger

Rainer Wolfsberger

Graphic design (exhibition)
Jacqueline Schöb (Management)
Stefanie Beilstein (intern)

Multimedia and website
Masus Meier

Graphic design poster and catalogue
Krispin Heé
Samuel Bänziger

Graphic design (printed matter)
Raffinerie AG für Gestaltung

Marketing & communication
Christine Ginsberg (Manager)
Ursina Wirz (Website / Print Production)
Monica Stocker (Media Planning)
Andrina Sarott (intern)

Art Education
Caroline Spicker (Manager)
Vera Fischer
Christiane Ruzek
Gabriel Studerus

Caroline Delley


Zurich Museums Night
Performance by Porte Rouge with Yumi Mukai
Discussion with Pipilotti Rist and Damian Christinger
Oud–Hang–Trümpy: a musical dialogue with Mahmoud Turkmani, Ali Salvioni, Sandro Friedrich
September 6, 2014

Book launch and readings
Presentation of the book Das Fremde ist nur in der Fremde fremd and readings by Lukas Bärfuss and Peter Weber.
September 18, 2014, 6–9 pm

Symposium in collaboration with the Johann Jacobs Museum
On the theme of “The Contemporary as a Critical Category”
October 10, 2014

Public tours

Free tours (for holders of an admission ticket) in German on Thursdays at 12.15 pm and on Sundays at 11 am.

Ask the guest curator
Guest curator Damian Christinger will be on the spot to provide anyone interested with information at first hand: Saturdays 2–5 pm

Private tours (German, English, French)
Further information and online bookings at

Image: Pipilotti Rist, Maske und Larve (Vater), 2014. Audio Video Installation mit zwei Projektionen, 1 Soundsystem, Holzstämmeskulptur, (3,75m x 2m x 2,3m), Okina Nô-Masken Kopie, farbige Folien als Fensterverdunkelung und Metallhalterungen, Musik: Heinz Rohrer. Courtesy die Künstlerin und Hauser & Wirth, Zürich. Installationsansicht, Museum Rietberg Zürich © Photo: Iren Sarwa

Tel. Direct +41 (0)44 415 31 27

Museum Rietberg Zürich
Gablerstrasse 15 - CH-8002 Zürich
Opening hours:
Tues to Sun 10 am–5 pm | 10 am–8 pm (NEW OPENING TIMES from July 1, 2014: Wed 10 am–8pm/Thurs 10 am–5 pm)
Exhibition: Adults CHF 18 | Concession rate CHF 14
Free admission for young people aged 16 and under

dal 11/7/2014 al 8/11/2014

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