Along the way, Hofmann captured countless images, thus producing a gigantic panorama of the country. Now, his video installation at S AM offers visitors a new way of experiencing Switzerland as a space. This exhibition is a continuation of the research into Switzerland that the museum commenced with its “Schweizweit” show. After the architectural portrait of Switzerland conveyed by that exhibition in 2016/2017, a territorial portrait of Switzerland is now revealed. With this exhibition, S AM is also launching a new mediation programme for children and youths: summer holiday workshops with city tours and hands-on activities.
“Portrait of a Landscape”
July 7, 2017 – September 16, 2018
S AM Swiss Architecture Museum
Steinenberg 7, 4001 Basel
From the 7th of July to the 16th of September 2018, the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum presents the exhibition “Portrait of a Landscape” by artist Pierre- Philippe Hofmann in cooperation with Sion’s Ferme-Asile, Centre artistique et culturel. Pierre-Philippe Hofmann is a visual artist from Brussels with Swiss roots. He has crossed Switzerland along ten axes – from the outermost borders to the geographical centre: Älggi Alp in the canton Obwalden. On his hikes, he regularly took a great many pictures in the form of video stills, thus capturing Switzerland’s altitude differences, climate zones and landscape forms.
NEW VIEW OF SWITZERLAND
Hofmann eventually condensed his approximately 2700 short videos down to a collection of images that, in this exhibition, run on dozens of screens in the form of a large video installation. This enables the visitor to perceive Switzerland in an unfamiliar way. Although “Portrait of a Landscape” shows Switzerland, it also draws attention to changes in the ways in which one makes a landscape accessible (for oneself). What is it actually, that makes a place noteworthy? Here, the ordinary and the banal appear together with the extraordinary and the sublime, such as waterfalls, glaciers and rivers. This results in a different image of Switzerland – one that is more critical, but in turn, one that also reflects the issues of today. Ultimately, it becomes clear that the identity of a country cannot be conclusively defined, but instead keeps shifting.
RESEARCH INTO SWITZERLAND WITH ARTISTIC MEANS
The exhibition “Portrait of a Landscape” represents a continuation of the engagement with Switzerland that the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum commenced with its show “Schweizweit” in 2016/2017. Already then, the idea was to look at Switzerland in its entirety and to comprehend the country’s different regional architecture scenes as characteristic components of a kaleidoscopic whole. “Portrait of a Landscape” continues this research into Switzerland, but this time with artistic means and a focus on landscape.
A TERRITORIAL PORTRAIT OF SWITZERLAND
With his systematic exploration of Switzerland, Pierre-Philippe Hofmann reveals a territorial portrait of Switzerland that is just as surprising as the architectural portrait of Switzerland conveyed earlier by “Schweizweit”. This is because Hoffmann’s filmed survey of Switzerland shows the country in a manner rarely seen before. For instance, his work quite often confirms the reality of well-circulated touristic clichés about the country, while simultaneously questioning them via discoveries that are rather unlikely to appear on postcards. Like “Schweizweit”, “Portrait of a Landscape” also emphatically invites its visitors to reassess fixed expectations regarding Switzerland and to open up to the whole breadth of a reality that includes contradictions, which are often precisely what make it appealing.
S AM Swiss Architecture Museum attaches particular importance to conveying exhibition content by holding events. In connection with the exhibition “Portrait of a Landscape”, the panel discussion “On Land and Landscapes” on the 23rd of August 2018 with Elena Filipovic, Director of Kunsthalle Basel, Pierre-Philippe Hofmann, artist, and Andreas Ruby, Director of the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum, is particularly worth highlighting (S AM, 7 pm, in English). In addition, Prof. Philip Ursprung from ETH Zurich’s Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture is to hold a lecture with the theme “Between the Human and the Non- Human” on the 6th of September 2018 (S AM, 7 pm, in German).
The S AM Swiss Architecture Museum is also expanding its mediation programme: for the first time, it is offering a summer holiday workshop. “Eyes Open – City Explorers on the Move” aims to give children and youths (aged between 8 and 12) an understanding of architecture. In a one-week workshop (9th to 13th of July 2018 or 6th to 10th of August 2018, always from 9 am to 5 pm) they can actively explore their city of Basel during the summer holidays and develop their own perception of their built environment. Like the hiking artist Pierre-Philippe Hofmann, the children and youths pass through the city of Basel along different routes. They discover the known and familiar, but also heighten their senses and their awareness of the strange and unknown. They record their impressions and experiences in photos, in idea books and on T-shirts. All throughout the week, the museum is the base – this is where the city tours are planned and where all the folding, gluing, painting, writing and playing happens… The results of the workshops are then exhibited in the museum during the exhibition “Portrait of a Landscape”. In future, the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum will offer a workshop with hands-on activities and city tours every summer, for those staying home.
SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTIST
Pierre-Philippe Hofmann (b. 1976) is a visual artist from Brussels (Belgium) with roots in Switzerland (Olten). The media he works with are photography and video. He studied at École de Recherche Graphique (Brussels) and Académie des Beaux Arts de Saint-Gilles (Belgium). Since 2002, he has worked as a video cameraman, photographer and project manager for cultural institutions, such as Palais des Beaux-Arts, Kunstenfestivaldesarts and Opéra de la Monnaie (all in Brussels). Since his studies, he has intensively addressed landscapes and the everyday world.