Cotting, Monti,Décosterd and Indral (right toleft) bring Climats to the Riponne Museum


The battle currently raging on the location of a new Cantonal Fine Arts Museum in Vaud, which is the subject of a referendum planned for 30 November , may have inspired the exhibition that starts today. In the event, “Eclairages”(Spotlights) points to a solution that could appease those who are vehemently against the museum leaving the center of Lausanne.

In a summer exhibition that runs until 14 September, five artists and two architects use the past of the museum to tease its future. They explored the 8,600 works stocked away in the reserves of a museum too small to display them and came up with a show that is curiously conceptual, but brilliantly effective.

Two of the artists, Arianne Epars and Ilona Ruegg show no art at all. The first, in a sound installation, runs the full inventory of the works that are not seen, because of lack of space. The recording last six hours. The second presents scaffolding and crates borrowed from the famed Planque collection (which includes works by Picasso, Cezanne, Degas, Van Gogh and Klee) that will only become part of the museum’s collection if it moves to Bellerive.

Bachman & Banz use Marcel Duchamp’s reflective masterpiece inspired by a waterfall in Chexbres, (13 kilometers from Lausanne). They have created four different spaces devoted to the theme of intense sexuality that Duchamp explores in Etant Données, the piece that draws crowds to the Philadelphia Art Museum. The reserves of the museum offered up hidden delights to fit the theme.

Robert Ireland is the most mischievous of the lot because he has selected works from celebrated artists not by chronology, nor by theme, but because they are all the same height.

But the main attraction is undoubtedly the experimental work Climats presented by the team of architects, Jean-Gilles Décosterd and Catherine Cotting, assisted by a Swiss Institute of Technology engineer, Max Monti and a post-grad student, Saurabh Indral. Together they have devised a work that defies the frontiers between art, science and ecology. A huge grid of florescent lighting interprets the luminescent variations in the Alps. As you stand talking, the lighting diminishes when clouds, in real time, pass above the mountains. Another room responds to variations in humidity and a third is dedicated to the absorption of pollution by high-tech materials, all important factors of conservation, especially in a museum.

François Marthaler, one of the seven State Cabinet members and the only Green, could hardly contain his enthusiasm. Reminding us that the Zoology and Gem museums housed in the same building also act as the reminders of shifts in climate, there is no doubt, in his eyes, that the Palais de Rumine would make a wonderful Institute on Biodiversity and Climate change when the art museum moves to where the Cabinet believes it should be, down by the lake.

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, was an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London, before moving to Switzerland and becoming an arts journalist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: