In a small historical museum, tucked in slopes of Gruyères, an amazing story unfolds.

To secure the salt that was to allow the devlopment of the cheese industy in an agricultural netherland, Switzerland traded off its manpower: men were traded off for salt. They were sent as mercenaries to help other empires conquer wealth, when their own cantons were only looking for economic survival.

To bear testimony to this historical trade-off, which contributed to the wealth of what was to become Switzerland several centuries later, Sophie Guyot, a young Swiss artist of extraordinary power and beauty, has built a city in salt.

The visit is as abrupt, as it is telling. Groping through total darkness, dawn suddenly emerges, as if to catapult us through the beginnings of Swiss wealth to today. We are left meandering through the senseless streets of prosperity, but not without remembering that Switzerland has come a very long way in a very, very short time.

Sophie Guyot is an artist who plays with light and who plays with time. Look out for her.

ARCHI-SALE a city in salt

ARCHI-SALE a city in salt

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.

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