In 2012 a Canadian curator based in Basel, Switzerland, Chantal Molleur, contacted me to see if I would like to collaborate on an exhibition of a Swiss artist and Canadian artist. Chantal is a founding member of the organization White Frame, and had asked artist Cathy Busby about Canadian curators interested in collaborating. Cathy put us in touch I suppose because I am French Canadian, like Chantal, for our joint interest in digital media, and the fact that I was Director of the partnership-loving, Halifax-based Centre for Art Tapes at the time. I proposed the exhibition to Dalhousie Art Gallery, who agreed the show would be a good fit for their space.
Chantal had been working with established Lucerne-based artist Edith Flückiger for years, and wanted to present her work in collaboration with a Canadian artist of the same calibre for an exchange between the two countries. Chantal asked me whom I would want to work with and bring into the discussion for this type of duo exhibition, and after researching Edith’s practice, I immediately knew I would love to invite Vancouver-based Germaine Koh to the table with us.
In many ways their practice is so different. Edith works with wall text, experimented with alternative modes of projections, and with ideas of the very ephemeral state of “being”, by using language and anagrams among many other processes. Germaine plays with our sense of interaction, physical habits in interacting with everyday objects, pathways and social behaviour, by creating electronic sculptures that interact with natural phenomenons, focusing on relating our perception of inside versus outside among many other potent elements. Ultimately, one of the reasons I felt mattered in bringing these two artist together in Halifax, NS, was in discussing their process, and language of art making. I had a visual in my mind of Germaine working on a horizontal wide-spanning landscape, while Edith worked on a very internal vertical one.
Peter Dhykuis, Director of Dalhousie Art Gallery likes to say that Halifax is the very centre point between Vancouver and Switzerland, making this particular meeting of the minds a bit serendipitous. We invited everyone to come to Halifax for a short 10 day residency funded by Arts Nova Scotia, which would serve as an introductory meeting for Germaine, Edith, Chantal and I to organize the exhibition in partnership with CFAT and Dal, and to see if Edith and Germaine would find common ground to work through together, for a new work that would be revealed at the show’s premier. They spent a lot of time walking through the city together. The work Tracing Tracks, a mapping game for experiencing different spaces, was started during this residency, and indeed premiered at the 2014 exhibition. The website still exists, ready for participation here: http://tracingtracks.com.
When the show finally presented at Dal in fall of 2014, it came after a couple of years of coordination on behalf of many partners, hours of installation work from Edith and Germaine, but also thanks to the amazing installation crew at CFAT and Dal. We secured funding with PRO HELVETIA in Switzerland and the Swiss consulate in Halifax. It was also nice to get the Spring 2015 cover of Visual Art News a few months later.
The catalogue for the exhibition (im)mobile launched officially May 2nd, 2015, and is now available FREE to download. The catalogue includes installation views, a curatorial essay by Mireille Bourgeois and Chantal Molleur, and a Forward by Peter Dhykuis. Guest writer Jonathan Shaughnessy (Associate Curator Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada) explores the work of Germaine Koh in his essay Germaine Koh: The Art World, Apps, and Everyday Life. Zurich-based Susann Wintsch (publisher, curator, lecturer and art critic) writes about Edith Flückiger’s work in her essay The Magnificence of Life.
This project will be revisited and relaunched featuring new artworks by each artist, and a German-translated catalogue March 5th to May 15th, 2016, at the HAUS FÜR KUNST in URI, Altdorf, Switzerland.