Interview

«After all, you can do almost anything in a day. »

Kunsthoch co-founder Nadine Wietlisbach takes a look at Lucernes art scence, reveals her personal highlights and explains why art is more necessary than ever, especially in these unusual times.

Nadine Wietlisbach has been Director/Curator of the Fotomuseum Winterthur since 2018. In 2008, she was one of the then three co-founders of the “Kunsthoch” in Lucerne. In the meantime, 29 art institutions in and around Lucerne participate in it. For the Journal of Arts, the curator looks back and reveals her personal highlights of this year’s Kunsthoch program.

Kunsthoch started in 2008 with three art spaces that joined forces for a day. Why did it need this thirteen years ago?
We felt like a joint action would show how lively the independent spaces in Lucerne are. And we wanted to show that we had a certain volume next to the classical institutions (laughs).

If you look today at the program of next Saturday 28 August, how do you find the offer that presents itself to you today?
Dense and appealing.

Which five places would you visit and why?
You can do almost everything in one day. I wouldn’t miss: Claudia Kübler and Zora Berweger at Galerie Kriens, because I appreciate both artists and have been following them for a long time. Of course the sic! Elephanthouse, because I am curious about the work of Kay Yoon. Next Maya Rochat at the Kali Gallery. Edith Flückiger at Hilfiker Kunstprojekte, because text works fascinate me. Finally, the exhibition of Miriam Rutherfoord and Joke Schmidt at PTTH:// in the Kunstpavillon – out of nostalgic feelings for this enchanting place and because I’m curious to see how the works of these two artists develop.

Once there were three – today 29 institutions in and around Lucerne are involved.
Has Lucerne become a city of art?

Lucerne is more than just a city of art, it’s also a city of music and theater, a tourist magnet – but I don’t usually find these labels very productive. What is still needed, as everywhere: courage to keep trying new things.

Let’s take a look at Winterthur, where you currently work: The Fotomuseum is showing “How to Win at Photography – Photography as a Game. What does it take to win with – or against – the camera?
Winning is only one possible option – refusing to play by the rules and thus taking your own path is another. The exhibition invites to get to know the connection between game mechanisms, computer games as well as photography via artistic as well as vernacular positions.

Claudia Andujar – The Yanomami’s Struggle for Survival” can be seen from October 23. What can visitors who come to Winterthur expect?
Touching and evocative images by photographer and activist Claudia Andujar – born in 1931 in Neuchâtel – who has accompanied the indigenous Yanomami community in the Amazon in northern Brazil with her camera since the 1970s. Claudia Andujar’s images and political activism have not lost their relevance, especially against the backdrop of current events such as ongoing land clearing by mining and cattle ranching, which threaten the Yanomami’s habitat, or the spread of malaria and COVID-19.

Yanomami in the construction work of the North Perimeter Highway, Bundesstaat Roraima, Brasilien, 1975 Photo © Claudia Andujar

After the abrupt standstill, visits to exhibitions were more popular than ever, there was a real run on mediation offers. What can art contribute in these unusual times?
It shakes us up and stirs us up – at times – it touches and activates, it makes us feel forces: art, or in our case photography, at its best enables a discussion, a shared experience and the possibility to take a different perspective.

Every year, your Plat(t)form format offers a stage for up-and-coming photographic talent. Where does the discipline stand nationally and what trends interest you?
Trends come and go, what interests me are photographers and artists who deal with contemporary issues and deal with them in a conceptually and visually convincing way.

“Situations” – the laboratory for photographic developments and phenomena against the background of digital media – went into its final round last winter. What is the next step in Winterthur’s engagement with the digital image practices of our present?
The examination of the photographic, the networked image, takes place on numerous levels at Fotomuseum Winterthur: We teach image and media competence (https://www.fromprinttopixel.ch/de), present the work of artists such as Eva & Franco Mattes via exhibitions and publications, and offer an insight into screen-based art with the Screen Walks event. As a specialized museum dedicated to the most diverse forms of photography, visual culture, which is strongly influenced by digitality, belongs programmatically online, on-site as well as off-site to us as Fotomuseum Winterthur like mint in tea.

And finally: When do you take photos and how?
Every day for communication purposes and exclusively with my smartphone.

Kunsthoch Luzern 2021
The action day of 29 art institutions in and around Lucerne: this year it will take place on Saturday, 28 August 2021; already for the 13th time. Discover Kunsthoch on one of four free tours with Anja Nora Schulthess and Robyn Muffler (co-editors-in-chief 041), Mathis Pfäffli, Stefan Meier or Amalia Maciuca.
www.kunsthoch-luzern.ch

Director/Curator Fotomuseum Winterthur Nadine Wietlisbach Photo: Anne Morgenstern