Opening act of the exhibition and performance festival “Alpina Huus” at Le Commun, Geneva

15 December 2017

Yannis Christ, A spoken performance emerged out explorations of mind
during situations you put yourself in while looking for more, 2018
Courtesy the artist


On Saturday December 16thAlpina Huus opens at Le Commun in Geneva, with a performance festival and an exhibition. Initiated in March 2015 at the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin, Alpina Huus is a project by Elise Lammer and Denis Pernet that considers both performance and domestic space. Whether in painting, literature, or philosophy, the house is often used as a metaphor for the human figure, and alludes to the many analogies between the house, and the body and psyche. In a domestic space, each room covers a specific typology, from the living room and kitchen to the bathroom and bedroom, to which human behaviour adapts or resists.

During two festivals, in Geneva in December 2017 and Lausanne in January 2018, 34 Swiss and international artists thread and unthread—sometimes simultaneously—multiple narratives that further explore ideas around community practice, and an understanding of the domestic environment as a stage, where meaningful artistic conversations can and do take place. Among an audience that never knows what is to be considered as staged or not, the difference between a spectacle and the typical course of an art gathering is blurred, pushing the limits of, and sometimes overlapping private and public spheres. The exhibition allows visitors to see the elements created by the artists to establish an idea of domestic space: seats, a bar, audio loud speakers system, a wall painting and several objets that performer used. The boundary between useful objet and sculpture blurs.

A symposium—taking place on January 12th, 2018 at Le Commun, in Geneva– will gather international specialists of exhibition making and performance for a debate. Titled (Re & De) contextualize performance, the guest speakers will reflect on new possible forms and context of presentation for performance art within art institutions and outside.


Selina Grüter and Michèle Graf, A Play of Manners, performance, 2017
Courtesy the artist


Curator Elise Lammer describes Alpina Huus as “an exhibition built after a specific scenography. However, the scenography emerges directly out of the performances, as the same artists performing are the ones ‘designing’ the space. The final touch is then added by the audience who is free to move and re-arrange the space during the first performance festival (kids leave in the afternoon to give space to teenagers, and later on party-goers as the night unfolds). As curators, we occupy the role of facilitators; by creating a dialogue and a research platform for the artists we invite, as well as the audience (accidental or not) who witnesses any of the events. We try to work as horizontally as possible, which is the reason why we attempt to create a semantic connexion to domestic space. The house is a place where objects and behaviours are decided intuitively, yet occupy a very specific function.”

On Saturday, the opening ceremony will give space to Selina Grüter and Michèle Graf’s work, performed daily by two guards before the opening of the exhibition. In Grüter and Graf’s performative practice, the modalities of performance itself come to the fore. Taking as a point of departure dialogue and its associated conflicts, the duo formulates rhythmic systems that intentionally integrate paradoxes. Dissonances are not taken as failures, but rather as spaces of contingency that provoke semantic shifts through the dissolution of its form. Likewise, they are less interested in enacting the potentialities inscribed within the notation, than in finding ways of releasing alternative, unforeseen potentialities. A Play of Manners is a five-minutes-long performance scripted after a drawing of two individuals bowing at each other.


Hanne Lippard, The Future of Memory, Kunsthalle Wien, 2015
Courtesy the artist


Afterwards Hanne Lippard will be reading excerpts from her latest publication, This Embodiment (2017). Lippard’s practice explores the voice as a medium. Her education in graphic design informs how language can be visually powerful; her texts are visual, rhythmic, and performative rather than purely informative, and her work is conveyed through a variety of disciplines, which include short films, sound pieces, installations and performance. Balz Isler follows up presenting Topologies and the measurability of the blur, a new performance in two acts. Isler’s live performances, visual and acoustic fragments are rearranged to form new relations through strategies of blending, repetition, and projection. Using his voice and its related digital persona, Isler communicates personal thoughts about the “world behind the world,” an analogy for the world embedded in digital images. Again, Garret Nelson performs Maxims and Arrows: or How to pH(balance) Poetry: a dialogue in aphorisms performed by three readers, combined with a sculptural piece carved in black marble. This work borrows its title from the opening list of thirty-four maxims in Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols (1889). However, Nelson’s pithy poems were written in Zurich in 2009, after nearly being arrested for driving too fast in Bern, in an art-transport van, which punishment consisted in a couple of days revoked freedom. This arguably meaningless crime, and the feeling of abandonment by Swiss authorities, was the perfect terra firma where to take a humorous, profound, and even philosophically poetic stock of memory, linguistic truth, and human behaviour.


Josep Maynou during a performance
Courtesy the artist


Beside a DJ set on the opening night, Josep Maynou’s project for Alpina Huus includes scenographic elements such as lamps made of found objects, as well as Moroccan rugs created together with a rural Berber community, a performance, somewhere between philosophical stand-up comedy and a deconstructed theatre. The multidisciplinary approach of Josep Maynou comes together under the form of contemporary storytelling, consisting of absurd and humorous sketches which transcend traditional art formats. These often lead to installations in unusual contexts such as TV repair shops, private apartments, abandoned spaces, laundromats, or second-hand stores. Instead, Colin Raynal uses everyday objects and detourned musical instruments to create squeaking sound performances that play on a given context. In his performance he presents the electromagnetic activity of a mobile phone with the help of an electric guitar. The crude music composed by parasitic noises becomes witness to paranormal activities. The collective project Circumstances will share their experience, which produces every day, fragmentary, and surreal stories through joint ad hoc music making. The project deals with the possibilities of a common intuitive language beyond any determined form of musical articulation, and the related experience of a fragile and changing community. Circumstances is influenced by the tradition of intuitive music, and except for the instruments and a given time frame, nothing is premeditated. As a result, the constant flux of sonic artifacts that occur through a particular setting creates an ambiguous musical environment. Behind this project are architect Li Tavor; artist and therapist Martina Buzzi; artist Daniel V. Keller; and musician and sound engineer Nicolas Buzzi. The last part of the night will be lead by Yanling and Asian Eyez, that is to say Natalja Romine and Lhaga Koondhor, the DJ and music production duo Powerhouse, a project initiated in 2012. Best friends both on and off stage, they also work individually across Europe and Asia, crossing boundaries between fashion, music, and art.


Miriam Leonardi, Let’s Get Lost (detail), 2017
Courtesy the artist


Meanwhile the space of Le Commun will be activated by Donatella Bernardi’s two daybeds, which embodies the dichotomy and tension between opposed elements and atmospheres such as day and night, warm and cold; Maud Constantin’s series of patchwork wool blankets will be integrated into the scenography; concurrently Gina Folly intervenes directly in the lighting system of Le Commun, by applying a layer of medical clay on the ceiling neon lights, casting a gentle shadow over the room, the performers, and audience. This gesture mimics a never-ending moment of dawn. Additionally, following her recent exhibition at Studioli in Rome, Folly presents a new series of light bulbs flashing to the rhythm of Kiss Kiss Kiss, a love song by Yoko Ono and John Lennon. Gilles Furtwängler is contributing to Bernardi’s two daybeds and interpreting a new text during a Skype performance in the dark; Miriam Laura Leonardi Let’s Get Lost (two versions) consists of two bedcovers produced for Alpina Huus, on which she stitched in colourful threads two postcards from random places; likewise Renée Levi has proposed to transform one of her paintings into a daybed, shifting the traditional format of the canvas and medium into a physical space one can inhabit. Exploring topics such as the sensorial and cultural potential of certain materials, Sarah Margnetti has produced two velvet bedcovers for Alpina Huus. Titled The Most Tendered Organ, they represent human ears and refer to Jacques Derrida’s definition of the ear as the most “open” and “tendered” part of the human body, suggesting something of the intimacy it represents as one of the orifices leading straight into the human body. Guy Meldem has created a sculpture with a screen and sound system, somewhere between sculpture and structure, the work functions as a system that attempts to receive external and autonomous information, while creating and warping new dialogues—inspired by this quote by Etienne Bossut, “I believe that what truly motivates me and positions me in our era of mass production is to make – myself, by hand, in my studio – objects that are traditionally spit out by machines. Not out of irony or a taste for paradox, but to somehow participate in the party.”


Adrien Missika, [ham-uh k], 2017
Courtesy the artist


Adrien Missika invites the audience to share his eight meters long [ham-uh k] hanging in the exhibition hall, ready to welcome several people at once. In between furniture and a costume, Julie Monot‘s fascination for the figure of the wild man, a hybrid between human and animal, lead her to create a body suit made of hair that fits into the exhibition not only as actor but also as spectator. Her practice ranges across such different forms as performance art, video, photography, or installation. Her research focuses on the boundaries of corporeal exteriority and its modes of representation. Her former career as a makeup artist and experience in the performing arts attract her to the transformative accessory. The costume, the prosthesis, body “furniture,” and objects in connection with praxis, are part of her daily reflection. The mural painted by Niels Trannois  is conceived as a hallway or a lobby, where fragments of thoughts brought from the inside of the domestic sphere flow and merge together into a public sphere. Trannois investigates territories beyond painting to examine their penetration and enrichment of the pictorial act itself. His works are deprived of premeditated schemes in order to be carried by an intuitive movement. The scenographic project of Alvaro Urbano takes its roots in the impossible theaters of Archizoom Associati (1966–1974), the famous design studio from Florence, and is composed of different volumes and elements used to create rhythm. Functioning as a performable and portable stage inside the exhibition space, Urbano’s scenography includes various scenic elements representing the aesthetics of postmodernism, and creates a social arena in which objects are performed during this first edition of the festival at Le Commun. Finally, Melissa Tun Tun has created a welcoming environment and place for restoration, an intimate structure offering food and drink. With Pro Bar, she designs a place for sharing sensory affinities, a space to feed a network of spontaneous and changing relationships.

The ephemera of this opening act will be on view at Le Commun until January 12th.


Julie Monot, Wodwo, 2017
Courtesy the artist


Alpina Huus
Exhibition and performance festival curated by Elise Lammer and Denis Pernet

Le Commun, BAC—Bâtiment d’art contemporain, Genève
Centre d’art scénique, Arsenic, Lausanne
16 December 2017—14 January 2018

Opening Reception and Performance Festival
Le Commun, Geneva: 16–17 December 2017, 4pm–2am

Le Commun, Genève
16 December 2017–12 January 2018
Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday, 12am–6pm
Closed on 24 December 2017 and 31 December 2017

Le Commun, Genève
12 January 2018, 6:30pm–8pm

Closing Reception and Performance Festival
Arsenic, Lausanne
13 January 2018, 5pm–2am

Le Commun | Rue des Bains 34, Genève
Arsenic |  Rue de Genève 57, Lausanne