STATEMENT : «Kiosks» (2000)

This « Kunst am Bau Projekt » was intended for the new building for the brain research and molecular-biology research department of the University of Zürich. The work is a « work in progress » made for the entrance hall of this department. This hall is a public space although mostly frequented by students, professors and laboratory technicians. The project is to build eight kiosks within four years, a new kiosk every half year. The kiosk is set up each time in a different location of the entrance hall, which is designed in a specifically neutral and functional way, as the architecture of the whole building. The kiosk is installed in this interior hall like a compact cell, an independent implant in the existing space, like an airport kiosk, train station or hospital kiosk that sell newspapers, cigarettes and candy.

I want to show its’ integrated presence in a building. Whether used or not, it just stands there, present. Thus, this kiosk is important as a mobile object, that stands out from the existing surroundings by its’ handmade, quickly made form. It is in contrast with the top quality architecture, with the top technicity and functionality. With this voluntary contrast, I wanted to propose an outlook towards a different reality. This reality can liberate new or unknown energies. I want to confront the reality of this institution ; biologists, technicians, researchers, with the reality of other researchers in other fields, artists, writers. They too are comitted in their research. They too make researches. The small size of the kiosk is made to receive one spectator so that he can isolate himself and concentrate on the informations given within the kiosk, for one minute, for one hour, or for a whole day long. The kiosk is built with a wooden structure covered by cardboard and lit with neon lights. On the top, outside, there is a sign with the name of the artist or the writer. Inside, all the available books of and about the artist or writer and video tapes are displayed to be consulted by the public. The inner walls are covered with photocopies of texts on his or her life, images, writings, and other documentary elements. Everything about the kiosk is made so that the person is plunged into a totally different world. The world of Robert Walser for example. I want the visitor to discover or complete his knowledge about the artists’ work. I want to cut a window towards another existence. The presence of a work of art within this scientific-work world wants to question the fact of beeing commited and engaged with a human activity and with the precarity of this activity. This work in progress project, through its’ rythm of rotations, and by its’ time limited form, is a statement about art commitment in public space. The fact that the project lasts four years, makes it long enough to give awareness and memory and it is not long enough to create habit and lassitude. Too often « Kunst am Bau Projekte » and work in public space create habit and lassitude. I want people to continue without kiosks to be interested in artists and writers. This work is video-documented with interventions of the spectators and users of the kiosks during four years. This documentation will become an important element of the project.

The kiosk project is a comissioned project, resulting from a competition organised by the University of Zürich. It will run from 1999 to 2002. The kiosks are made for : Robert Walser, Otto Freundlich, Ingeborg Bachmann, Emmanuel Bove, Meret Oppenheim, Fernand Léger, Emil Nolde and Ljobov Popova.

T.H. February 2000