Since autumn 2021, the Bachelor in Fine Arts has been collaborating with the renowned Ursula Hauser Collection. In the NEST, an exhibition space at Toni-Areal, works from the collection are made accessible to the public, as well as analyzed and discussed in ‘ne arts courses. What conclusions can be drawn after the first year?
Measuring roughly 80 m2, the NEST is located on level 7 at the Toni- Areal. Established in 2018 by the Department of Fine Arts, the space hosts thematic group exhibitions with a focus on young, national, international, discourse-relevant positions. In November 2021, the first exhibition organized in cooperation with the Ursula Hauser Collection took place: “Animals We Are Ourselves” presented works by Miriam Cahn, Berlinde De Bruyckere and Roni Horn.
“I met Ursula Hauser on a flight to New York about ten years ago,” says head of programme Raphael Gygax. “This encounter and further conversations established a trusting relationship. The collection was very interested in showing its works outside the classical framework — which marked the beginning of our collaboration.”
Understanding challenges as opportunities
For the last two terms, the exhibition programme has being curated by teaching assistant Elsa Himmer and research associate Gabrielle Schaad. “One challenge is the architecture of the space. The panorama windows and the wide double door only allow showing works on two walls. But at the same time, this is an opportunity to try out unusual concepts,” Schaad says. Himmer adds: “It’s always surprising when works you know digitally are mounted physically in the space. We have fun working together and learn a lot from each other.”
New perspectives on familiar positions
Collaboration provides insights into a private collection that focuses, among other things, on women artists, who have often been overlooked by art history and the art market. On display are positions that confront students with exciting new discoveries or unusual juxtapositions.
For example, the exhibition “Aggregating Matter: Of Dandelions and Architectures” brought into dialogue ceramic works by German artist Beate Kuhn with drawings by ‘ne arts lecturer Marta Riniker-Radich and works by teaching assistant Paulo Wirz. “We have received a lot of positive feedback from students about showing works by faculty and having them enter into dialogue,” says Gabrielle Schaad.
The focus is on the added value created for students. The department’s cooperation with the Ursula Hauser Collection provides access to important positions in art history, which can be explored in an intimate setting in the form of close readings. The main positions explored are not part of the canon and therefore are rarely seen. Students are not only given the opportunity to show their own works. They are also involved in exhibition conception and implementation in fine arts courses such as the modules “Art & Collecting” and “Art & Exhibiting” At the same time, art handling is discussed, which is central to both students’ own artistic practice and working in the exhibition or gallery sector later on.
Drawing conclusions after a year
November marks the first anniversary of the cooperation. The conclusions are positive. “We have already been able to try out various exhibition formats,” says Raphael Gygax. “The collaboration continues to offer great potential, especially with regard to our planned minors in ‘Exhibiting & Making Public’ and ‘Art Handling.’ We are extremely grateful to Ursula Hauser for her commitment to this venture.”