“Keine Zeit – Kunst aus Zürich”

Helmhaus Zurich
Limmatquai 31
December 7–February 11

Susanne Keller, Musicisti, 2015–16, mixed media, dimensions variable.

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!” cried Lewis Carroll’s white rabbit, the absolute archetype of both our present moment and an alternate one—wherein he exemplifies a different, fantastical order. Helmhaus’s exhibition, “Keine Zeit – Kunst aus Zürich” (No Time – Art from Zurich) also moves within such an adventurous dialectic, honoring regional artistic practices, as is traditional in Switzerland.

The results are a breathtakingly beautiful exhibition that includes an installation of cacti by Magda Drozd; powerful towers and arks rendered in watercolors by the eighty-seven-year-old Willi Facen; four fascinating concrete rugs by Noomi Gantert; and the audio installation Poser, 2016, by Susanne Hefti. Also on view are Cécile Huber’s joyful parade of small sculptures; Susanne Keller’s monumental stage set made of cut paper, Musicisti, 2015–2016; Martina Mächler’s audio-installation, 71% (play), 2017; and the precise drawings of Daniel Zimmerman. Meanwhile, Michael Meier and Christoph Franz made concrete blocks using leftovers from Zurich’s Nagelhaus, while Patrizia Vitali’s video performances muse on the passage of time. In the glass vitrines of 7 Stationen (7 Stations), 2017, Klaus Tinkel arranges found materials into absurd landscapes.

Of this creative baker’s dozen, the artist Peter Schweri deserves special mention. The painter, illustrator, photographer, and object artist died in November, 2016, at seventy-seven. On view are early drawings by Schweri, as well as examples of the image-production systems, exemplifying Zurich constructivism, that made it possible for the artist—who had been completely blind since 2002—to work in a controlled, sculptural manner. In his art particularly, the creative potential of the city is revealed to be both clandestine and furious.

Translated from German by Diana Reese.

Max Glauner

Kirstine Roepstorff and Matyáš Chochola

Last Tango
Röntgenstrasse 6
December 8–January 27

Matyáš Chochola, X-Rays, 2017, glass, 24 x 12 x 12".

Upon entering the main exhibition space of Last Tango, one is hit by the pungent smell of fresh asphalt. Most of the floor is covered with sheets of it, and some of the walls are painted matte black. This oppressive and industrial environment is occupied by the strange sculptures of Matyáš Chochola. Consisting of glass, melted asphalt, and various types of found objects, they tend to resemble crystal formations, such as “X-Rays,” 2015–17, or echo Cubist sculptures, as in No Name, 2017. These works are paired with debris of recently obsolete digital technology, including an old ink-jet printer or a CD rack. One piece from the “X-Ray” series appears as if it were an exotic mineral growing from the printer, while No Name, incorporating a minidisc player, is reminiscent of a gravestone. The installation brings to mind a sci-fi cemetery where technology goes to be laid to rest.

Above this macabre landscape hovers a mobile by Kirstine Roepstorff titled Heart of the Whale, 2017. Made of brass and steel wires, its design evokes at once Art Deco and retrofuturism, while its materials recall those of musical instruments. Indeed, the artist refers to “timbre” and “vibration” when discussing this body of work, which in turn speaks to historical precedents, especially Earle Brown’s Calder Piece, 1963–66, in which an Alexander Calder sculpture is used for percussion. Seen from this perspective, her large collages on the walls become scores, and some of them, such as Spherical Music 5, 2012, directly refer to music. In dialogue with the works of Chochola, Roepstorff’s pieces become a visualization of the funereal tunes reverberating through the necropolis of technology.

Yuki Higashino