Newly nestled in its new home at 18 Wooster Street, the Swiss Institute (SI) continues to fulfill its mission of fostering “a way of thinking which asks audiences to break with traditional assumptions about art and national stereotypes,” presenting two inaugural exhibitions this fall. Wednesday, September 14, marked the opening of Books on Books, curated by Christoph Schifferli, and This is Not My Color/ The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by artists Pamela Rosenkrantz and Nikolas Gambaroff.
Christoph Schifferli, a collector of photography and artists’ books, takes books figuratively and literally from the shelf to the frame, inviting viewers to take a closer look at such everyday items. The books are arranged in glass cases, on benches, or fastened whimsically to the wall with binder clips, allowing the viewer to fully peruse the texts. Schifferli’s collection asks the audience to consider books as art objects on multiple levels. The book itself is a physical work of art while also a lens through which to view another artist’s (the book’s subject) work.
Books on Books places the focus on one’s intellect (words, thoughts and memory are the main themes), while This is Not My Color/ The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People shifts perspective to the corporeal. The press release states, “The title of the exhibition suggests two diverging but overlapping artistic approaches: the first, a scientific and chemical analysis of the self and a disavowal; the second, a constructed and systematic operating procedure.” More succinctly, Rosenkrantz and Gambaroffs’ work invokes a multifaceted approach to the human body, drawing attention to its size, commodification, and capacity.
Since its founding in 1986, SI has evolved from an outlet to showcase the work of new Swiss artists to an international cultural center focusing on innovation, sparking a dialogue between Switzerland, Europe and the United States.