A comparison between a watch factory and the magnificent landscape of Switzerland leads up to the pressing question: Is all that glitters gold?
|Concept||It was a three-month journey that gave the initial impetus to the development of what I would later call 'InstaPackage'. I had already worked for several years in a more or less traditional way as a painter in a studio, when I was invited in 1989 to come to Switzerland and work for three months in a studio in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a city situated in La Suisse Romande and birthplace of the famous architect Le Corbusier. Lucie Vergriete, deputy of Cultural Affairs of La Chaux-de-Fonds and Denise de Ceuninck, a journaliste, introduced me to a great number of people, ranging from wealthy watchmakers to gallery owners. La C-de-F, as the place is called, appeared to be a rich region with people that are very cultural minded in a broad sense: theatre, film, visual art, music attract a great deal of interest. I intended to continue painting the way I did before, but now in a new and different environment, yet things turned out otherwise.
The invitation to make a tour of a factory for watches changed my artistic career. Much to my surprise Mr. G.'s factory is covered with calendars and posters of tulips and bulb fields. When I ask around, employees tell me in a somewhat embarrassed manner that the director's wife is Dutch and that she had hung these posters. Posing the question whether they like these pictures, I barely get an answer. It eventually becomes clear that they have no choice in this matter, and nobody ever asks them anything about it. It is even more disheartened when I find out that at the end of every year all non-Swiss employees get fired
| and have to leave the country. Many of them are from Italy or Spain. With each New Year they have to apply again for their previous job. Voiceless people working very hard, always afraid that something bad is looming. I decide to make a photo-reportage on this watch factory.
I receive permission to take photographs and Kodachrome slides of every employee of the watch factory and I am able to walk around and communicate with these people for several days. The staff are careful and watch closely upon entering and leaving the building, because of the gold shavings that stick to shoes and clothes. Special doormats and brushes throughout the factory collect even the tiniest gold shavings. The gold bars are hidden in a large safe and are shown to me with great pride.
I compare the watch factory and its 'time is gold' with the magnificent golden environment of the River Doubs, Maison Messieur, la Gorge du Doubs and the like. The Vue des Alpes is especially majestic and I often go there to make sketches. I record my walks on audio and later on combine the slides I made in the factory and slides of the landscape with the recorded walks in an installation.
This three-month journey marks the beginning of a more contextual related form of art in which writing and making installations will become core activities, along with investigating social practices and cultural attitudes.
|Artist in Residence 1|10 - 31|12 1989
||La Chaux-de-Fonds (CH), birthplace of Le Corbusier, Atelier Rue du Bois Noir 17|
|Pictureworks||› The Watchmakers
|Projects||Signs of Life
||› Rompre les Barrières
› Signs of Life