Learning from Swiss: how to support promising artists
By Noh Hyun-gi
The Swiss government, known for its successful social welfare system, excels in promoting upcoming visual artists as well. SongEun Art Space is organizing a series of talks with art professionals from Switzerland in conjunction with the exhibition “Reflections from Nature: Collection Cahiers d’Artistes” which opened Friday. At the first talk on Saturday, an independent curator and three artists shared the ways their government fosters the art industry.
The gallery specifically invited Swiss artists who have received support from Pro Helvetia, or Swiss Arts Council, through the program Cahier d’Artistes which translates to artists’ notebooks. Each year, the council chooses promising artists and publishes catalogues from them. Christiane Rekade, a curator at Oslo 10 and a former judge for the Cahier d’Artistes program from 2009 to 2011, explained the process: “A panel of five judges selects seven to eight artists from some 120 applicants every year.” Any visual artist can apply as long as they do not have any solo catalogue. Even non-Swiss nationals can apply as long they are based in Switzerland. “There is no age limit. It is an opportunity for an artist to have a first monographic publication,” she added. Pro Helvetia prints 1,200 copies of the catalogue, and the artists receive 300 for free to distribute. The main criterion is a sense of continuity and identity in the works. “We look for artists who have a strong theme and direction and who will continue to create a distinct body of work”
Chae Young-Ok, Project Manager of Laurence Geoffrey's and Yoo Hyoung-Jung, chief curator at SongEun Arts and Cultural Foundation, brought four artists who have benefited from this program and produce works that closely inspect our relationship with nature ― The Chapuisat Brothers, Luc Aubort, Adrien Missika and Franziska Furter.
Rekade told The Korea Times that Pro Helvetia also offers a residency program in which artists can work in their international offices in Cairo, New Delhi and Johannesburg for up to two years. The agency oversees the representation of Swiss artists at Art Biennale in Venice and Cairo.
“Last year, Pro Helvatia asked independent curator Andrea Thal, from a small artist run space, to curate the Swiss Pavilion at the Art Biennale in Venice. That was very progressive of the Pro Helvatia and shows their commitment to promoting new art professionals.”
On March 24, SongEun Art Space will present a talk by Marc Zehntner, director of the Vitra Design Museum, on management of non- profit museums, followed by a talk on Swiss contemporary design and architecture trends with Ariana Pradal, journalist and curator of Architecture and Design, on April 7.
“Reflection from Nature: Collection Cahier d’Artistes” runs through April 21. Admission is free.