There’s a hidden gem at the heart of the Kunsthaus Zürich: a media art collection that is one of the largest in Switzerland. We present ten works that embody the spirit of the new millennium, in a show that will appeal to art enthusiasts, video fans and tech nerds alike.

Robots, mangas and performative piracy


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The thematic focus of the works chosen is on aspects of the digital transformation: Yves Netzhammer’s (b. 1970, Switzerland) ‘Die umgekehrte Rüstung’ (The Reversed Armory, 2002) makes compelling use of the then-novel aesthetic of CGI. In Cao Fei’s (b. 1978, China) ‘Cosplayers’ (2004), young Chinese people in the booming and fast-growing city of Guangzhou dress up in costumes representing their manga and computer game heroes, overlaying virtual worlds and reality. In the large three-channel video installation ‘A Woman under the Influence – to cut a long story short’ (2003) by Tatjana Marušić (b. 1971, Croatia/Switzerland), clips from a TV movie are digitally edited to the point of unrecognizability, and reassembled into an entirely new glitch aesthetic strongly reminiscent of digital image distortion. Another focus is on works that particularly convey the zeitgeist of the new millennium: ‘La Suisse existe’ (2000) by Christoph Büchel (b. 1966, Switzerland) presents Adolf Ogi’s speech marking the new millennium, which the artist has recorded in an act of performative piracy and thus transposed into the context of art. In his address, the President of the Confederation at the time calls on the Swiss population to be courageous and carry on. This blends seamlessly into ‘I love Switzerland’ (2002) by the Swiss video artist duo Com&Com, Marcus Gossolt (b. 1969) and Johannes M. Hedinger (b. 1971), which dramatizes and parodies Swiss national pride using simple digital video technology.

The other artists whose video works appear are Rita McBride (b. 1960, USA), Diana Thater (b. 1962, USA), Susann Walder (1959–2015, CH), Gabriela Gerber / Lukas Bardill (b. 1970 / b. 1968, Switzerland) and Zilla Leutenegger (b. 1968, Switzerland). While preparing the exhibition, Luca Rey and Éléonore Bernard had the opportunity to consult many of the artists on how to display their works correctly and preserve them in the best possible way. Thanks to its variety of presentation formats, the exhibition will appeal to both art enthusiasts and technology fans.

Yves Netzhammer, Die umgekehrte Rüstung, 2002, Single-channel video, colour, sound; acquired as Digital Betacam and DVD; PAL, 4:3, duration: 23‘41“, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2003, © Yves Netzhammer
Lukas Bardill, Gabriela Gerber, Forum, 2000 Single-channel video, colour, sound; acquired as Mini DV and DVD; PAL, 4:3, duration: 2‘30“, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2004, © 2024, ProLitteris, Zürich*
Diana Thater, Ohne Titel, 2000, Single-channel video, colour, no sound; acquired as DVD, NTSC, 4:3, duration: 19‘30“ Kunsthaus Zürich, 2004, © Diana Thater
Zilla Leutenegger, Mamoru, 2001, Single-channel video, black-and-white, sound; acquired as DVD; PAL, 4:3, duration: 4‘35“, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2003, © Zilla Leutenegger
Susann Walder, 11. Sept. 2002. Keine Autos! gabba gabba, Hey Du! Bisch zwäg? : Die Wohlfühl-Monster-Lynch-Partie, gegen oben treten und gegen unten bücken, 2003, Single-channel video, colour, sound; acquired as DVD; PAL, 4:3, duration: 41‘32“, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2003, © Nachlass Susann Walder
Com&Com, I love Switzerland, 2002, Single-channel video, colour, sound; acquired as DVD; PAL, 4:3, duration: 1‘18“, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2003, © Com&Com

Questions of time in an age of technological change

The 1990s saw the advent of a technological transformation in video art, as digital storage media such as DVDs replaced analogue video cassettes. The works of many artists from this period reflect on globalization and mirror the radical technologization of society. Since the start of the new millennium, creatives have been inspired by products of popular culture such as video games. These are complemented by CGI (computer-generated imagery), hacking and new forms of image distortion such as ‘glitches’, all of which have left their mark on video art. Increasingly, artists working in all disciplines are using digital technologies to produce their works, for installations and multimedia collages. That wider usage has transformed the aesthetic of the artworks, their relationship to space and time and, with it, the sensory experience for the viewer. The discourse has also widened to encompass questions such as: How do we train our perception to cope with the daily deluge of moving images? How do artists react to the shift from analogue to digital? What themes distinguish the new perspectives that have gained access to the global canon since the millennium? What is the relevance of video to the art of the 2000s, and what means of production does it use?

The exhibition, along with the media preservation and art-historical analysis required, has been supported by Memoriav, the Association for the preservation of the audiovisual heritage of Switzerland. The Dr Georg and Josi Guggenheim Foundation is also supporting the exhibition.

Ill.: Rita McBride, Mae West, a proposal for Effnerplatz, Munich, Germany, 2003–2004, Single-channel video, colour, sound; acquired as DVD and CD; PAL, 4:3, duration: 4‘5“, Kunsthaus Zürich, 2004, © 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich*

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