Lonely Planet Writer

There is a burning ring of fire in Gstaad, Switzerland – here’s why

If you’re travelling to the ski resort of Gstaad in Switzerland and you come across a huge burning ring of fire, don’t fret. The smoking flames aren’t a message from outer space, nor are they anything to do with Johnny Cash. Instead they make up an art installation called As close as you can for as long as it lasts by Morgane Tschiember and Douglas Gordon, which is on display as part of the Elevation 1049 art exhibition.

Gstaad, Switzerland.
Gstaad, Switzerland. Image by Fred PO / CC BY-SA 2.0

Elevation 1049 is a biennial showcase of sculpture, performance, video and sound installations. It runs at the ritzy resort until Sunday 19 March and features an international roster of artists and creatives. Among the highlights on display is Rosa, a sculpture of human impaled in the snow above the Videmanette mountain by Michaël Borremans, and Caterpillar of the Monarch Butterfly, a brightly-painted tram that connects Montreux with Zweisimmen.
Curated by Neville Wakefield and Olympia Scarry from New York City, the works on display at this event aren’t always easily accessible. Some involve long, snowy hikes requiring art lovers to complete a cross-country ski course before they can arrive at a piece of art.

Speaking to Swissinfo about the event, co-curator Neville Wakefield said, “We are thrilled to embark on our next presentation with Elevation 1049 – Avalanche. The curatorial impulse of this winter’s show is born of the unexpected and the shape-shifting interplay between form and formlessness – there is no better place than Gstaad to display these dramatic manoeuvres.”


Taking inspiration from Avalanche Magazine, a post-minimalist, post-studio conceptual journal published between 1970 and 1976, the works on display show different interpretations of land art. Earlier this year, Gstaad prepared 30km of snow-covered tracks for fat bikers as part of their annual Snow Bike Festival.

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