Lonely Planet Writer

This art exhibition in the Swiss Alps is designed to surprise hikers

As if the magnificent rolling hills and outstanding views of a bucolic wonderland weren’t enough, now, visitors to the Safien Valley in the Swiss Alps have even more reason to be excited, with the opening of a unique art exhibition that sees installations inspired by nature set in place across the area.

The Swiss-Austrian artist duo Bildstein | Glatz’s Himmel III. Image by Art Safiental

Unveiled as part of the Art Safiental Biennale 2018, the installations will be visible until 21 October, giving locals and tourists alike the chance to explore and interact with a number of unique pieces. For the second time in its inception since 2016, the project saw international artists creating temporary works in dialogue with the landscape and nature. The exhibition is accompanied by an art hiking map, which provides visitors with the exact location of each of the 14 works, as well as interesting facts about the project. The exhibition is free to see, and guided tours are also available, as well as talks and performances. Walks can take from 60 to 90 minutes between pieces, with at least two days being recommended to see everything.

Bob Gramsma’s Egschi Shell was created by filling a mould in the natural lakebed with concrete, which then floated up to the surface. Image by Art Safiental

The theme for this year’s exhibition was Horizontal – Vertical, and many of the artists participating in the exhibition travelled to the valley last year to choose a location for their installations. Pieces include a large blue ramp with a yellow racing stripe, designed to cast the eyes of viewers upwards towards the mountains, a hive of honey bees whose buzzing sounds are broadcast through speakers, a camera obscura inside a traditional stable that projects an upside-down picture of the Alps into the room, and a video installation in an underground tunnel.

Lita Albuquerque’s “Transparent Earth” installation. Image by Art Safiental

Another piece by American artist Lita Albuquerque sees the bright blue figure of a female placed on the summit of the Schüechtli, lying down listening with one ear to the ground. However, this is only one visible part of the artwork, which has a counterpart in a location exactly on the other side of the globe. Off the coast of New Zealand, an identical figure is due to be installed lying on the ocean floor as a partner to the piece in Switzerland.

Ueli Alder’s camera obscura projects the outside landscape into a small stable in the Alps. Image by Art Safiental

“Through the Alps Art Academy and Art Safiental, a wonderful approach was found to bring art into the landscape and thus out of the urban metropolises. Safiental has shown that the worlds of artists and locals are not so far apart and that exciting, sometimes controversial dialogues can arise,” said Safiental Municipality President Thomas Buchli.

More information on Art Safiental Biennale 2018 is available at the official website.