Sculptural objects around the clock
Swatch has a well-earned reputation for supporting art and artists through a broad variety of initiatives in Switzerland and around the world. Support ranges from close collaboration with artists for the design of Swatch Art Special watches to substantial prizes for emerging artists, a major partnership with the world’s leading contemporary art show, la Biennale di Venezia, and the brand’s renowned artist-in- residence program at The Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai. Currently Swatch is engaged in a fascinating collaboration with German artist Tobias Rehberger for “24 Stops Rehberger Weg”, a cross-border project linking Switzerland and Germany along a six-kilometer path from the Fondation Beyeler to the Vitra Design Museum.
For Tobias Rehberger, art is first and foremost what we project onto it. With his jarring works the sculptor has now bridged the gap between Switzerland and Germany – and reinvented the cuckoo clock in the process.
The trail from Riehen to Weil am Rhein is a magnificent one, lined with fields and streams, grapevines and orchards. Then suddenly a trash can appears – one that resembles a combination of pop art and children’s furniture. Or a birdhouse in the shape of an oversized bedside lamp. A bright yellow highchair.
A streetlight that looks like a yellow box balancing atop a green wand. Welcome to Tobias Rehberger’s world. The Frankfurt artist has a soft spot for loud colors, peculiar shapes and persistent absurdity. Many of his pieces resemble eccentrically designed everyday objects: lampshades fashioned out of colored loop-and-hook fasteners, vases made of construction foam, or a piece of tree trunk bearing the portraits of fellow artists. Now, under the headline of “24 Stops – Rehberger-Weg,” the sculptor has designed 24 idiosyncratic path markers for a six-kilometer- long stretch connecting not just Switzerland and Germany, but two institutions, the Beyeler Foundation and Vitra Design Museum. Swatch is supporting the project as Presenting Partner.
“I don’t care whether people see my works as art,” says Rehberger, 49, a native of Esslingen and one of Europe’s most creative sculptors. “For some, they may only serve as path markers, but they may lead others to ponder the possibilities of modern sculpture. We all have the chance to find our own meaning in them,” he explains. Rehberger’s art raises questions, makes people laugh, but also inspires thought: Why are there empty birdcages hanging out there in the landscape? What is an artificial tree doing here among real ones? And who needs a weather forecast when they’re already well on their way?
The artist, who received the Golden Lion award at the 2009 Venice Biennale for his cafeteria design, has long grown accustomed to people mistaking his striking installations for weird design. This raises the question of what exactly makes an object art, a very central topic. “Isn’t every object basically whatever we project onto it?” asks Rehberger, who never ceases to be astounded by what viewers think of his work, but who isn’t bothered one bit when it doesn’t match up at all with his intention. For him, the spaces between an idea, its implementation and interpretations, which vary depending on the viewer’s background, are where creativity comes into play.
Abstract cuckoo clocks are a recurring element in Rehberger’s work. “That’s probably a result of my small-town upbringing,” he says with a smile; not one, but two such timepieces appear on his obstacle course.
At the spot where the Rehberger Trail crosses the German-Swiss border now stands a sculpture: a former toll house with new siding reminiscent of a stack of tree trunks, or perhaps more fittingly, a stack of tree trunks out of an animated film or computer game, smack in the middle of nature. Oddly enough, it looks likes a cuckoo house …
Given Swatch’s penchant for uniting countries and walking through borders of all kinds, it’s just natural they chose to support this project. It’s clearly an example of affinity, a similarity in outlook between the artist and the brand that has always loved art. And to stay true to their wish to always take things with a twist, Swatch will come to life in the most unexpected way along the path…stay tuned!
24 Stops – Rehberger Weg opens Sunday, June 12, 2016 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Members of the public are invited to join international press and media for a Welcome Drink and a talk with the artist, Tobias Rehberger, and Swatch Creative Director Carlo Giordanetti. The event continues with a poolside barbecue at the Naturbad in Riehen.
D-79476 Weil am Rhein
Rsvp@24stops.info by May 20
The next guided tours (in German) and experience walks will be taking place on the following sundays at 2pm.
May 29 from Vitra
July 24 from Fondation Beyeler
August 17 from Vitra
September 18 from Fondation Beyeler
October 16 from Fondation Beyeler
October 30 fromFondation Beyeler
They are for free and take approximately 2 hours. Registration is obligatory.
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W: 24 Stops – Rehberger Weg