Mike Bouchet’s “The Zurich Load” at Manifesta 11

Words by My Art Guides Editorial Team
April 11, 2016

Bouchet is working with the local sewage plant to create a “monumental” work, entitled The Zurich Load (2016), using the human waste created by the citizens of Zurich, which will sit in one of the largest exhibition spaces in the city, the first floor of the Migros Museum. Weighing 80 tons, the final installation will indeed have a monumental quality to it.

Bouchet and his team are currently fashioning the raw material into large bricks at a rate of 50 per day, a process that can only be done by hand. Which is precisely why making the substance safe to be around was the first challenge.

Bouchet not only had to remove toxins from the waste, but also had to remove water, prevent it from rotting, and control the smell, which I have to say stayed with me for some time. The work can only be shown indoors, and when the exhibition finishes, it will be destroyed.

On considering a work for the city of Zurich, Bouchet was struck by the stereotype often held about the “clean” Swiss. He was drawn to the idea of allowing viewers to get up close and personal with their waste, thus making it more of an approachable subject.

Bouchet likens the process they are using to make The Zurich Load  to the making of frescos, due to the use of cement and lime. He also worked with the conservator to preserve the deep earthy brown color of the material.

Bouchet would not reveal what the final realized work may or may not look like. Viewers will have to head to Manifesta 11 on June 11th to see it for themselves. One can only imagine what happens when a town is confronted with its own shit, but Bouchet hopes it will be a harmonious union.

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