Swiss Miss: a Gathering
Swiss Miss: A Gathering is an investigation of the sense of separation many people experience when relating with others. What are the social ramifications from feeling emotionally alienated from our fellow beings, how do they affect our society at large and where do these feelings come from? Many of us suffer from an often quite nebulous sense of inadequacy and therefore feel the necessity to hide themselves behind a mask to get a better sense of fitting into the social system. Where does this sense of inadequacy come from?
I have been investigating the theme of psychological defense mechanisms for many years, however, I had never before shown any of my work in Switzerland, the country of my origin. Bringing this work to Zurich, the area where I grew up, was therefore an especially challenging and exciting experience for me. In such a small and homogenous society the pressures to conform are often even more extreme than in more diverse societies. In that sense, as well for me this event became an experience of unveiling: going back home and revealing my own true face - taking a straight look into the eyes of my own demons.
Swiss Miss: A Gathering is a multi layered project:
1: In the weeks leading up to the exhibition the cheerful Swiss Miss walks around the city of Zurich approaching strangers to ask them to write down anonymously a confession of something hidden in their minds which creates a sense of shame or inadequacy.
2: At the opening event of the exhibition the painful transformation from a delightful and proper singing and dancing sweet Maiden to her inner, very erratic and threateningly awkward worm-like being takes place. In form of this inner worm she unveils her own confessions: these sculptures are solidified mirror images of her tubular self erupting with various spontaneous expressions. After the unveiling some of the collected confessions from the people she met leading up to the show are being read aloud. Finally at peace with all her facets Swiss Miss can now transform back to her socially more known appearance.
Video of the Performance at Nicola Von senger Gallery Zurich, Switzerland, 2008
The performance is taking place in a gallery space resembling a luscious pasture with a giant bell tower soaring in its center. In this lovely setting the painful transformation from a delightful and proper singing and dancing Swiss Maiden to her inner, very erratic and threateningly awkward worm-like being takes place. It is in this transformed state that Swiss Miss gives life to all the sculptural pieces through an exhausting process of unveiling. After every character has been revealed; sculptures, reminiscent to reflections of her suppressed spontaneous aspects when everything is out in the open, the worm creature crawls into the tower, calls out a few of the previously collected confessions and rings the bell to announce and celebrate the moment of liberation. At peace now with all her aspects, the worm returns to its shed former skin, devours it and exits the scene to finally reappear dressed again as Swiss Miss, peacefully socialized, to greet the audience.