A 6 x 6m-square of 479 Edelweiss. The Appenzell Biennial presents a site-specific project by Olaf Nicolai on the Ebenalp (elevation: 1,644 meters) in the Appenzellerland. The artist entices us to the Ebenalp with beauty and romance, making use of the language and aesthetics of marketing and advertisements.
The Appenzell Biennial is pleased to present a site-specific project by Olaf Nicolai on 30 June 2012 on the Ebenalp (elevation: 1,644 meters) in the Appenzellerland.
The Edelweiss is a special flower. It stands for bravery and valor, for unspoiled nature, for purity, innocence, and eternal love. For the alpinists, it has always been a symbol of their passion for the mountains and a metaphor for the noble traits that characterize an alpinist. "For the members of the Alpine Club, the Edelweiss is not only the most beautiful blossom of the upper Alps, but also a symbol for the imperishable inner beauty of the noble and good," reads an entry in the Swiss Alpine Club Yearbook from 1891/1892. For the Alpine nation Switzerland, Edelweiss is practically a national symbol. It is no wonder then, that this perennial plant from the aster family adorns the largest of the Swiss coins—the five Franc piece, the Fünfliber.
Last year, Olaf Nicolai, who frequently uses minimal shifts or changes in his works to challenge our perception of reality, had 479 Leontopodium alpinum seedlings planted in a 6 x 6-meter-large square area on the Ebenalp. Now, at the beginning of July, they are starting to blossom and the white square will be visible until autumn. Thanks to Nicolai, the otherwise rare wildflower will now appear en masse and in cultivated formation: a vision of passion made suddenly manifold.
Nicolai entices us to the Ebenalp with beauty and romance, making use of the language and aesthetics of marketing and advertisements: he repeats this symbol of Swissness, the country's cachet and cliché, the national airline logo, which adorns wristwatches and chocolate wrappers alike—and surprises us with the Alpine answer to Malevich: a carefully planted, 6 x 6-meter-large white square.
Olaf Nicolai (b. 1962 in Halle / Saale, Germany) lives in Berlin. His works may currently be seen at Kunsthalle Münster D (until 30 September 2012); at Magazin 4, Bregenz, Austria (until 26 August 2012); and at Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence, Italy (until 4 November 2012). He has had solo exhibitions at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany (2011); kestnergesellschaft Hannover (2010); and Kunstmuseum Thurgau, Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland (2009). He participated in Manifesta 7, Rovereto, Italy; the Venice Biennial, Italy (2001, 2005); and Dokumenta X, Kassel, Germany (1997).
The Appenzell Biennial was founded ten years ago by the artists Emanuel Geisser and Peter Stoffel and curator Christiane Rekade. It has since continued to be involved with various contemporary art projects. Its aim is to explore the tension between the Appenzell landscape and tradition and the large-scale contemporary art event.
Directions to Wasserauen, Ebenalp Cable Car Station
By car via Appenzell–Steinegg–Weissbad.
With public transportation via Gossau or St.Gallen to Wasserauen.
Supported by the Art and Appenzell Foundation, the Office for Culture Appenzell Ausserrhoden, and the Ebenalp Cable Car Company.
Quotation above excerpted from: Mythos Edelweiss. Zur Kulturgeschichte eines alpinen Symbols (The Edelweiss Myth. A Cultural History of an Alpine Symbol.) A Documentation by Tobias Scheidegger, Zurich. Researched and written on behalf of the Botanical Gardens Zurich and Geneva, 2008.
c/o Peter Stoffel
22 rue de berne
Opening: Saturday, 30 June, 4–8pm
Ebenalp cable car station