Atelier in the clinic «Südhang»
Exhibition IRIS SIBIRICA
This work was carried out at a rehabilitation clinic for people with alcohol or drug abuse problems. The clinic sees it as a duty to have an artist working on the campus so that patients get the chance to experience art. It offers artists the opportunity to stay and work in the studio there. I spent three months at the clinic as an artist in residence. My stay ended with an exhibition.
As I wanted to do something reflecting the place, the people and the specific institution there, I looked very carefully at my surrounding, taking time to get the feel of the place. I wandered around and discovered the garden. It was winter and I started to experiment with using the dried flowers and leaves of the Iris Sibirica. The long curvy leaves looked like letters, signs or signals.
I like signs and written words and had previously worked with words, so I started to look for verbs that might have a positive meaning for the clinic: verbs meaning to enjoy life or to get ecstatic without drugs; verbs that sounded funny or simply made me smile. I wanted to combine the words with the leaf letter signs. I engraved the verbs onto aluminium plates, which, when mounted together with the leaves, looked like labels in a botanical archive. Also, they reflected the clinical surroundings as aluminium signs are mounted beside every door of the staff offices. Together with the leaves I arranged the words along the walls so that they made up a kind of a poem, creating a thoughtful meditative atmosphere for those walking past.
With Barbara Thüler and Els Marti we made a large suspended sculpture out of long dry plants and cellophane tape in the centre of the room in the basement.
During my stay I offered the patients and staff the opportunity to come and talk and have a piece of quick jewellery made by me. I had done a similar project in the National Museum of Switzerland in Zürich before [Schmunzelschmuck]. It was a wonderful way of getting in touch with the people.
Two years later I had the chance to do a follow-up project, planting a hundred aluminium signs engraved with the same kind of verbs on long stalks in the long Iris field in front of the clinic, reminding of the name shields in a botanical garden.