Art Safiental, An Outdoor Exhibition In The Swiss Alps

Art Safiental’, currently in its second installment, is the art biennial located in the remote alpine mountain ranges of the Safien Valley, Switzerland. The current exhibition includes 14 pieces of contemporary art that are scattered throughout the Swiss mountains, and runs until October 28, 2018.

The Safien Valley is known for its meadows and mountains, with deep ravines and avalanche passages separating individual farmsteads and woodlands at high altitude. The ‘Art Safiental’ experience is therefore part exhibition, part adventure hike—visitors are given an art hiking map providing the exact location of the large format artworks, which they must find themselves (unless guided by a tour group). The theme for this year’s edition is ‘horizontal-vertical’, which has seen international artists create temporary art pieces that work in tandem with the surrounding scenery.

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Images © Ueli Alder

German artist Bob Gramsma for example, created ‘Egschi Shell’: a floating concrete shell that incredulously weighs 20 tonnes and is still buoyant. The artwork is secured with a long rope to the bottom of the lake and constantly changes location. ‘Himmel III’ (meaning ‘heaven’ in English), is an 11 meter tall curved wooden sculpture, by Swiss-Austrian artist duo Bildstein Glatz. The ramp-like shape catapults the view of visitors from the horizontal to the vertical, standing in stark contrast to the surrounding landscape and giving perceptible meaning to its title. Further artworks are positioned atop mountains, on the edge of rocky cliffs, and other destinations discoverable by foot.

“In this field of tension between mountain and plain, most of the works of this year’s show are repositioning and reinventing the landscape”, explains founder and artistic director Johannes Hedinger. Many local craftspeople and landowners volunteered to help bring the exhibition to life, adding value and cultural meaning to an already authentic and unique experience.

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Images © Thomas Rickenmann

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Images © Ueli Alder

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