55th International Art Exhibition - la Biennale di Venezia
01 Jun - 24 Nov 2013
Salon Suisse
«Salon Suisse» 2013 curated by Jörg Scheller
Statement by Jörg Scheller, curator of the Salon Suisse 2013

Welcome to the second edition of the Salon Suisse! My name is Jörg Scheller, I am an art historian, journalist, and musician based in Bern, Switzerland. The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia has asked me to curate this collateral programme of the Swiss participation in the 55th Venice Art Biennale. I have dedicated the Salon Suisse 2013 to the legacy and the afterlife of European Enlightenment in today's global art world. After all, the term “salon” carries with it certain historical overtones. One might ask, however: “Enlightenment”? Isn't that a worn-out concept of the 18th century? Well, many of the problems that the 18th century grappled with have resurfaced and are fiercely contested―for instance the relation between religion and politics, the freedom of speech and critique, or the role of art in science and society. I have invited renowned and emerging international theorists and artists to engage in a discussion on the legacy of Enlightenment from a multi-perspective view. Can we face the challenges of today without the radical optimism, the sharp wit, and the utopian spirit of Enlightenment? How to develop new forms of Enlightenment beyond naive believe in progress and eurocentrism, but also shortsighted multiculturalism and blind faith in the market? And what are the roles of art and culture in this play? Is the art system a “blossom of Enlightenment” (Beat Wyss) or rather the “sunday face of greed” (Peter Sloterdijk)? Having said this, we will discuss – and experience – recent art trends such as “transhuman aesthetics”, “arts based research”, “digital fluxus” and “performance lectures”.  Moreover, I have invited researchers from the field of exhibition history to explore the history of Venice and the Venice Art Biennale. The “Dialectics of Enlightenment” (Horkheimer & Adorno) are perfectly mirrored by La Biennale herself―a large-scale exhibition of contemporary art based on the humanist ideals of Enlightenment, but primarily intended to strengthen the economy of Venice.

Photo by Zsu Szabo

Partner: Laufen Bathrooms AG

Programme of the ​«Salon Suisse» 2013