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Ladina Naegeli on Culture Strike: Art and Museums in an Age of Protest
15 January, 2024
Arriving in front of the Kunsthaus the rain trickles on my head. There is no shelter, not even at the tram next to me. Why wouldn’t they make the entrance more comfortable? I’m sorted into a small group of 6 people, and I suspect some went to the wrong one. Our group is then led by the (impersonated) maintenance team of the Kunsthaus into the old building. Surprised by their lack of numbers we stand before a closed door, where allegedly art is being restored. They showcase how maintenance reaches way further than the rooms but include every art piece. Wouldn’t they need help to sustain this workload? And they do, as we later found out, the small team is supported by external cleaning firms and personnel. Walking to the backside of the new Chipperfield building, we search for a clearing in the bushes. There, beneath us in a pit, we see a small table used by the team for breaks. At least they are leveled with us, by being exposed to the same rain as we are. They seem to be just one of many background actors in the politically loaded theater named Kunsthaus.
After a quick coffee break cut short by the increasing rain, we head inside for a group discussion. Instantly the heated theme of the Bührle-collecHon is the center of our talk.
In her text Laura Raicovich raised a very relevant question: “Should they continue to be grateful for financial largesse that fundamentally supports their work while acknowledging the deep ethical problems using such funds to support cultural endeavors?”
Even though Switzerland is known for neutrality, we can’t escape or ignore our history. As also mentioned in her text, neutrality should not cancel out accountability.