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Zurich Art Week Will Be All About A.I., With Tech-Centered Art Shows, Talks, and Events Across the City. Here Are Our Top Picks – artnet News



By now, stopping off at Zurich Art Weekend en route to Art Basel has become an essential art world ritual. Across 73 venues, the city is hosting more than 100 free events, all packed into just one weekend and, this year, there is a special focus on art and tech.

Even in Switzerland, home to the “Crypto Valley,” as the nearby city of Zug has been dubbed, NFT-mania is on the way out. Last year, interest was slowly fading but at this year’s sixth edition of Zurich Art Weekend (June 9-11), there can be no doubt that A.I. is the new acronym on everyone’s lips.

If there is a city that is capable of leading this conversation, it’s surely Zurich. On top of being Switzerland’s financial center with attractive tax relief for residents—and so, naturally, an enclave for high-net-worth collectors—it boasts world-class research labs and a roster of Big Tech companies like Google, Apple and IBM.

Nonetheless, it can still be tricky to successfully bridge the art and tech worlds, with their vastly different customs and cultures. That mission has been at the heart of Zurich Art Weekend’s interdisciplinary programming since its inception in 2018.

“We wanted to start a conversation between artists and scientists,” the event’s founding director Charlotte von Stotzinger told Artnet News. “We thought two years ago with NFTs that the two worlds could merge, but now we are seeing that the split is still there. The art world hasn’t changed much from a structural point of view. The old patterns are back.”

How best, then, to introduce this uncertain audience to the innovations that the tech world has to offer? Zurich Art Weekend has concocted a compelling mix of impressive, large-scale exhibitions and more intimate panels that draw from the city’s wide pool of expertise. “We try to transform the whole of Zurich into a platform for exchange, not only between the speakers on stage but to also trigger new ideas and debates among the public,” said von Stotzinger.

Here’s your guide to what not to miss. 


Liat Grayver & Marcus Nebe, Blue Transmutations (2023) will be part of ETH Zurich’s “Data Alchemy” exhibition from June 9-24, 2023. Photo :© VG-Bildkunst / Liat Grayver.

“Data Alchemy: Observing Patterns From Galileo to Artificial Intelligence”

ETH Zürich 

June 9–24, 2023

“ETH is like the MIT of Europe,” von Stotzingen said. The research university’s impressive A.I. Center has hired a small team of curators to help organize public programming around the new technology’s creative potential.

A.I. is powerful because it can execute fast-paced and efficient pattern recognition, but historically, we have happily relied on the human brain to observe our surroundings and make our own inferences and predictions. This latest exhibition compares the history of cosmology, religion, mysticism and other esoteric belief systems with the present-day enigma of the “black box” machine learning algorithm. Are we circling back towards a less rational, pre-Enlightenment way of understanding the world?

Two special talks organized around the show are taking place at the ETH’s Collegium Helveticum Meridian Saal. These are a conversation between artist Liat Segal and research scientist Jennifer Wadsworth at 8pm on June 8 and another between the artist Rohini Devasher and the historian of science Omar W. Nasim at 3pm on June 11. More details here.

reconFIGURE concept sketch. Image: © Chris Elvis Leisi / Immersive Arts Space.


Immersive Arts Space, ZHdK

June 9–11

The Immersive Arts Space at Zurich’s leading arts university ZHdK is headed up by Christopher Salter, an artist and expert in the field of technology-enabled digitally immersive and mixed-reality experiences. “It’s great luck to have him in Zurich all year round,” von Stotzinger said.

This latest project, still a work-in-progress, is sure to excite and surprise. The idea is to explore how human bodies and experiences can be captured, represented and re-configured thanks to emerging technologies. As visitors enter the exhibition, their body is scanned so that a moving silhouette, or true-to-life avatar, can appear and move independently around the room, even merging with others.

Christopher Kulendran Thomas, The Finesse (2022) in collaboration with Annika Kuhlmann. Photo courtesy of the artist.

“For Real” by Christopher Kulendran Thomas 

Kunsthalle Zürich at 270 Limmatstrasse, 8005, Zürich

Opens June 9 at 6pm

Arriving to Zurich off the back of highly successful solo show at the ICA London, Christopher Kulendran Thomas is gaining attention for a widely varied practice that incorporates A.I. generative tools. For example, in The Finesse, a film exploring the Tamil community’s independence movement and acts of artistic resistance, archival footage is mixed up with A.I.-generated avatars. The exhibition also includes new paintings whose compositions were created by an algorithm that had been trained on a variety of Western and non-Western art historical influences and motifs.

A guided tour and conversation between the artist and the museum’s director Daniel Baumann will take place at 3pm on June 11th. More details here.


“Gold or Lead? The Alchemy of Crypto Art & Its Markets”

UZH Blockchain Center & Art Market Studies

June 8 at 1:15pm

For those who just can’t wait for the weekend’s excitements, the UZH Blockchain Center has planned a whole conference on crypto art to take place on Thursday, June 8. A long list of speakers are taking part in this packed program, including the center’s director Claudio Tessone. The topic is all things NFTs, but ranges from “Crypto Art: Exploitation” to “The Story Told by Data: A Forensics Approach to Crypto Art” and the big panel discussion: “Crypto Art Markets: Gold or Lead?” More details here.

“How technology is impacting power dynamics in the art world”, a panel by Arcual

Schwarzescafé at Luma Westbau, 270 Limmatstrasse, 8005, Zürich

June 9 at 4pm

Arcual, which bills itself as the first blockchain ecosystem built by the art community for the art community, is an official partner of Zurich Art Weekend. Their panel examines if and how emerging technologies are empowering previously marginalized members of the art world ecosystem and how this tech has changed the relationship between artists and their galleries. Moderated by Arcual’s CEO, Bernadine Bröcker Wieder, audiences can hear the perspectives of auctioneer Simon de Pury, art tech expert Nina Roerhs and artist Gretchen Andrew. More details here.

“Machine Imperfections: Error, Noise and Mistakes in the Arts and Sciences of Artificial Intelligence”, panel discussion

Luma Westbau

June 10 at 2pm

Not much has yet been revealed about this mysterious panel, but von Stotzingen is keen to emphasize the distinction of its participants. Christopher Salter, the mind behind the Immersive Arts Space at ZHdK and its concurrent “reconFIGURE” exhibition (see above), will be joined by Sabine Himmelsbach from the Basel’s House of Electronic Arts (HEK)—”she is recognized as one of the leading specialists on art and tech and exhibitions involving digital arts,” said von Stotzingen—and Dr Claudio J. Tessone, notable for founding the local UZH Blockchain Center. More details here.

“Talk with the artist James Bridle and curator Mirjam Varadinis”

Kunsthaus Zürich

June 10 at 2pm

Following a recent expansion, the Kunsthaus is now the biggest museum in Switzerland. This weekend, it welcomes writer and artist James Bridle, a long-time skeptic of technology, surveillance and data who, in 2019, distilled his views into the book “New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future.” To celebrate The Distractor, his new installation in the Kunsthaus Digilab, which looks at the role of algorithms in the attention economy, Bridle will be in conversation with Kunsthaus curator Mirjam Varadinis about different forms of intelligence that might be more beneficial than A.I. More details here.

“The Web3 Art Conference”

NFT Art Day ZRH at Kunsthaus Zürich

June 11 at 1:30pm

Over the weekend, yet another crypto conference is coming to town. NFT ART DAY ZRH is back this year for its second edition. Following a few educational workshops on Saturday, the main event kicks off on Sunday with a robust program of panels on topics like the NFT art market, how Web3 has influenced collecting behaviour, and the the impact of accelerated technologies on art. Additionally, artist IX Shells will be in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist. More details here.

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Ehiko: The Multidisciplinary Artist Shaping Decolonization Through Art



Ehiko, a multidisciplinary artist born in Lagos, Nigeria, now calls Toronto, Ontario, her home. An OCAD University graduate, she has gained recognition for her powerful and evocative works that delve into the complexities of decolonization, health and wellness, spirituality, sexual violence, and the representation of melanated hair.

Ehiko’s artistic journey began in the vibrant city of Lagos, where the rich cultural heritage and traditional artistry influenced her deeply. This foundation blossomed in Toronto, where she continued to experiment and manipulate raw canvas due to its flexibility. Her expressive palette and the use of various textiles pay homage to traditional Nigerian craftsmanship, creating a unique blend of contemporary and ancestral art forms.

Her works are not just visually striking but also laden with profound messages. Ehiko’s exploration of decolonization is evident in her large-scale multi-medium paintings, performances, drawings, and installations. Each piece she creates is a testament to her commitment to unravelling spirituality linked to traditional Afrakan masks, presenting a dialogue between the past and present.

One of the central themes in Ehiko’s work is health and wellness, particularly within the context of the Black community. She addresses the often-overlooked aspects of mental health and the importance of wellness practices rooted in African traditions. Through her art, Ehiko encourages a reconnection with these practices, promoting healing and resilience.

Sexual violence is another critical subject Ehiko tackles with sensitivity and boldness. Her works often depict the pain and trauma associated with such experiences while also highlighting the strength and resilience of survivors. By bringing these issues to the forefront, she fosters conversations that are essential for societal change and healing.

The representation of melanated hair in Ehiko’s art is a celebration of Black identity and beauty. Her pieces challenge societal norms and stereotypes, presenting Black hair in its diverse and natural forms. This representation is not only about aesthetics but also about reclaiming cultural identity and pride.

Ehiko’s exhibitions in Lagos and Toronto have garnered significant attention, and her private collection of purchased work is available upon request. Her contributions to the art world extend beyond her creations; she is also an advocate for using art as a tool for social change and empowerment.

In every piece, Ehiko weaves her experiences, heritage, and vision, creating a tapestry that speaks to the heart and mind. Her work is a powerful reminder of the role of art in decolonization and healing, and her journey continues to inspire and influence the global art community.


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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park



A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”



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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73



Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”


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