Zimoun - times three!

Three major exhibits, three openings over four days: early February was a busy month for Swiss installation artist Zimoun - as well as for the swissnex staff in New York. Known for his striking sound architecture projects around the world (many of which involve small rotating motors, cardboard, and wood), Zimoun left his studio in Bern to present new and existing works at three locations around New York. Because of the work's strong ties to precision machinery and materials, supporting Zimoun's US exhibits fits well within swissnex's mission of introducing the best of Swiss innovation to audiences around the world. 

By Oliver Haugen

On February 5, a few hours after a snow storm had blanketed Long Island with a foot of snow, I braved frigid temperatures to attend the opening of Zimoun's first exhibit at Stony Brook University's Simons Center. I only caught the last five minutes of a lecture given to a packed audience of undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and to of my colleagues form the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York. The exhibit and cocktail reception were immediately outside the lecture hall.

Curated by Lorraine Walsh, the exhibit featured 175 prepared dc-motors, 150 filler wires, 25 cotton balls, 25 cardboard boxes, and three screens. All were arranged in order to provide the viewer and listener with a soothing hum and wave-like ondulations. And as the wires gently hit the white wall behind them, they create a darkened pattern.

Two days later, I traveled to Flushing in Queens to the repurposed Knockdown Center. Built in 1903 as a factory for the Gleason-Tiebout Glass Company, the Center features high vaulted ceilings, wood beams and a concrete floor -- all of which served as an impressive post-industrial backdrop to the 250 ac-motors, 325 kg of roof laths, and 1.8 km of rope. The hundreds of long wooden laths were suspended from the ceiling and at various intervals lifted off the ground by a half-meter before being dropped suddenly, creating a forrest-in-the-storm-like impression.

Finally on Sunday February 8, the bitforms gallery in Manhattan's Lower East Side, which represents Zimoun in the US, hosted an opening reception for the temporary exhibit of over a dozen of his other works. Though smaller, the pieces featured intricate mechanisms and elegant assembly. Thanks to the support of our colleagues at the Consulate General of Switzerland, the reception featured Swiss white and red wines. The gallery was packed with art-minded New Yorkers and friends of Switzerland alike.

At all three events, Zimoun and his small staff were on hand to greet curious visitors, and always happy to explain the self-taught artist's process. 

The exhibitions at the Simons Center Gallery and at the bitforms gallery are still up and running! Learn more here