Art Safiental

EXHIBITION

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What if? Songs from Tomorrowlands

In the summer of 2024, the voices of thirteen artists will be heard in the Alpine valley of Safiental, located in the Canton of Grisons, Switzerland. Akin to mountaineers calling to each other from mountain tops, the tales of different futures and speculative scenarios will bounce off the peaks and reverberate within the valley, amplifying the visions of these imagined tomorrows. What songs will we hear? And which ones would we like to sing along with?
The Safiental valley was shaped by the Rabiusa River, whose name translates as “raging”, and is now tamed by hydropower. The land, largely cultivated wherever the hillsides are not too steep, is dotted with dispersed settlements. To the north, the valley is bordered by the famous Rhine Gorge, a colossal wound ripped open ten thousand years ago by a landslide. In this landscape, the catastrophic is as palpable as the cultivated. The romantic and the technological meet in unexpected infrastructures.
In the site-specific exhibition What if? Songs from Tomorrowlands, artists react to this territory, looking at the Safiental valley and the Alps as a crucible for human and natural activity. The temporality of the landscape is expanded and connected with other places and times through the resonance of local and global voices, memories, and myths. In this context, “What if?” is more than just a rhetorical question, and songs are not only understood as melodies. They are tools that encourage us to go beyond the familiar and connect to ourselves, all kinds of other living beings, and the environment through new affiliations and identities, shaped by the exchange and transformation of alternative knowledge and stories. “What if” is thus understood as world-making, inviting us to seek collective healing and harmony, driven by the idea that hope is a muscle (Björk) that must constantly be exercised.
What if? Songs from Tomorrowlands refers to a relational point of view: one that listens to the whispers and collective chants from possible futures in a time of multiple choices, crises, opportunities, and catastrophes. Together, we set out to reflect on and act upon the present through the lens of the times to come – by asking ourselves in the future perfect tense (Harald Welzer): “Who do you want to have been? What do you want to have done?” How do we want to be remembered, and how can we become “a good ancestor” (Roman Krznaric)?
The thirteen voices spread across the valley, ricocheting across the meadows, forests, and rocky outcrops, reverberating questions, hopes and fears. This songbook of utopian and dystopian spells is nourished by dreams, imagination, and the speculative worlds of science fiction. In Safiental, the changing mountainous environment encourages us to question our sense of collective belonging and the way we relate to the world around us. Echoing the chorus of this increasingly sticky melody, it prompts us to practice the “What if?”.

Artistic director, curator: Johannes M. Hedinger
Co-Curators: Anne-Laure FranchetteJosiane ImhaslyJoanna Lesnierowska

Works and projects by: Ravi Agarwal & Paulina Lopez (IN, CL) /Paloma Ayala (MX/CH) / Magali Dougoud (CH) / Hemauer/Keller (CH) / Monica Ursina Jaeger (CH) / Vibeke Mascini (NL) / Ernesto Neto (BR) / Ola Maciejewska (PL) / Quarto (BR/SE) / Stefanie Salzmann (CH) / Renae Shadler & Team (AUS/DE) / Andrea Francesco Todisco (CH) / Huhtamaki Wab (JP/UK)

Dates
Exhibition duration: July 6 – October 20, 2024
Opening: July 6/7, 2024 (program online from June)
Finissage: October 20, 2024 (program online from October)
Guided Tours: Dates will be announced in May

The temporary artworks and projects of the 13 art positions are spread across the entire Safien Valley, with a concentration around the four villages of Versam, Tenna, Safien Platz and Thalkirch. The works can be visited free of charge and usually around the clock. A short guide with a map provides the exact locations of the artworks and interesting facts about the exhibition, the individual works, Land and Environmental Art and Safiental. A catalog will be published towards the end of the Biennale.
The Berghotel Alpenblick in Tenna serves as an information center for the exhibition, including an information point, a research exhibition on the biennial (What if? Questions for the future), organized by the ILEA Institute for Land and Environmental, which has its office in the hotel and runs a residency program.

Research projects: ACLA Marcus Maeder / Safientaler Gespräche (Oral History)
Partner projects: Casa d’Angel Lumbrein / Gelbes Haus Flims

> artworks (online from June)
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exhibition guide (online from July)
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Press release (online from May)