Friday, 12 November 2010

Close My Dress, Thank You

Let’s be honest (we always are, aren’t we?): some art events and places can be intimidating, very even. But others make you feel right at home. Like Villa Langmatt in Baden (Switzerland).  Built by Karl Moser, between 1900 and 1901, Villa Langmatt became the home of the Brown-Sulzer family, known in Switzerland for their impressive art collection.

Renoir, Pierre-Auguste. The Braid. (aka Suzanne Valadon) 1884-1886

Villa Langmatt was first opened to the public as a museum in 1990 and today is Baden’s museum of Impressionism and Lifestyle, hosting a remarkable French Impressionist painting collection of Renoir, Cezanne, and Monet.
To celebrate it’s 20th anniversary, video installation “Close My Dress, Thank You,” (Schliessen Sie mir das Kleid, danke) by Pipilotti Rist, the Swiss video artist and filmmaker, is currently presented in the museum (It is open till 14th of November, so hurry, hurry!).  
Pipilotti Rist, Video Instillation, 2010, Langmatt Museum, Baden image courtesy of Museum Publicity.
 I was just a little bit worried going to this event, the truth is I am not very big on video art. Someone bright said once: “Art is anything you can get away with”, and video art is the easiest way to escape, I suspect. But not if your projector shines on Renoir paintings… 
Pipilotti Rist, Video Instillation in the Gallery of Villa Langmatt, 2010, Langmatt Museum, Baden image courtesy of Like You.
In “Close My Dress, Thank You,” Rist points the visitor’s attention to the servant life that once existed in the mansion. The exhibition’s title does not only relate to the Brown-Sulzer family, as this was a regular luxury for every household in the family’s social class at this era. 

And even if you are not very concerned with the historical socio-economic controversies, it is worth to visit Villa Langmatt before the14th of November.  Artfully hidden cameras project images of simple activities, like gardening or sewing, onto interior objects: a vase, a table, a painting, creating an illusion of human presence, breathing life into a hundred-year-old family picture, making you feel right at home.

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