Alpine Alchemy: Inside Zurich’s Creative Undercurrent
The new vanguard of experimental artists and cultural provocateurs taking Switzerland’s most orderly city by storm.
It’s no secret that art world cognoscenti flock to Basel, Switzerland’s established “Cultural Capital,” for the summer leg of the blue-chip art circuit, while nightlife revelers opt for the grittier underbellies of Berlin or Paris. But in recent years, both crowds have shifted their attention to another mountainous Swiss city.
Zurich, the country’s slick and tidy finance hub, is best known, in the words of Swiss-Assyrian artist Shamiran Istifan, for “money, banks and cleanliness,” a reputation that has kept many younger and edgier visitors at bay. “It’s not untrue,” continues the 34-year-old creative, “but there’s more soul in Zurich [than it appears].”
The provincial way of thinking led me to leave my comfort zone.
What I do with my body can be a powerful and class-conscious performance of [reality]. I love to observe how people misread [my appearance] and objectify me, but it’s simply a way of exposing Western moral systems.
I suddenly experienced less gatekeeping to institutions that acknowledged the years of work I’d done before.
Life itself is about learning how to flow like water, and how to give life to other people.