Outset Professionals

Thomas Hirschhorn‘Robert Walser-Sculpture | A Presence and Production’, 2019

Outset supported Thomas Hirschhorn’s durational project in Biel, The Robert Walser – Sculpture, curated by Kathleen Bühler.

Through this project, Swiss artist Hirschhorn (recipient of the 2018 Swiss Grand Award of Art/Prix Meret Oppenheim) realized a non-exclusive site in public space as a rendezvous for everyone to explore the work of author Robert Walser.

Over three months the artist was constantly present in Biel and supported, initiated and energized diverse rencounters with Robert Walser. It is Thomas Hirschhorn’s first production project in which he was also present in Switzerland – and in its dimensions the largest.

For a period of 12 weeks, from June through September 2019, it transformed the city of Biel’s Bahnhofplatz into a venue for meeting and discovering Robert Walser. Readings, walks, studios, children’s programme, lectures, forum, theatre, library, exhibition, Robert Walser Zentrum “affiliates”, and many other events brought the audience face to face with Robert Walser over 12 weeks on 86 days, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m daily. 

Some 200 of Biel’s inhabitants, associations, institutions, artists, writers, and experts et al. took part. All in all, 36 collaborations have crystallized into contributions to the programme. Thomas Hirschhorn and Kathleen Bühler have been developing these collaborations on site since November 2016, in eight fieldwork operations lasting several days by means of research, exchanges, and intensive work discussions with many people from Biel. The project reaches out to a wide audience in urban space (to the city’s inhabitants, chance passersby as well as people interested in art or art enthusiasts, young and old) and is open to all free of charge. It reflects on themes related to Robert Walser and his work: marginality, artistic failure, and lapsing into silence under the burden of life.

Thomas Hirschhorn’s project substantially expanded former notions of what sculpture is. It brings art into the city itself, onto its streets, and transforms the whole city into a space of reflection and interaction, inviting Biel’s inhabitants to actively participate themselves. 

Thomas Hirschhorn has radically and continually focused on art in public spaces. His previous projects are testimonies to this approach, with his Gramsci Monument (2013, New York), Bataille Monument (2002, Kassel), Deleuze Monument (2000, Avignon), and Spinoza Monument (1999, Amsterdam).