Salon Suisse
Salon Suisse
Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Dorsoduro 810
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La Biennale di Venezia | В«Salon SuisseВ»: ATARAXIA
Koyo Kouoh, portrait 2017. В© Antoine TempГ©.

La Biennale di Venezia

В«Salon SuisseВ»: ATARAXIA

Collateral Event of the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia


ATARAXIA: As a word Ataraxia is equivocal, but never neutral. From the Greek a –
В«notВ» and tarГЎssein В«to disturbВ», twist it further and it spits back apathy.

SalonniГЁre: Koyo Kouoh
Co-Salonniers: Samuel Leuenberger (independent curator), LГ­via PГЎldi (curator),
Rasha Salti (curator, writer and researcher) and farid rakun (researcher and artist)

Location: Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Dorsoduro 810, Vaporetto stop: Zattere


«Salon Suisse» presents ATARAXIA, this year’s talks and events programme running in
parallel with the exhibition at the Pavilion of Switzerland at the 57th International Art
Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Organised by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia in
collaboration with Dakar-based RAW Material Company, the collateral talks programme
offers a platform for exchange on contemporary art and thought in a stimulating atmosphere.
The programme will take place over the course of the opening event and three
subsequent long weekends.

Directed by curator Koyo Kouoh, ATARAXIA aims to understand the paradoxical position
Switzerland occupies within the current economic, political, scientific and cultural landscape
of Europe and further afield, as well as reflect on its (post)colonial narratives. An
important engine and geographical centre of Europe, but outside of the Union, Switzerland’s
position demonstrates the European paradoxes and dissonances of current political
Kouoh states: В«As current political regimes in the West do their best to squeeze social
and cultural production into remission, we must listen to those around us and to those
that neighbour us. We must deploy a politics of care to bridge connections across the
very political, cultural and social disparities that divide us. The programme will investigate
how best to reconcile such feelings of disenchantment with the aim of mobilising these
conditions into generative and spirited forms of response.В»
The discursive framework of ATARAXIA is inspired by Roland Barthes’s collection of essays
В«MythologiesВ» (1957) to consider the mythologisation of В«Switzerland as a country
without problemsВ» and the disparity between the representation and the realities of this
construct. Thought to have the largest concentration of cultural capital in the world, yet
largely side-stepping confrontation on the subject of its imperial histories and complici-
ties, Switzerland is facing increasing political and moral backlash in relation to its statecraft.
Its media representation as a sovereign powerhouse boasts prime living standards
in a В«greenВ» economy; yet its truer image is intrinsically linked to its bordering European
neighbours and their involvement in colonial histories past and present.
The location of Venice further contextualises ATARAXIA. During the biennale, Venice hosts
a maelstrom of capital and collectors with on average 3,000 visitors per day; but it is also
home to a vanishing population of some 55,000 inhabitants. A city caught between ecology
and economy – a city with a double image. In transposing Switzerland in to Venice, the
programme asks: how do we act as parts within a larger whole (bearing in mind a
В«wholeВ» could mean the Biennale just as it could Europe)?
Kouoh’s assertion, and the premise for ATARAXIA, is that how Switzerland and Swiss
cultural institutions reflect on its complex heritage and positionality is key to moving forward
В«Unpacking these В«mythologiesВ» is to stand against this overarching narrative and to
confront their common parlance. What is needed — at the risk of sounding utopian — is a
new set of relations and resonances, understanding that В«theyВ» or В«themВ» smack of
exceptionalism. Only then can we foster a language that is multilingual: a language which
communicates our commonalities along with our differences. A language which reaches
beyond the screen of viral activism to shake us by the shoulders and urges us to stand
shoulder to shoulder.В»
В«We are quick to exclaim words such as compassion and empathy to ratify our political or
social engagements, but all too often the enactment of that gesture forms a proxy
for meaningful action. Recognising that so-called В«neutralityВ» might better diagnose a
certain condition of apathy, ATARAXIA aims to rattle and awaken the dormancy of our
body’s dwindling energies. ATARAXIA is a call to mobilise and to organise around a politics
of care and respect. In this we celebrate the diversity of our collective experiences as
global citizens.В»
The В«Salon SuisseВ» consists of a series of talks and events.
The events are taking place at the Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Venice during the opening
event and over the course of three subsequent long weekends:
Salon Suisse One (opening event): Thursday 11 May;
Salon Suisse Two: Thursday 31 August to Saturday 2 September;
Salon Suisse Three: Thursday 19 October to Saturday 21 October;
Salon Suisse Four: Thursday 23 November to Saturday 25 November.
Each salon will start at 6.30pm. A detailed programme of the В«Salon SuisseВ» events will
be published on:
Collaborating institution: RAW Material Company, Dakar.
LAUFEN Bathrooms AG is partner of the В«Salon SuisseВ» and is contributing to the events
at the Palazzo Trevisan with the intention of participating in and encouraging an international
dialogue in the fields of art and architecture.

Note to editors

Koyo Kouoh
Koyo Kouoh is the founding artistic director of RAW Material Company, a centre for art,
knowledge and society in Dakar, Senegal, and the curator of 1:54 Contemporary African
Art Fair in London and New York. She was recently appointed artistic director of Fabrica
de Sabao, an art & innovation initiative in Luanda, Angola. Kouoh’s theoretical, exhibitionmaking
and production practice has contributed to a paradigm shift in global curatorial
perspectives of recent years. She was the curator of В«Still (the) BarbariansВ», the 37th
EVA International, Ireland’s Biennial in Limerick (2016) and is the initiator of RAW Acadé-
mie, an international study programme for artistic research and curatorial inquiry in Dakar.
She lives and works in Dakar, Luanda and Basel.

Samuel Leuenberger
Samuel Leuenberger is a Basel-born independent curator. He is the founder and director
of SALTS, a space dedicated to exhibit contemporary art in Birsfelden, Switzerland, which
promotes emerging Swiss and international artists. Since 1998 he has worked with
several galleries, institutions and non-profit organisations, amongst others for
Kunsthalle Zurich and Stephen Friedman Gallery. He co-curated Pro Helvetia’s presentation
for the «Collection Cahiers d’Artistes» in 2013 and was associate curator of
В«14 RoomsВ», a joint venture between Fondation Beyeler, Theater Basel and Art Basel in
2014. Since 2016, he is the curator of Art Basel’s Parcours sector and is member of the
Commission of the Kunstkredit Basel-Stadt.

LГ­via PГЎldi
Born in Budapest, LГ­via PГЎldi is the Curator of Visual Arts at В«Project Arts CentreВ» in
Dublin. Previously she was director of «BAC – Baltic Art Center» in Visby between 2012
and 2015 and chief curator of the MЕ±csarnok Kunsthalle in Budapest between 2007 and
2011. She has organised talks, discussions, workshops and numerous exhibitions and
edited several books and exhibition catalogues. PГЎldi was one of the curatorial agents of
dOCUMENTA (13). During 2016 she was member of the OFF-Biennale Budapest curatorial
board. She lives and works in Dublin.

Rasha Salti
Rasha Salti is an independent film and visual arts curator and writer, working and living
between Beirut and Berlin. She has co-curated a number of film programmes including
«The Road to Damascus» (2006–08) and most recently, «Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation
in Arab Cinema from the 1960s until Now» (2010–12) at MoMA in New York.
Salti has collaborated with a number of festivals as a programmer, including the Toronto
International Film Festival (2011–15). She co-curated the 10th edition of the Sharjah
Biennial (2015) and В«Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts from the Exhibition of International
Art for PalestineВ» (Beirut, 1978) at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona
and Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (2016). As a writer, Salti’s articles and essays
have been published in Afterall, The Jerusalem Quarterly Report, Naqd, MERIP, The London
Review of Books, and Third Text.

farid rakun
Trained as an architect, farid rakun currently functions as a researcher and education
coordinator for the artists’ initiative «ruangrupa», a non-profit organisation founded in
2000 that examines contemporary Indonesian urban and cultural issues. Recently he was
appointed to serve as the managing director of Jakarta Biennale.

The Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi in Venice
The second floor of the Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi at Zattere belongs to the Swiss
Confederation and houses the offices of the Swiss Consulate. Initiated by Pro Helvetia,
the В«Salon SuisseВ» is held in the main room of the Palazzo as of 2012.
Palazzo Trevisan degli Ulivi, Dorsoduro 810, is close to Campo S. Agnese. The nearest
vaporetto stops are Zattere and Accademia.

Media relations
Switzerland: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Communication
MarlГЁne Mauris | Communication | Pro Helvetia | T +41 44 267 71 36 |
International: Pickles PR
Caroline Widmer | Pickles PR | M +44 (0) 790 884 8075 |

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