Tell Me What I See, When I Look Into Your Eyes

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Installation view Tell me what I see, when I look into your eyes


Tell me what I see, when I look into your eyes – Livio Baumgartner, Nino Baumgartner, Nicolas Berset, Arienne & Pascale Birchler, Beni Bischof, Stéphane Devidal, Dagmar Heppner, Guillaume Pilet, Elodie Pong, Ana Roldan, Vanessa Safavi, U5, Costa Vece, Pedro Wirz

Curated by Nicola Ruffo & Caroline Lommaert
11th April – 17th May 2014
Opening reception 10th April, 6 – 8 pm

In an increasingly virtual society, the creation of a persona or mask has become the norm. We carefully choose how to portray ourselves and ‘hide’ behind what we find to be the ideal. A physical disguise may be used, but more often than not, the masks we wear are invisible to our onlooker, thereby subconsciously signalling how they should see us. Hiding, deceiving, misleading, joking – wearing a mask can serve many purposes. With Tell me what I see, when I look into your eyes, we are questioning the ‘masking’ that artists engage in, the artwork being the obvious artists’ mask. As Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1929 essay Some Remarks On Folk Art, “Disguise seeks the arsenal of masks within us”, we try to uncover this multitude of personas.
For the first time BolteLang will show such an extensive and varied group of artists. Tell me what I see, when I look into your eyes, will include photography, painting, video, sculptures and installations – thereby creating an environment for discovery. The exhibition display will reflect the arsenal of masks present within each artist, allowing the visitor to reflect upon the myth behind them. The lines between what is real and portrayed are blurred.
The idea of the mask has fascinated artists throughout history. For instance the modernists were drawn to tribal masks because of their unconventional, non-western facial representations. Furthermore, when Surrealist André Breton first saw an indigenous mask, he called it “more surreal than the Surrealists.” This exhibition, however, focuses on contemporary interpretations by Switzerland-based artists. It reunites a number of young positions of the French and German speaking part.

With a mural by Stéphane Devidal as the unifying backdrop, the works will all be presented in the main room of the gallery – a cabinet of curiosities for the visitor to be submersed in, where works of different origin and destination are presented together. Tell me what I see, when I look into your eyes, will show an overview of works, each a reference to the masks we wear.

BolteLang has invited curators to the gallery twice before, Studio Voltaire in 2009 and FormContent 2011. While those previous exhibitions were conceived by the people behind project spaces in the UK, the two curators of Tell me what I see, when I look into your eyes are both Switzerland-based. Caroline Lommaert and Nicola Ruffo received their MA in Curating from the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in 2011. Caroline Lommaert has since worked for BolteLang and Nicola Ruffo ran different independent art projects and works as a journalist. Recently, he has co-curated the exhibitions Learning from Warsaw at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle (2013,Warsaw) and Go! You Sure? Yeah!, 2014 at Pool Project, in collaboration with the LUMA Foundation and Ringier collection.