«Robert Walser-Sculpture» from Thomas Hirschhorn
For 86 days in the summer of 2019, the "Robert Walser-Sculpture", conceived by the artist Thomas Hirschhorn at the invitation of the Swiss Sculpture Exhibition (ESS-SPA), occupied Biel's Train Station, raising a great deal of international interest.
Since the start of his project in June 2016, Thomas Hirschhorn has always said that he did not want to create an object but a work of art in public space, involving the people of Biel and inviting them to meet and exchange views on the life and work of the writer Robert Walser, born in Biel in 1878. His objective was largely achieved, as the "Robert Walser-Sculpture" provided an intense and unique experience, unforgettable and therefore still alive. Every day, around 38 events were created and attended by more than 200 people.
The unique dynamics of the "Robert Walser Sculpture" attracted visitors from all over Switzerland and abroad. Robert Walser was very present at Biel's train station. Every day, passengers, travellers and visitors took something of Robert Walser into the world with them
The project was not without its critics, but as the Biel historian Margrit Wick-Werder pointed out in one of her daily talks on the "Robert Walser Sculpture", since its first edition in 1954 the ESS-SPA has always been the subject of criticism – in fact most public art is closely scrutinized. "If everyone had approuved of this edition, the ESS-SPA would not have fulfilled its mission of questioning and promoting contemporary art," said Cedric Némitz, then president of the ESS-SPA. The ESS-SPA set a budget of 1.692 million francs for the realisation of the "Robert Walser Sculpture".