SPA History / 1966 /


Justus Imfeld

For the fourth time, Biel has the honour of providing an overview of the current state of Swiss

sculpture. To many visitors, the comprehensive quadrennial show has become a matter of course; one can survey the state of sculptural arts in Switzerland at regular intervals; witness

the currents and tendencies that continually change art; follow the artist's rise – and fall. One has grown used to the four-year rhythm at which the focus on sculptural art comes to Biel

where, at a convenient venue, Switzerland presents the way its artists cope with space and matter in these turbulent times.

The Exhibition has become an enterprise. And yet it has remained an adventure.
It was pure adventure when Marcel Joray and a handful of faithful companions created the first show. Never before had Swiss sculpture been brought together; little was known about whether there was such a thing as "Swiss" sculpture; a few artists only were known; and we were almost completely ignorant about trends and movements, about the relationships between this art and the greater and lesser world events. We knew even less about budgets; and least of all did we know what the outcome would be.

Now we know that the exhibition was a success, and that its success has been increasing with each show.  We know that there is no such thing as a national style but that our sculpture is a mirror-image of the free world, an art that is at complete liberty to express its subtle responses to world events in a unique idiom of its very own.
We owe this insight to Marcel Joray, who has directed these exhibitions with unstinting energy, coping with countless difficulties, and inspiring the present show with his indestructible optimism. It is his achievement if the name of Biel has come to be inseparably associated with contemporary sculpture – Biel owes him a debt of gratitude.

The adventure of the first exhibition is a thing of the past; the handful of companions has grown into an enterprise – and yet the adventure has remained. What use did the artists make of the past four years? What have they created in their mysterious studios? What ideas, what forms, what dimensions, what materials will predominate in Biel? What will the juxtaposition of time and work look like, where does the future lie? Until the gates to the show open, no predictions can be made, the adventure of the eternally new remains intact.

It took many helping hands to realise this show and I sincerely wish to thank everyone for their contributions to making it possible that so much space can – once again – be given in our city to things useless, playful and beautiful. Most of all I thank -
- the artists who created and submitted their works;
- the municipal authorities who in their generosity have not only made the Kongresshaus and its park available, but also construction machinery, builders, mechanics, workmen and gardeners, as well as funding;
- the cantonal and federal authorities who have provided financial support; the many individual trades people and industrialists, whose generous donations have helped keep the budget in balance;
- the countless voluntary staff members, architects, bankers, artists, construction specialists and journalists; and, finally,
- Biel Tourist Office and its lady secretaries.

Justus Imfeld

© Translation from German, July 2008: Margret Powell-Joss