SPA History / 1980 /

7th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition Biel, 1980
31st May -  24th August

film: Jürg Egli and Urs Küng —


Robert Aeschbacher

After a hiatus of five years Biel is about to realise its 7th Swiss Sculpture Exhibition (SPA). The

greatest federal presentation of sculptural and spatial arts has become an unmissable institution that may well lay claim to tradition.

Tradition obliges. The obligation involves the general public and artists, the work of art and its viewers. Everyone is called upon to realise their unique part in the total work even if weights seem to shift to one side. Because any kind of art follows its own laws, its creation requires not only complete autonomy, but also public sponsorship, as well as freedom in self-reliance and societal support. Only in this way can it unfold completely, and will return what it has been granted.

"Art is dead." – "Long live anti-art." Just recently, this kind of slogan shouted down from the walls of the most highly renowned art institutions while the art presented inside wished to be taken quite seriously. Art and works of art are specifically human achievements, art having existed as long as mankind. That art should be harnessed to all sorts of carts, some of them of a dubious nature, and that art should speak to us in many diverse idioms is both human and legitimate. Never, though, does art relieve its creator, the artist, from striving for honesty and searching for truthfulness. Beyond technique and craftsmanship, the work of art, should be the expression of a human and social achievement and an interpersonal relationship. Communication, then. Only thus can art become the force we need, the stimulant, the compass pointing to many familiar and new destinations.

The 7th Sculpture Exhibition would also like to serve such communication and mediate between two poles – between the artist and the visitor; the work of art and the person asking questions; between those who give and those who ask to be given. Not the least of its aims is to involve those who tend to remain outside this process. It is to reveal ways of perception and make accessible that which has been unconscious. The show intends to achieve a mission which – if it is successful – is a thanks-giving as well: to the city of Biel for support in terms of personnel, materials, funding, organisation and administration; to the cantonal and federal authorities for their continued support; to the many generous private sponsors; to the exhibition directors Maurice Ziegler and Alain Tschumi and their numerous staff; to the artists, whose commitment and work may be crowned by this event.

Robert Aeschbacher

Translation from german © Margret Powell-Joss