Last autumn three Japanese photographers and two filmmakers spent a month in Crans-Montana. After discovering this region in canton Valais, they interpreted it according to their own aesthetic model.
The results are on display until October 4 at the cultural centre of the Japanese embassy in Bern as part of the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The curator of the exhibition is herself at a cultural crossroads: Phitsamone Souvannavong has origins in Laos and grew up in Paris before going to university in Tokyo. After ten years in a Swedish bank, she decided to become a producer of art, buying a nice property in the upmarket resort of Crans-Montana, which she has adapted for artists.
Her idea is to invite hand-picked artists from around the world to create a joint project and works of art. “I love the process of discussion with artists,” she said.
Five Japanese artists were invited for the third project of CMARTS, the foundation created by Souvannavong: the photographers Tsuda Nao, Tomoki Imai and Iromi Kakimoto and video-makers Mami Kosemura and Takaya Tsuchiya.
Souvannavong chose the theme “the landscape of Crans-Montana and its region”. Why the landscape? “Crans-Montana is struggling with tourism because people are building really stereotypical buildings. Another solution has to be found. An artistic point of view from abroad could encourage creativity here and reveal different facets of the residents' environment,” she said.
The Japanese artists also benefit from artistic enrichment. “They too can discover new depths of their creativity thanks to their lengthy stay in Switzerland,” Souvannavong said. “Thus it’s a win-win situation.”
(Photos: © CMARTS, Text: Kuniko Satonobu, swissinfo.ch)