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Comic art festival puts Lucerne at cutting edge

Featured: Dan Perjovschi has drawn images in white chalk on a wall of the Lucerne Theatre

Lucerne may be a perfect tourist destination but until now it has not been known as a centre for cutting edge art.

This may be about to change, as the Fumetto International Comix Festival this year celebrates its 19th anniversary with a series of intriguing projects and exhibitions and the launch of a new pilot programme, Punkte10.

Fumetto started in 1992 as a small trade festival focused on comic arts, but has developed over the years into a major nexus for contemporary drawing, sketching, and comics. But more importantly it is known as a centre for the promotion of graphic art as fine art.

With its special annual themed contest, Fumetto supports the development of the careers of emerging artists by awarding them a stipend and organising an exhibition.

In addition to the annual contest, the festival also hosts large exhibitions in various spaces throughout the city, like museums, performance spaces, and galleries.

In the past few years, Fumetto has moved towards integrating into the festival internationally known contemporary artists bridging comic and fine art. Last year’s David Shrigley solo exhibit at the Lucerne Kunsthaus and this year’s Dan Perjovschi and Olaf Breuning participations prove that drawing and text is back in a big way.

This year Fumetto, in collaboration with Südpol Music and Dance Theatre, and Akku Art Center in Emmen, is launching Punkte 10, a public art festival taking place in parallel to the international comics festival in May.

“It's quite a long time that Fumetto and Südpol have been dreaming of creating an event like this,” said Südpol director Phillipe Bischopf.

Installations and performances

He said the idea stemmed from two convictions: that art in the public sphere can have a very important influence on the perception of the current art scene and that the treatment of the public sphere is a very delicate and critical matter.

“Creating an event like Punkte 10 is connected with the hope of producing discussions on what and how the public sphere in Lucerne could and should be defined, changed and invented,” he explained.

“We want to surprise the visitors with unexpected actions and interventions on the streets that they walk on in their daily life and to which they usually don’t pay any attention. The public sphere, as anything else in human life, is constructed and produced by society members, and it would be nice to point out this fact in an intelligent manner.”

Punkte 10 features installations, performances, and other events all in the public space. The featured artist this year is the internationally renowned Romania-based artist Dan Perjovschi, who is also participating in Fumetto.

His project for Punkte 10 involves drawing his iconic images and text in white chalk on the side wall of the Lucerne Theatre, which has been painted in black for the occasion. This drawing process is in itself a performance, open to the public to watch and discuss the social and political implications that Perjovschi evokes.

Another installation of note is Micha Aegger’s sculpture on water, featuring numerous floating white balls connected together to create an organic and amorphous shape, but attached to the bottom of the river to remain in place.

In addition to the installations and art projects placed at various locations throughout Lucerne, Emmenbrücke, and Kriens, Punkte 10 also features music and dance performances, as well as children’s activities.

Making an impact

As a pilot, Punkte 10 has much to learn from this year’s experience and how it can leverage what it has created to make an even bigger impact next year and in the years to come.

“I hope that the festival will develop during its two year pilot phase into a Swisswide-known and respected platform for art in the public space,” said Fumetto director Lynn Kost.

“Fumetto will be one of the partners to accentuate the content of the festival in the future, and push Lucerne forward as a centre for this lively art form.”

She said art in the public space provoked discussion, and different opinions could be discussed with other people, creating opportunities to enter into contact with one another.

“I hope visitors will take advantage of these opportunities and approach each other to exchange ideas. I hope as well that they will participate and interact with the artists and experience how exciting art can be,” Kost said.

Olga Stefan in Lucerne, swissinfo.ch

Key facts

Fumetto International Comix Festival, May 1-9, 2010

Punkte 10, May 1-9, 2010

Perjovschi will hold a lecture discussing his work on May 6 at 5pm.

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Fumetto

The list of internationally known contemporary artists who have participated over the years in Fumetto includes graphic art superstars like Chris Ware from Chicago, Marjane Satrapi and David B. of l’Association from Paris, Arian Tomine and Jason Lutes of Drawn & Quarterly from Montreal, Joe Sacco from Malta, Le Dernier Cri from Marseille, Rutu Modan from Israel and Karlien de Villiers from South Africa.

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