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Cultural perspectives Swiss Icon: a symbolic expression of Switzerland

What comes to your mind when you think of Switzerland? Chocolate, banks, luxury watches? These omnipresent images are not only indispensable products in everyday Swiss life. They are also considered symbols of Swiss tradition by people all around the world. However, they are presented across cultures in very different ways.

A few years ago, Chinese artist Ying Xu moved to Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland. Her daily life and discussions with Swiss friends about linguistic differences and the misunderstanding of images and symbols from different cultural perspectives provided her with ideas and subject matter for the “Swiss Iconexternal link” series. It has now become a major creative project for her.

The “icons” Xu chose are typical “Made in Switzerland” products such as fondue, edelweiss or yodelling and brands which probably haven’t been widely recognised internationally, for example Grittibänz, Tiger-Finkli and Ricola.

During the creative process, Xu gradually developed her own way of visually expressing the connection between a culturally representative item and its linguistic interpretation in another culture.

The style and composition was inspired by teaching her children Chinese, especially the popular game Chinese usually play during their childhood: 看图说话 (Reading the Image Card). In Xu’s work, everyone can watch, read, experience, question and explore the relationship between different cultures.

The series has been collected by Museum zu Allerheiligen Schaffhausenexternal link and Kunstmuseum Singenexternal link in Germany.

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