The tip of the iceberg is exhibited in Berne

"Drift" by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle. Berne fine arts museum

The coolest art event in Switzerland this summer is at the fine arts museum in Berne. Entitled "Ice Age", it's the city’s first major exhibition of contemporary art for several years and it's certain to get a warm response from the public.

This content was published on July 21, 2000 - 15:20

"Ice Age" consists of works and installations from Bernese collections which are highly regarded by art experts, but which have seldom been on view because of limited exhibition space.

Joint curator, Ralf Beil, says the ice age theme was chosen "because we wanted to make an ironic statement, which also has its serious side, by saying there is a certain amount of freezing in our society.

"The irony is that we are posing questions about this at a time when there’s concern about the glaciers melting as a result of global warming."

Only two installations are literally freezing. One has shelves of heads sculpted in ice inside a giant refrigerator, which visitors are encouraged to enter - despite the temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius. A second, smaller icebox contains a pair of rubber boots, which have been filled with water and deep frozen to create a surrealistic, somewhat morbid effect.

"These are exceptions," said Beil. "We didn’t just want to exhibit works which are blocks of ice or frozen objects."

By their intelligent use of the museum space, the curators have created an exhibition which ensures that works by the artists involved will get the attention they deserve between now and October 1.

Much more space will be available in five years’ time, with the opening of a new museum of contemporary art in Berne. But until then many works will remain hidden from public view.

What is on display in the "Ice Age" exhibition is literally just the tip of the iceberg.

by Richard Dawson

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