Selected press coverage
Hans und Renée
In music, sweet spot refers to the optimal point of
attack on an instrument. Can there also be a sweet
spot in the exchange with artists from different
disciplines? How can sound in combination with
another art form result in a whole that is more
than the sum of its parts?
The sound artist Fritz Hauser (b.1953, Basel) seeks dialogue across media boundaries. Both in the exhibition and in its activation, he explores the question of the sweet spot in the fields of music, painting, video, textile design, photography, collage, drawing, space and light—an energetic polyphony.
When writing about Fritz Hauser (b. 1953, Basel), we should begin with sound. So I start playing one of the many CDs that he has recorded over the past few years, which have been released in many different contexts, either as solo or collaborative projects. There is the sound of grating, scratching, slashing, overlaying, condensing. In many instances, you have to listen carefully to hear anything at all; Hauser not only modulates sounds and tones, but also silence. As a result, it is precisely the latter that we can hear in the first place.
But how could we display this universe of tones, sounds, noises, and music in an exhibition? This is a medium that seems only to be heard and experienced over time—and actually, in most cases, at a precise moment in time, in the here and now. It cannot be consigned to its duration and much less to the visual realm. And yet both music and art share the exact same need when it comes to making a place, such as an exhibition venue, vibrate: a space, a resonating body, a sound and echo chamber—a space that is furnished with light, preferably a changing one, that makes it possible for time to be experienced as it unfolds.
And while thinking about this connection between music, art, space and light, it becomes apparent that the terms used to describe them have been linked for a long time and do not hesitate to move across genres; nevertheless, it is in fact language that is lagging far behind. For how could we accurately describe the overall project that Fritz Hauser has developed alongside his collaborators in and for the Kunsthaus Baselland? How could we even define the man himself? Drummer, musician, artist, percussionist, sound artist, composer, performer, sound researcher, creator of sound images? The list could probably go on and on.
For the Kunsthaus, one thing is particularly clear: Fritz Hauser is someone who engages in a constant dialogue with the arts and consequently with all those who embark on creative adventures with him—whether they are architects, like his long-time friend and interlocutor Boa Baumann, as well as the architects Quintus Miller & Paola Maranta, or the lighting designer Brigitte Dubach, who has also developed projects with Hauser for many years. Hauser’s circle also includes video artists like Erich Busslinger, Christine Camenisch and Johannes Vetsch, and Patrick Steffen, textile designers like Isabel Bürgin and Fabia Zindel, as well as artists whose paintings, collages, drawings, and photographs have long been part of his inspiring surroundings, such as Sabine Hertig, Marius Rappo, Maja Rieder, and Jürgen Wiesner.
The exhibition title, Sweet Spot, is used in music to designate the optimal spot for an instrument to be played. Finding this spot through exchanges with artists from various disciplines has long been an important driving force for Hauser. I find it important to mention that this creative inspiration is never to be understood as being one-sided, but rather as a constant reciprocal pendular movement—similar to improvisation, which is based on a plan or at least an idea, but responds to what is in the process of being created over time. This is how Bice Curiger’s invitation to Fritz Hauser in 2014, on the occasion of the opening of the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles, culminated in the work Die Treppe im Regen / Schraffur für Arles, a permanent, expansive sound drawing, whose primary aspect is the way it seizes the surrounding space, and which can be experienced both visually and acoustically. It is also no accident that, for many years, Fritz Hauser has also fostered an intensive dialogue with the Zurich Schauspielhaus’s artistic director Barbara Frey, herself a percussionist. In 2021, this resulted in Hauser’s invitation to the Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen—one of the world’s most renowned theater festivals, of which Frey is now the director.
These few examples already show that such a connection between art, genres, and media is not a brief interlude. Rather, it is the result of Fritz Hauser’s long-lasting passionate involvement; for him, the most productive form of dialogue is and remains creative and artistic in nature—consistently inclusive, often uncompromising, and always curious.
It follows that this exhibition should be seen primarily as an invitation. It is an invitation to walk across different spaces, varying lighting arrangements, and soundscapes, to encounter works by trusted and esteemed artists, designers, and architects that produce sound, resonate, reveal, seduce, amaze, and inspire—and, almost incidentally, fundamentally shape our ways of hearing and seeing. (IG)
Using your own smartphone and headphones, you can call up and listen to additional information on the individual artists and sound traces of the works in the exhibition via QR code. By clicking on the artists' names, this information can also be accessed via the website.