I arrived here yesterday by plane, and then train from Zurich to Buchs, which sits on the Rhine, bordering Lichtenstein. Snow was plastered all over the peaks and the lakes were like glass in the morning sun, while the fields were yellow with dandelions and blossom was on all the fruit trees.
I am here to make 3 installations in the castle for the festival in May – called Traces, which will encompass music, sound and visual installations. Pipilotti Rist lives in the village and has a work in the castle. I am making a mushroom Cloud in a beautiful and austere tall square stone room on the first floor. There are no windows in the room and we have put a false floor in so we can light the work from beneath as at Arte Sella. This work however will be taller and altogether bigger and will fill the room forcing the viewer, who has to duck to get in a low entrance, to look up.
The mushrooms have come from the same supplier in Italy – 5 hours drive away, and Stefan and his crew have been making an amazing job of the frame and scaffolding. The light is a stage spot which gets very hot and we have been debating if the perspex will get too hot and catch fire – but we have found a solution.
At Arte Sella we used around 6000 mushroom pieces, here there will be double that and we may have to go and get some more. They are all dipped in sealer and dried – again something done by a team of diligent helpers; some local, some from Berlin and Italy. German is the language spoken here – but alas I don’t speak it – wish I did.
So we have made 9 of the 25 rows needed for the stem on the first day. I have also spotted a perfect log stack under an arch in the village. Densely packed and neat, it is owned by an elderly man who has agreed to let me scorch a mushroom spore print onto it. The other one, painted in dust and ashes will be in a vaulted arch inside the entrance stairway of the castle.
So I have a lot of work to do and two weeks in which to do it. I would like a spare day to climb a mountain too.
On Monday my 3rd grandchild will be born in a hospital in Malmo, so there is much to look forward too and I have been scrabbling to get some internet connection so I can get the news as it comes and hopefully pictures too. I am getting good at being a grandad. Last week I took Esme (aged 6) to Tate Modern to see the two magic Kusama rooms and the live butterflies in the Damian Hirst show – carefully skirting much of the rest but walking through the Mother and Child Divided, and past the dying flies, with much yucking from Esme! In fact she was entranced by the beach ball suspended on a draught of air, and moved backwards and forwards half a dozen times between the two magic Kusama spot rooms.
The festival at Schloss Werdenberg opens on May 25th. My installations will remain for the year.