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Once again the frontier communes of Collex-Bossy (CH) and Ornex (F) have successfully cooperated in mounting an artistic and educational venture that is bringing delight and inspiration to many visitors from July to mid-September.

This is the fifth edition of the initiative Art en campagne — art in the countryside — dedicated this year to the real and figurative theme Au-delà des BornesBeyond boundary stones.  Indeed, we live not only on the frontiers of France and Switzerland, but as internationals we go in and out of many cultures and languages, we are confronted with different religions and philosophies, and we emerge richer and wiser thanks to this multiculturalism that is the United Nations and its specialized agencies. 

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A well-indicated six kilometres circuit zigzagging from Switzerland into France and back to Switzerland , this intelligent exposition is composed of 26 works of art by professional sculptors and amateurs representing seven nationalities.  From very young artists, to well-seasoned sculptors in their eighties, this exposition also included artistic ventures by schoolchildren from Collex, Ferney, Ornex and Versonnex. 

What a delightful way of spending a sunny Sunday afternoon strolling through fields and forests adorned with art!  All exhibits stand in the middle of nature, not in a gallery, there is no entrance fee and no museum guard telling the visitor not to get too close or not to touch. In a world of increased surveillance, it is particularly relaxing to be able to move about without supervision!   And for those who might not have understood the message of the sculptures, each exhibit gives its own exegesis.  The visitor, however, remains free to formulate his or her own interpretation, to personalize it, internalize it, and let the work of art deploy its magic.   My wife and I visited by bike and spent two good hours studying the very ingenious and inspiring constructions – an invigorating outing, humorous, surprising, enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite for art.

The first exhibit is a wooden construction depicting a man and a woman trying to decipher the frontiers – one by use of binoculars, the other by consulting the net.  The artist, Marianne van der Hoeven, was born in Germany and lives in Collex-Bossy – she translates emotions into abstract paintings and sculpture, using all sorts of material – earth, metal, plastic, paper, wood and stone.

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The fourth exhibit consists of a series of sculptures and border stones by the Swiss sculptor residing in Vaud, Henri Bertrand, the laureate of the 2012 edition of Art en campagne,  which had for theme “Rousseau, solitary hiker”. This time Henri takes up the new challenge and proposes a pragmatic approach to overcoming frontiers and other limitations: solidarity and cooperation. He depicts the homo ludens: man the playing being — one boy jumping over another, representing the commonality of the “we” and “they”, and the commitment to build a common future.

Susanne Lewest, born in Berlin and residing in Collonges (F), offers us the sixth exhibit , a construction between two trees ,a frontier mark composed of many stones collected on both sides of the frontier.  Hovering over this block of stones, hanging stones that move with the wind. 

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The ninth exhibit amused us particularly.  In the middle of the forest we found a multicoloured Totem with the sign “beyond frontiers there are unexpected encounters”.  Indeed!  Jacques Guillon is a resident of the Pays de Gex, and specializes on wood sculptures, with expositions in Belgium, France and Switzerland.

The tenth exhibit consists of monumental Question Marks rising from open green fields and joined together in the centre by a globe.  The artist, Yann-Loü Lara, was born in Morocco at the foot of the Sahara, son of a Spanish father and a Bretonne mother.  Proud of this heritage beyond frontiers, he expresses the euphoric dimension of diversity in large-scale and also in smaller structures intended to be allegories of mankind’s hopes. The question marks are not, however, constructions in concrete — but see-through.

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Like every year, visitors have the opportunity to vote for their favourite work of art, and at the closure of the exhibit the chosen artist is awarded his or her laurels.  At the time of writing the “prix de public” had not yet been attributed.

This fifth exhibition was prepared by a committee of Swiss and French art lovers, including Dr. Alfons Noll, retired legal advisor at ITU, and his wife Dr. Meike Noll-Wagenfeld, retired legal advisor at UNHCR.

The sixth edition of this fine initiative will be held in 2014.  For more information please consult http://www.artencampagne.org

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