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Art beyond frontiers, a dappled, exhilarating trans-frontier exhibition of modern and traditional sculptures

Once again the frontier communes of Collex-Bossy (CH) and Ornex (F) have successfully cooperated in mounting an artistic and educational venture that brought delight and inspiration to many visitors from July to mid-September 2013.

This was 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 Bornes Beyond boundary stones.

True enough, we live on the national frontiers of France and Switzerland, but as internationals we have the privilege to go in and out of many cultures, languages and cuisines, we are confronted with different musical expressions, religions and philosophies, transcending stereotypes and caricatures. Thus we grow richer and wiser by virtue of this multiculturalism that the United Nations and its specialized agencies consciously nurture and promote.

A well-indicated six kilometres circuit zigzagging from Switzerland into France and back to Switzerland, this clever exposition was 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 to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon strolling through fields and forests adorned with art! All exhibits stood there, in the open, in the middle of nature, not in a gallery. There was no entrance fee and no museum guard or alarm system to dissuade visitors from getting too close or touching the art work.

In a world of increased video (and drone!) 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 gave its own exegesis. The visitor, however, remained 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 decided to visit by bike and spent two good hours studying the eclectic, ingenious and inspiring constructions – an invigorating outing, humorous, surprising and surely enough to satisfy anyone’s appetite for art.

The first exhibit was 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.

The fourth exhibit consisted of a series of sculptures and border stones by Henri Bertrand, a Swiss sculptor residing in Vaud, laureate of the 2012 edition of Art en campagne, which ran under the theme “Rousseau, solitary hiker”. This time Henri took up the new challenge and proposed 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), offered 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 swung lightly in the wind.

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”. The witty creator is Jacques Guillon, a resident of the Pays de Gex, who specializes on wood sculptures, with expositions in Belgium, France and Switzerland.

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

As in previous years, visitors had the opportunity to vote for their favourite work of art, a choice that is not always easy. At the closure ceremonies on 8 September, Yann-Lou Lara, was awarded his laurels. I too had voted for him. 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 2015, skipping one summer. For more information please consult www.artencampagne.org

Alfred de Zayas

Lara

Lara

Bertrand

Bertrand

van der Hoeven

van Der Hoeven

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