Seeing things ... through the eyes of a stranger
For this year’s exhibition, artists were asked to focus on the authentic and the genuine in the reality of today’s Engadin. The installations are the result of in-depth research into regional culture, for the most part in collaboration with experts. Distance helps us to see more clearly. The role of art is to study the essence of a thing and to make it visible and readable. It is a much greater challenge than simply answering the question “What makes a village unique, or what is typical of this region, or what sets it apart from all others?” And this is why the theme was to be used merely as a starting point, as a working title.
The results are diverse and profound, and they reflect the reality of today. The works of art are a reflection, for example, of the loss of the basis of our existence – the soil, the permafrost and the glaciers – a representation of nature and traditions, the lives of Portuguese immigrant workers and, in contrast, the lives and legacy of past émigrés (known locally as randulins, often with the profession of confectioner). The works of art tackle the question of who has seen the Engadin through the eyes of a stranger, and who – despite varying perceptions – has found inspiration here.
The process involved in developing the 26 works of art was the same as it was 150 years ago, when artists, painters, poets, musicians and philosophers, as well as natural scientists and the first alpinists, saw the uniqueness of the Engadin, its villages and inhabitants ... through the eyes of a stranger, and made the valley’s inhabitants aware of a new authenticity and helped to attract visitors to the valley. The reality of the past, the austere mountain landscape, the rough soil, the harsh environment, the long winters – all of which made everyday life anything but easy.