From Rolex to but­tocks: Nu­dity at home of Swiss watch

The China Post - - ARTS -

The Swiss city of Biel and its peace­able cit­i­zens is known as the world cap­i­tal for watch­mak­ing.

But could the home of Rolex and Swatch also gain an un­likely rep­u­ta­tion for naked flesh?

Biel has been host­ing the inau­gu­ral Naked Per­for­mance Fes­ti­val — an event aimed at chal­leng­ing no­tions of what be­longs in public spa­ces.

“Art is welcome to­day in ev­ery city, but naked­ness, no!” artist Thomas Zollinger, who cre­ated the event end­ing Satur­day, told AFP.

Nu­dity may be com­mon­place in gal­leries and mu­se­ums, but there re­mains deep re­sis­tance — hypocrisy, ac­cord­ing to Zollinger — to see­ing it in the streets.

“The body is an ac­cepted medium of art (in public),” he said. “But why not the naked body?”

Per­suad­ing the Biel author­i­ties to host the event took some work, he added, but the first day of the fes­ti­val on Fri­day was com­pletely “peace­ful.”

A row of burghers formed around a group of nude women con­tort­ing them­selves on the road, while, in another lo­ca­tion, an el­derly man looked away as sev­eral per­form­ers sat in their birth­day suits on a line of fold­ing chairs.

On his web­site, Zollinger said that in con­ceiv­ing the piece he wanted to work “with naked bod­ies in a com­pre­hen­sive way whereby pedes­trian cir­cu­la­tion (and) the ar­chi­tec­tural en­vi­ron­ment...are also an in­te­gral part.”

Zollinger, who lives in Biel, has run the Rit­ual Theatre group since 1991, and has pro­duced a num­ber of per­for­mances based on nu­dity across Europe in re­cent years.

AFP

Switzer­land’s Gisela Hochuli per­forms dur­ing the “Body and Free­dom Fes­ti­val,” which bills it­self as the world’s first ever fes­ti­val for naked per­form­ing in ur­ban space, in Biel, Western Switzer­land on Fri­day, Aug. 21.

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