Category Archives: Event Review

photo woman-Sherman

Cindy Sherman: Untitled Horrors at the Kunsthaus

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Caitlin Krause

A work of art earns its merit when it elicits response. Revere them or revile them, Cindy Sherman’s photographs are memorable, and to truly view them is to engage with the material. While her meaning may be complex and often ambiguous, she is never one for passivity, and the exhibition on display through 14 September at the Kunsthaus Zurich delivers food for thought.

Challenging the Media’s Portrayal of Women

Dubbed “Untitled Horrors”, the retrospective, which was painstakingly compiled by the museum in collaboration with the artist herself, makes a daring leap into the realm of the grotesque and macabre. Sherman (1954–) first made a name for herself as an American photographer in 1977, with the release of her series “Complete Untitled Film Stills”, which challenged the media’s portrayal of women. One black and white photograph from the series shows a woman (Sherman herself, who served as the sole model for all of her photographs) descending a flight of stairs, seemingly in a hurry. The framing, lighting, and characterization create the effect of simulating a Hitchcock scene, though such an image doesn’t actually exist in his films. Sherman simply knows how to evoke the same feeling. The suspense and tension in her photographs are as much a part of what is shown, and what is left for a viewer to imagine. Her themes include a series of clown portraits, as well as images of dolls, and recreations of fairy tale scenes that are even more grim than Brothers Grimm could have envisioned.

For the past four decades, Sherman has challenged the media’s definitions of beauty, sexuality, and the role of women in society


She’s an innovator with what must be a wicked sense of humour (and, coming from Boston, I’m free to use the term wicked rather ambiguously). While Sherman’s work could easily qualify as “creepy”, I found myself delighted by the opportunity to create my own imagined stories from the clues she artfully presents. Each photograph is highly innovative and well executed. She leaves space for interplay with the audience, and I feel myself invited to participate. In addition, by using herself as a universal subject, she achieves the ultimate ability to transmit a message through her gestures and features, often comically endearing. Each character that Sherman powerfully represents is oddly familiar, and it’s ultimately this recognition, of humanity and a uniting force, that wins me over. Truly, she’s a marvel.

Exhibition Website:


Esperienza Acrobats: A Night Out in the Boonies

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Dominik shows that: “It pays to look past the big billboards at the train stations, and the radio and television advertising. This acrobatic troupe, Esperienza even justify a trip to Zurich’s boonies”. What are the boonies? Read on.

Esperienza Acrobats: Ganz Grosses Kino

Esperienza are from Hinwil in Canton Zurich: they hold performances once or twice a year. This performance took place on the 5th and 6th of April, 2014.

Thrills, stunts and an immediate sense of danger. That’s what awaits at the annual show of the acrobatics’ troupe Esperienza. The show’s title «Ganz Grosses Kino» translates to English as «Really Big Cinema». The troupe are obviously inspired by stunts in big Hollywood movies like Kill Bill as Esperenza think big, pushing themselves to their limits, and occasionally a bit further.

Esperienza is not a professional troupe of acrobats. But unlike some other small clubs in the larger Zürich area, the 17 people that make up Esperienza are not content with being small. Like many clubs and projects outside of Zürich’s main cultural scene, projects that don’t fill big venues and get a lot of money in ticket revenue, Esperienza exists on the fringes of a rich scene full of people who do their things with Herzblut.

pic 1 esperienza

Compound-Nouns like Herzblut and Rural Quirks

‘Herzblut’ is a German word that translates to «Blood of the Heart». It is short because of a grammatical quirk that allows Germans to connect nouns ad infinitum. Sure, at some point, the connected nouns stop making sense, but you can line them up until you run out of space or time.

When not being a grammatical oddity, Herzblut is something that is poured into projects that have little to no chance to be a commercial success. In fact, the people doing the Herzblut-Projects do it because they believe in it. They believe that they’re doing something good, if only for themselves. And sometimes, they fill entire Säle somewhere out in the areas that the people living in the city of Zürich would refer to as «The Boonies». And what are the Boonies? The full name is Boondocks and means ‘Agglo’ short for ‘Agglomeration’ in German (or agglomeration / the greater Zürich area).

Säle are another odd thing. Säle is the plural of Saal, which translates to ‘great hall’. But seeing as Switzerland and the adjective «big» aren’t really mentioned in the same sentence all that often, a Saal in Switzerland is usually a large room that holds a few hundred people. They are places where the local yodel-choir holds concerts; or a town’s third-graders hosts their very first piano concert after hitting the musical instrument with their tiny fists for a year.

Once a year, the smaller villages and communities hold their annual political gathering called the «Gemeindeversammlung» (German for Gathering of the Community). This is a meeting where a small fraction of voters meet with the local mayor and decide on who should get citizenship, what big amounts of money should be spent on and a great many other things only to then complain alongside the people who didn’t go that the government always gets everything wrong and never asks for the people’s opinion. Ah, rural Switzerland, you’re a wild and confusing world. Gemeindesäle got popular in the early decades of the 20th century and are often attached to restaurants that were popular at the time. Over the years, they’ve lost a lot of their significance or – with the steady growth of communities around the country – got too small. So the old Säle have difficult standing in Swiss society. A relic of times gone by, a black hole for money, and rarely used.

Trapeze, Kill Bill and Real Danger

With all grammar and history of rural Switzerland out of the way, let’s get back to Esperienza. Back to daring circus-numbers that have been inspired by movies. This show dares to push the limits of what amateurs can and cannot do. There are three women who learned how to climb up silky pieces of fabric and wrap themselves up so that they seem suspended by nothing. They think big, dance with fire and occasionally, something goes wrong during the big show.

pic 3 esperienza

The acrobats in «Ganz Grosses Kino» take their inspiration from big Hollywood blockbusters. There’s a fire-dancing number inspired by Indiana Jones, a man on a slackline dressed up as Zorro, jugglers looking like the blue alien Na’Vi from James Cameron’s Avatar and many more. The show is not perfect by a long shot but it is demanding. The acrobats train for the better part of a year to make this happen. The young man balancing on the tightrope has to put his foot on the ground every now and then and lands on his behind after his back flip grand finale off the tightrope. The music cuts out unexpectedly during an exciting battle between a Jedi and a Sith-Lord fought with glowsticks; and one acrobat gets tangled more than once during the aerial silk number. But it is these imperfections that makes their efforts even more impressive. Because, after all, there’s a young man doing a front flip off of a wobbly line that is about a foot off the ground. Let’s see you do that.

Two people dressed as Jedi and Sith have taught themselves to whirl around glowing sticks at high speeds, even crossing the paths of their rotations and being in perfect sync. The insane amount of work and dedication – Herzblut – put into the show is obvious. And when their acts end, the acrobats are panting after their muscles were visibly straining. But it’s not over for them. A quick costume change backstage and they are back onstage again, doing more daring acrobatics, pushing themselves once more. This goes on for two hours. Go out on stage, change costume, and go out on stage again.

Whenever a member of Esperienza stumbles, a murmur goes through the Saal. People gasp. But unlike many professional circuses, this show is actually more engaging. They show that they can and will fall: sometimes painfully. And when the members of the troupe build a human pyramid about 13 feet high, and the girl who should make up the top of the pyramid struggles because the two people she’s supposed to stand on are just too far apart, the audience holds its breath. When three trapeze artists dressed like Beatrix «The Bride» Kiddo from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill let themselves fall from their trapezes only to catch themselves about 7 feet off the ground with their feet on their trapezes, the audience has already had vivid images of the three women’s skulls crashing into the ground.
pic 4 esperienza

This creates a very emotionally-charged experience. It is evident that the young acrobats give this their all. They push themselves far, probably a bit too far occasionally. But they dare. Along with their physical show, their creativity extended to designing their own costumes. Outfits included: crocheted hats that resemble the Minions from the CGI-animated movies Despicable Me; and, leotards that resemble the ones from ‘the Incredibles’ by Pixar.

Esperienza originated in the Children’s Circus of Hinwil, in Zurich. After the members of the troupe got too old for the children’s circus, they founded Esperienza in 2004. Since then they have produced one big show per year. They conceptualize, they plan, and they train hard. And it all culminates in that one big show that happens once or twice a year.

This is why it is worth looking past the big billboards at the train stations, past the big announcements and commercials on radio and television. Acts like Esperienza make it worthwhile to spend a Saturday night away from the thumping basses – a change from watching the girls in short skirts, or the guy’s with their slick hair gel. Just make sure you catch the last train back to the city.

Pictures copyright of Stefan Friedli


Day in the Life of Zurich’s Legendary Langstrasse

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While Zurich is synonymous with glamour, banking and expensive shops, as one of my fave singers, Kelly Clarkson might say: “Everybody’s got a dark side,” and so too does Zurich. This “Day in the Life of the Legendary Langstrasse” is Dominik’s description of a trip on the 32 bus on Langstrasse. This feature is funny: very funny. The only issue I have it, is that is funnier than anything I write. But I am okay with that. Honest. Nualan, Editor.

Thoughts on the 32 Bus

by Dominik

Wipkingen is a lovely little part of Zürich. It is notable for losing more and more significance as time goes by. Before Hardbrücke was built, it had two tram lines going through it. Nowadays, only one sort of half touches a bit of Wipkingen. It still has a train station, but the locals talk about that being shut down soon enough. There’s very little that makes Wipkingen stand out. Except for one thing: The 32-Bus goes through it. This is where a tale of violence, horror, outrage and, ultimately, the thing that makes Zürich such a wonderful city takes place.

The #32-Bus is somewhat known among the residents of Zürich as it is the line that connects Holzerhurd and the Strassenverkehrsamt. But that’s not what it’s infamous for. It’s infamous for being the one bus line that goes all the way down the Langstrasse. For all those new to the city, or if you’re not from around here, this might not mean anything to you. Thus: Interlude.

The Legendary Langstrasse

The Langstrasse is a road that is about 1.1km long. Its name literally translates as ‘Long Street’. In the 1970’s, it was known as the red light district of Zürich and it still retains some of that reputation.

The Cinema in the Langstrasse: the red-light (ish) district of Zurich

The Cinema in the Langstrasse: the red-light (ish) district of Zurich

There’s still one of the few porn cinemas on the Langstrasse. Quartier Langstrasse also has the second-highest percentage of foreigners in any part of Zürich. The buildings are old and often run down. The people living in them are generally young – with very few children and old people. While all this doesn’t sound so bad, it’s also the place where the so-called ‘Randständige’ meet. This is a very Swiss expression and is short for “People who have fallen through the social net and are now either completely hopeless, homeless, drug-addicted or just mentally ill and without supervision or any combination of these factors”. These days, there are still junkies, nutters and other assorted derelicts around, but nowhere near the numbers that there were in years gone by.

The Langstrasse is a wonderful part of town. Seriously. Go visit it. Don’t talk to the people who look mad, ignore the prostitutes – and go see it. Eat something at the Happy Beck at the Militärstrasse. This is one of the places all Zürcher agree on. The food is so weird, it is glorious (who came up with the idea of making a spicy mozzarella croissant?) It is open 24/7 and when you’ve had a drink or several, it’s the best place to get a bite to eat.

The Langstrasse is perfectly safe as long as you stay away from the very obvious nutters.

Back on the Bus

Needless to say, the 32-Bus carries all these weird people from their homes – or wherever they were – to the Langstrasse and back home. Therefore, you meet all the Randständige on that bus at one time or another.

Upon entering, the first thing you’ll notice is the pungent smell. An eclectic mix of vomit, stale beer, sweat and other unspeakable things. Depending on the time of the day, the smell can be better or worse. Don’t sit down. This is where today’s story takes place. It’s about 7pm: the Smell is about at medium strength and the bus ambles from Wipkingen in the general direction of the Limmatplatz. A man in his 20’s sits in the seat behind the big and comfortable four-seat compartment. In said compartment, there are two women and a child of about twelve. The kid carries a scooter, one of the women has a heavy bag.

In Wipkingen, a woman enters. It’s immediately clear that she’s not quite right in the head. She walks on crutches, carries a big backpack that seems to be empty. Her clothes look ratty and she generally makes an impression of having questionable hygiene. But the 20’s guy doesn’t notice this. He’s listening to music on his iPod and appears to be writing a text message. She steers towards the empty seat. Scooterkid tries to move his accessory out of the way so that Crutcheslady can sit down. This doesn’t work and Crutcheslady is somewhat miffed about this. After all, she can’t stand for longer periods of time and she simply must insist on sitting down.

Here’s where the crucial factor of her being one of the Randständige comes in. Because Randständige are perfectly pleasant as long as they get ignored. However, there being a scooter in the way of the desired seat is nothing short of an outrage. She feels as if she must do something about this. So she does what she’s probably done dozens of times before. She hits the scooter with her crutches.

This gets the attention of everyone around, even 20’s guy. He sees that Crutcheslady probably needs his seat more than he does and does the polite thing. You see, the Swiss are very polite when it comes to this stuff. So while the other two women are getting all huffed up because Crutcheslady dared to hit the kid’s scooter with her crutches. This is also a thing the Swiss do very well. They don’t get outright angry, but they drop snide remarks. So while 20’s guy gets up and lets Crutcheslady sits down, the woman with the large bag says something that obviously enrages Crutcheslady. So Crutcheslady does what she’s probably done dozens of times before. She hits the bag lady on her leg with her crutches.

Now, it’s on. The Swiss abandon their strict neutrality. Sides are being taken, the beaten woman finds an ally in her neighbour. But still, no additional violence. What happens is that a person complains loudly about another person that is clearly within earshot. But they would never hit each other. Instead this sentence escapes the beaten woman’s mouth:

«You deserve whatever happened to you!»

Big mistake. Because if there’s one thing you do, you do not tell the Randständige that they deserved whatever psychological, physical or drug-related issues they got. While they’re ready and willing to wallow in self-pity at any given time and tell their stories, this is a big no-go. Some of these stories are prime examples of how the country of Switzerland – priding itself on taking care of all the people living there – simply fails some people. They’re sad, they’re horrible, they’re realistic. But, you do not tell them that they deserved it. Obviously, Crutcheslady is furious by now. So she does what she’s probably done dozens of times before. She hits the woman with her crutches. Again.

«You need to learn respect», yells the beaten woman.

«No, you need to learn respect», screeches Crutcheslady.

Crutcheslady does what she’s probably done dozens of times before. She hits the woman with her crutches. Once again.

Usually, everyone aggressively ignores the quarrel that happens not a meter away from them. Because in Switzerland, it is entirely possible to miss people being beaten up while screaming only centimetres away from you. Neutrality, this is called. But every now and then, a marvellous thing happens. Suddenly, 20’s guy has had enough of the squabble that he helped start:

«Why don’t we all learn some respect and shut the hell up?»

The True Villain of the Story

Silence. Crutcheslady and her victim are quiet for a moment. It is highly unusual for people to just butt in and take part of someone else’s fight. This is Switzerland after all where you can claim that you must be left alone even when you’re in public – as evidenced by naked people running around chasing pigeons in Solothurn lately. In fact, this seems to have dealt with the fighting on the bus. Crutcheslady hohums a bit and quiets down. The beaten woman also quiets down, because someone just dared to mess with their respective issues.

But, deep down in their warring souls, both Crutcheslady and the Beaten Woman know: 20’s Guy. Scum of the Earth. Worst generation ever. No respect. Because he dared invade their privacy, violent as it may be.

So how does this tale end? Very anticlimactically, I’m afraid. Everyone got off the bus and those few rounds of whacking people over the head with crutches or being whacked over the head with the same crutches was probably the most exciting thing that happened to these people that day.

The most amazing thing about all this is that there’s nothing learned from this. Nobody learned anything. Crutcheslady will continue to hit people with her crutches. The Beaten Woman will keep on thinking that she can go and insult everyone’s cruel fate when being whacked over the head with crutches and 20’s Guy… well, we all know who the true villain of this story is, don’t we? How dare he.

FERRARI 458 Speciale

Geneva Auto Salon Review

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Author Nualan O’Brien
Photo (c) Ferrari of the Ferrari 458 Special.

First Time at the Geneva Auto Salon

I left the illustrious Auto Salon in Geneva with a feeling that I have rarely at an event in Switzerland, namely “underwhelm”. Having written about the Geneva Car Expo for the last two years, I was excited to finally get to see it in 2014.
While I cannot claim to be wildly passionate about cars, having worked in the car hire business, I do know a reasonable amount about cars. I am, however passionate about well-run events. I appreciate the attention to detail, the creative elements or the sense of enthusiasm for a topic that conferences and events can generate.

What the Swiss do well, very well in fact is attention to quality, detail and innovation. While the event was logistically well organised, it lacked the element of surprise or having something extraordinarily memorable.

What is on show?

What does one see at the Auto Salon? There are six halls, one a conference centre and the other five have stands from the best known car brands in the world including: BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Citroen, Opel, Toyota. The luxury market was also well displayed: sleek Aston Martins, elegant jaguars, purring Porsches and stately Bentleys were on view. Some models like Jaguars and Landrovers were encircled in low-glass walls with only the ‘likely buyers’ being allowed to come in and sit in them. Other cars – more family type cars like the good-value Dacias and the spacious Mitsubishis were left open for folk to sit in them and test out the comfort of the seats.

The Hostesses

Behind the larger stands there were teams of slender, elegant girls working as hostesses. While the ladies looked pretty in their matching uniforms, they also looked bored and shared the unmistakable look of “my feet are killing me” as they tottered around in their high heels.
Earlier this week, a few hostesses had been quoted in Blick about complaining about expo visitors asking for their mobile numbers. Did the girls know anything about the cars they were promoting? Were they all models hired in for the week? That is what it looked like. While female eye candy is not a new concept for selling cars it is certainly somewhat jaded and looked –dare I say it –vaguely sleazy.

Car of the Year and my Personal Favourite is…

In 2013, the car of the year was the latest VW Golf, this year it was the Peugeot 308.

No doubt the car tastes for all were met: for a man whose priority it is to have a vehicle dazzles and can go from 1 to 100 in 8 seconds like the Aston Martin Vanquish Volante convertible, or a lady looking for a ‘city slicker’ like the Renault Captur, or a family looking for people carrier like the Mitsubishi, there was plenty of choice.

There were also some partially or fully electric-powered cars on display. My personal favourite was Renault Twizy, a very cute battery powered two-seater. It is in fact classed as a “heavy quadracycle” not a car, somewhere between a scooter and a smart. Interestingly these battery-powered vehicles require a monthly battery payment as well, which will probably curtail their popularity.

Food for Thought

In fact the free “L’illustre” motor show magazine was the most interesting and informative part of the show. Without it I would have missed the special exhibition: the Swiss at le Mans, or known where to find the “green vehicles”.

Did the Auto salon provide information on the cars? Check. Was it easy to find the stands? Check. Was it easy to get to from Geneva city centre? Check. Did it have any razamatazz or excitement? Not really. Did I smell a sense of excitement from the staff working there selling the cars? No.
What were the highlights for me? The magazine, the Renault Twizy and the audio-visual entertainment at Opel.

I saw several mothers of small children looking rather hot and uncomfortable sitting on the floor in feeding their children and giving them toys to entertain them. While there were restaurants, it is not necessarily easy to control small kids while Mum and Dad are doing “adult” stuff.

I do like to be positive so what could I suggest to improve this renowned event?
– Some staff working there who are passionate about cars. Some men? While there were a smattering of well groomed men as ‘hosts’, it would be great to have some staff with enthusiasm bouncing off them.
– A play area for kids with some supervision.
– Some talks on some related to driving e.g. night driving, driving in snow. It can be the same talks given every day.
– Some simulated car driving experiences. Something fun.
– Something glamourous, e.g. a fashion show (like the Mercedes Benz Fashion show in Zurich last Novemeber).
– Some related retail, e.g. why not bring in a brand to sell eye wear or something?
– Some racing drivers outside who are driving up and down a strip testing the fast cars (e.g. every day at 1pm) showing how fast the luxury Porsches and jags can go.

We spent two hours there and I did enjoy it but I was definitely not shaken, or stirred.

Ennio Morricone 
5 March, 2017

Ennio Morricone “My life in Music” Concert Review

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Author Nualan O’Brien

As we left the Moriconne concert on February 13th, my thoughts were: how could I ever express the beauty of this performance in words?

I was, it seems not alone in thinking this about this revered Italian composer.

“Sometimes words aren’t enough and that’s why we have art. Musically and visually artists can convey the wealth and depth of the human condition in a way that is beyond language either spoken or written.”’s review of Morricone’s concert in Dublin in 2013 (which was sold out in 8 minutes)

This was Morricone’s first concert in Zurich and my first time to see him.

In many eyes and ears ☺ Morricone is in the undisputed maestro of film scores having written music for over 500 films including: the Mission, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly and a Fistful of Dollars. His list of awards is extensive including an honorary Academy award, Golden globe awards (one for “the Mission”) and several “best original” Grammy awards and oh some Bafta awards. The list goes on…

The evening began with a ten-minute film in Italian with Morricone talking about his “Life in Music”. He said: “Music should not have it’s own personality, but complement the theme of the film.” I wondered about this, as in my view his music defined the films rather than the other way around. Without the score of Cinema Paradiso would the love story have been so touching? Would the suspense and tension have built so well in the “Trio’s Final Showdown” in the Good, Bad and the Ugly without the music? I think not.

His modesty however was refreshing in comparison to the current vogue of celebrities who frequently remind us of their marvelous gifts and virtues, e.g. Jay Z, the rapper (married to the ubiquitous Beyonce) saying in an interview on the Jonathan Ross British talk show “I sold 50 million albums, I’m a big deal.”

The following quote “doth spring to mind”
“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”
Saint Augustine

Morricone was accompanied by his orchestra, and also included two solo singers. The choir also sang beautifully and powerfully. The hall was filled with mesmerising music, transporting even the most cold of souls to a sublime place of reflection, joy and emotion. Tears filled my eyes for many of the pieces.

Morricone is 85 years young. As the concluded the last set to a standing ovation, he stumbled from his podium on his way to exit the stage. The concert hall held its breath as he lay there, completely still. Four colleagues rushed to help him. He rose, not quickly but carefully. He walked off to some deafening clapping.

Was he okay, we all worried? A few minutes later he came back to conduct a repeat of classics “Ecstasy of Gold” from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly – also received to a standing ovation. Some of the more enthusiastic audience members shouted out “Ennio Ti amo,” (I love you). His final piece was from the Mission – also met with a standing ovation. Way to go, Mr Morricone, I thought. It’s not how often we fall, but how often we pick ourselves up that matters.

Photo ©