Wenn die Kirche nicht mehr im Dorf steht
(When the church is no longer in the village)

Zurich, Switzerland, 2014

Churches are an integral part of every Swiss town. They commonly occupy the most beautiful and central locations, and are the heart of the town. Still, they often go unnoticed - despite their imposing steeple. The expression, „Thus the Church shall stay in the village“, frequently used in a secular context, means that something remains as it has always been.

The project took place near where I grew up. On my strolls through Zurich-Oerlikon I tried to see my childhood through a new perspective. I came across the Protestant Church of Oerlikon, an imposing building reflecting the transition from historicism to reformation architecture with a steeple of almost 70 metres.

Relying on the original plan by the architect Adolf Aspers, 1906, I transferred and converted the church into the gallery space: The North-East facade on the exact scale of 1:7.5 was mirrored, folded and put up with the steeple wedged into the exhibition space.

The adjoining cabinet became a kind of a bell itself with a bell clapper lying on the ground and a frieze (a rubbing of the bell’s ornamentation) along the surrounding walls.

Even before entering the gallery which is close to the church a faint sound of bells was heard. Instead of the sound coming down to us from the top of the steeple it ascended from below. Descending to the basement the origin of the bell-ringing finally became clear – a three channel video projection showed the bells in action. With their immense weight (the largest weighs about three tons) were they unfolding an optical and acoustic force that even made the recording camera tremble. In the moments of silence, the camera swept over the inscriptions on the bells or showed other details.
The bells also stand for a shift of values – they were cast from old French cannons!

With my work I not only want to question institutionalised religion in Switzerland with its huge edifices used only by a few, but I also evoke a new perception of spatial and acoustic habits by changing place and size.

Based on the presentation text by Michael Nitsch (LOKAL 14, former "gastspiel", Raum für Interventionen und Impulse)


folded church (Gefaltete Kirche)
The North-East facade on the exact scale of 1:7.5 mirrored and folded.
Based on the original plan by the architect Adolf Aspers, 1906.
Birch plywood (ca. 3.50m x 7m x 1.80m)
In collaboration with Francis Bovet (Holzwerk)

photograph (Fotografie)
Pulling up of the church spire, 1907.
© V. and R. Huonker, Protestant Church of Zurich-Oerlikon
Inkjetprint, paste (61cm x 46.5cm)

Big bell (Grosse Glocke)
- Frottage
Graphit on transparent paper roll (30cm x 8.40cm)
Wood stand
- Clapper
Steal (0.25m x 1.60m)
Property of Glockengiesserei Rüetschi AG, Aarau

4 bells, B-major (4 Glocken, H-Dur)
3 Videoprojections, Full HD
Sound, Stereo 2.1
In collaboration with cmunz (Video) and Anselm Caminada (Sounddesign)
Big bell: B, 3050kg, diameter 162.5cm
Midday bell: D sharp, 1555kg, diameter 130.1cm
Prayer bell: F sharp, 895kg, diameter 108cm
Death bell: G sharp, 626kg, diameter 96cm
Casted from old French cannons, 70% bronze, 1907
Cit: Matthias Walter, Edition: Schweizerischer Kunstführer Nr. 901, Ref. Kirche Zürich-Oerlikon, Gesellschaft für Schweizerische Kunstgeschichte, Bern 2012 page 35,37.

Michael Nitsch (LOKAL 14, former "gastspiel", Raum für Interventionen und Impulse)
Francis Bovet (Wood work)
cmunz (Video)
Anselm Caminada (Sounddesign)

Protestant Church of Oerlikon, Zurich:
Renata Huonker-Jenny (Rector) and Fabienne Vocat (Head of the church board)
Cordula Zanin (Sexton)
Yvonne Bhimani (Sexton)
Daniel Bollier (Caretaker)

Matthias Walter (lic.phil. I, Author of Schweiz. Kunstführers Nr. 901, Reformierte Kirche Zürich-Oerlikon, 2012)
Bell foundry (Glockengiesserei) Rüetschi, H. Rüetschi AG, Aarau
Stefan Rohner (Artist, Video technician)
se-architekten (Ilona Schneider/Michel Eigensatz) and Theresa Pabst (Architect)

Knights in shining armor:
Marie-Theres Weiss, Sämi Bauhofer, Nina Roth, Judith Balla, Jean-Luc Bodmer, José Scarabello, Margrit Schärli, Reini Suter, Dolores Hegnauer-Abt