For its first research project the Beatrice Trussardi Foundation will retrace a small history of Swiss revolutions and utopias in order to understand what they can teach us about our future.
On July 14th in 1916, in Zurich’s old town, the Swiss wool workers’ guild had an animated discussion at its monthly assembly over the purchase of a new “Oerlikon” machine. The archives of the guild tell us that the price agreed upon, after much deliberation, was 2400 francs. That same evening, in that same building, one flight of stairs above, a small group of unknown writers and artists launched its first manifesto.
On the precariously lit stage, authors recited poems made up of incomprehensible words, musicians played imaginary instruments, and masked dancers performed improvised dances. Their aim: nothing less than to make a clean slate of bourgeois civilisation, starting from language itself. That’s why they baptized their movement with two elementary syllables: Dada.
Welcome to Switzerland. A ticking time bomb that lies beneath the delicate appearance of the cuckoo clock. Nietzsche, Einstein, Lenin, Joyce, Jung, Mary Wigman and Le Corbusier: the great dynamiters of the twentieth century all started here. The revolutions they introduced were conceived on the immaculate shores of the Alpine lakes, and then went on to produce their detonations far away, reaching the ends of the earth.
The mountains, in particular, have been the scene of the greatest illuminations, a place of utopia, where individuals and communities have been able to experiment with new concepts of man and society. Monte Verità and the Magic Mountain, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Zarathustra, have helped make us who we are today. At a time when individuals and societies are going through a new existential crisis, when the very foundations of our way of inhabiting the world are being called into question, the Beatrice Trussardi Foundation is looking back at this rich tradition by launching a wide-ranging exploration of Alpine visions and utopias of the past and present that can help us reimagine our future. The project stems from a first provocation paper by Giuliano da Empoli and will bring together an unusual community of thinkers, artists and innovators.