This Thursday is one of the biggest nights for contemporary art in Geneva. Nuit des Bains happens three times per year, and this night signifies the start of the contemporary art season. With 16 art galleries and museums participating, Quartier des Bains is transformed into a giant street party offering one vernissage after another, and the best part is that everything is free and open to the public.
Most people could happily spend the entire evening at Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCO) and the neighbouring Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève (the Centre). Both offer free entry during Nuit des Bains, along with courtyard entertainment and a sense of general merriment. Thursday is the opening night of the spectacular Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement (BIM), produced by the Centre’s director, Andrea Bellini, in collaboration with Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator and co-director of the Serpentine Gallery in London, and Yann Chateigné, head of the visual arts department at HEAD, Geneva.
Founded in 1985 and formerly known as “International Video Week,” BIM is well known for showcasing the very best in video art. This year’s show features 22 new commissions from cutting-edge artists, including weekend-long screenings, performances and discussions. BIM runs in Geneva until 23 November before travelling to institutional partners in Tasmania, Shanghai and Paris.
Another must-see is Won’t Back Down, a mixed media artists group show represented by Skopia Gallery. Skopia, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, offers a year-round exhibitions programme of consistently high quality and Won’t Back Down is no exception.
Across the street from Skopia is newcomer Galerie Laurence Bernard with its inaugural exhibition, ANTRE (Lair) by Les Frères Chapuisat. The Chapuisat Brothers use Geneva as a base while constructing their immersive site-specific installations around the world. These woodworked wonders demand active participation and function as playful rites of initiation. Brave-hearted viewers are invited to enter the installations, often in compromising circumstances, without knowing what happens next.
In this case, what happens next is ten tonnes of wet clay.
By transforming the white cube of the gallery into a grotto of entangled plywood slats, the artists aim to create “an adventure that generates the forgotten sensations of dreams that blend curiosity, surprise and discomfort”. A sense of humour and willingness to get dirty are essential.
The next Nuits des Bains will take place in March and May 2015.
Stephanie Twiggs is an arts writer and reviewer living in Geneva