Soft Skills | Zurich Art March

Mar 04 – Apr 24, 2022

Sommer Salon Zurich presents “Soft Skills”, a group exhibition that brings together six female artists, who deal with the body as a site for identity struggles and commodification but also for sensuality and desire.  Art has long used the human body to express universal themes – from spiritual beliefs to love and passion, from identity issues to a sense of our own mortality. In altering the body, hair, clothing etc. we rebel against or align with social conventions and constructs.

The title of the exhibition refers to the works sensitivity towards their social contexts and their questions about gender, power relations and concepts of identity. Soft Skills are personality traits that characterize one’s relationships in a social environment. Harder to grasp than hard facts they are equally important in determining our relationships and the way we engage with one another. Intimacy, closeness and real presences are only a few of the themes tackled in the exhibition, that brings together works by different generations of artists and in a variety of media.

Nina Beier for example, produces theatrical still-life settings in which the body is presented as a carrier of impossible promises and unfulfilled expectations. She explores the interrelations of sexuality, power and language with humor and sharpness. Made from everyday mass produced items, her sculptures reveal an almost psychological life of their own. They deal with the politics of the commodified and trembling body by showing its violations, revealing the enormous pressure for self-optimization and performance anxiety.

Yael Bartana presents a new work, that is a subtle nod to the iconic American painter Georgia O`Keeffe. In „The Cross-dressers“ Bartana places the image of a lily into a photograph of Duchamps famous fountain readymade. The sculpture was originally photographed by Alfred Stieglitz, O´Keeffes husband. The flower and the fountain appear as replacements for the Duchamp and O´Keeffe, both crossdressers at the time, who played with gender doubling and role rehearsal.

At the age of 92, Marion Baruch and her work are finally being rediscovered for their true significance. Her fabric sculptures introduce a dialogue between two immaterial forces: space and memory. She uses waste as a potential object, emptiness as a shape of potential, and mediation as an act of creation. In this way, Baruch addresses themes related to the body, sustainability and consumerism.

Anna Perach‘s sculptures are made of fabric and textile. She has developed a practice centered on creating wearable sculptures via a carpet-making technique. During her exhibitions, live performances are held, featuring performers who wear and embody the sculptures with ritualistic choreography. Influenced by her own personal experience of immigration from Be’er Sheva (Israel) to Ukraine, Perach chooses her craft as a culturally charged pursuit. When wearing Perach’s tufted sculptures, they form a link to the diverse folkloristic legacies that have greatly influenced their ornamentations.

During lockdown, Michal Helfman found herself deeply longing for her closest girlfriends. In an effort to bring them closer, the artist recreated their likeness in a series of drawings, which she titled ‘Lockdown Ladies.’ By using her bare hands on each sheet of paper, Helfman was able to ‘touch’ each friend and bring to life a physical surrogate in her likeness. Each woman is depicted with an everyday domestic object as a way of not only being presented in her natural environment, but also to further emphasize the intimacy that accompanies casual indoors interactions with loved ones. By choosing to use oil pastel, a medium Helfman labels as ‘rebellious’, each mark on the paper is permanent and cannot be erased, lending permanence and confidence to the artist’s relationship with each woman.

Omer Halperin’s unique black & white charcoal drawings of figures immediately evoke the sense that something is not quite right, yet the portrayed individuals who blurry the line between male and female, stoically do not reveal a thing. There is a playing of faces and hands, of hair and of the cloudlike stroke of charcoal, with its intimations of moodiness and vaporousness. Yet Halperin achieves a sense of intimacy and estrangement that is irreducible to voyeurism and manages to sustain the interiority and mystery of her depicted subjects.

Opening hours during Zurich Art March:

Fri, March 04, 11:00 – 21:00
Sat, March 05, 11:00 – 21:00
Sun, March 06, 11:00 – 19:00

On view until April 24th, 2022 by appointment.