Bloch – a round-the-world trip of an tree trunk from Appenzell
Become a member of the International Bloch Society
To support and finance our global art project BLOCH, we founded the International Bloch Society (IBG). You can join the society, by paying just CHF 10. Your contribution of between CHF 10 and CHF 12,000 allows members of IBG to travel the world, enabling exchange between people, traditions and customs from a variety of different cultural backgrounds.
BLOCH is the last felled spruce tree of the winter. To signal the end of Fastnacht - a Swiss festival that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring - BLOCH is dragged by 20 men from the village of Urnäsch to the village of Herisau in the Swiss canton of Appenzell and then back. At the end of this day-long procession BLOCH is sold at auction, an event followed by celebrations. Typically BLOCH is bought at auction by someone living locally who then makes roofing shingles or furniture out of it. This was not the case in 2011 when the Swiss Art Duo Com&Com bought BLOCH No. 23781. They’re intention was not to make shingles out of it nor was it to drag it between two villages. This time BLOCH will go on an extended journey, around the world!
Ideas and Objectives
The main objective is to take BLOCH around the world and visit each continent at least once. We will stage a new BLOCH procession at every station of our journey. These processions will be developed in collaboration with local artists and will adapt to local traditions and customs. What we are proposing is not an imperialistic act, a tightly defined and unchangeable tradition that is then enacted around the world. Rather, it is simply a truncated tree, a symbol and starting point for new directions and forms of interaction. The original custom and its meaning will change and develop in dialogue with the cultures and people it encounters, it will blend in and cause new meanings to be interpreted.
Something totally new and different will originate from every station. At the end of the project the BLOCH will return to its home in Urnäsch, in the canton of Appenzell, Switzerland.
Theory and Realization
In keeping with the original custom, BLOCH will be presented in art performances that follow the concept of a procession that culminates in a celebration. In addition to the procession we will schedule theoretical events such as talks and symposia to contextualise the processions and reflect on BLOCH as a ritual as well as the idea of transporting and transforming traditions in general. These additional events will act as starting points for further discussions, give interpretation and create stories. Different cultures create understanding through cultural participation, exchange and collaboration. We want to initiate a dialogue between contemporary art and the different traditions of folk cultures.
Our goal is for BLOCH to visit each continent at least once. Whether it will be dragged by hand or not during each procession is secondary but would be a nice reminiscence. Longer distances will be travelled by modern transportation (truck, boat etc.) anyways. This is what our itinerary currently looks like: Spring 2012: Berlin, Germany. Summer 2012: Krakow and Lublin, Poland. Fall 2012: China.
Along with the procession and making a movie the intermediation and the direct contact with locals at each station will form a crucial part of this project. Workshops, presentations and exhibitions as well as public celebrations are planned. In addition we carry a traditional game on to the next station. (That’s how we want to teach «Jassen» to African or Chinese people while we learn how to play their games.) We will document the project using film although the performances and actual contact with people at each stage will be most crucial part of the project. We plan to organise exhibitions, workshops, presentations as well as public celebrations. Lastly, we will take the Swiss game Jassen with us and teach it to the people we encounter, we dearly hope to learn their games too!
Work and Media
Our main object is that BLOCH, a truncated tree loaded with symbolic meaning further emphasised by its journey. In addition, we will produce short-films, each one 15 minutes long that document each procession. These short-films will record every visit BLOCH makes to another country and the celebrations, discussions and reflections it entails. In the end we make a documentary film out of all the material collected in the short-films as well as from additional material shot along with it. Actual artworks will be prints and a cast of BLOCH itself. The project will be accompanied by a Website/Blog where updates, background information, pictures and videos of Bloch’s progress will be published. The project will end with a documentary, a publication and a final event (intervention or exhibition).
- Projectmanagement: Com&Com (Marcus Gossolt, Johannes M. Hedinger), St.Gallen/Zürich
- Advisory Board: Simon Grand (research), Herbie Pfortmüller (law), Thomas Zacharias (construction, Berlin), Li Zhenghua (China), Bernhard Bischoff (Bern)
- Production: Felix Lehner, Tim Koch, Jiajia Zhang (alle Kunstgiesserei), Urban Stoob (Print), Nicolas Brivio (Graphic)
- Film: Fabian Kaiser (camera, edit), Axel Kirchhoff (camera), Remi Blaser (sound)
- Website: Mitch Bekk
- Assistant: Gloria Weiss, Theres Inauen (Urnäsch)
- Partner: Kunstgiesserei St. Gallen, Stoob Steindruck, Galerie Bernhard Bischoff Bern, Denkerei Bazon Brock Berlin
Budget and Funding
The entire project includes taking BLOCH around the world with 2 tons of cargo, in addition to all the processions, symposia, videos, etc. This will cost a lot of money. More than we will be able to fund through this call for support. For visiting 5 stations and all the basic material we need about CHF 200,000. We hope that through this call for support we will be able to fund the first CHF 20,000. With this money we will be able to purchase some basic equipment and parts of our first trip to Berlin, Germany. We expect an average cost of CHF 25,000 – 30,000 per station, so we will additionally ask foundations, sponsors and donators for their support. So far, BLOCH has been supported by: Pro Helvetia, Migros Kulturprozent Ostschweiz, Kulturstiftung Appenzell AR, Methrom Stiftung and Steinegg Stiftung.
- 12.4. – 21.4.2012: BLOCH exhibition Stadtgalerie/PROGR in Berne, Switzerland
- 21.4.2012: BLOCH-Aktion in Berne (PROGR), Switzerland
- 2.6.2012: BLOCH-Aktion in Berlin, Germany (with Bazon Brock at Denkerei)
- 11.-17.6.2012: BLOCH in Basel at Swiss Art Awards/Art Basel, Switzerland
- 19.7.2012: BLOCH-Aktion in Karlsruhe, Germany (ZKM/HfG)
- August 2012: BLOCH-Aktion in Poland (Krakau/Lublin)
- Oktober 2012: BLOCH-Aktion in China (Shanghai)