St Moritz Art Masters 2013

Art Summit in Switzerland. Interview with Reiner Opoku, curator of St Moritz Art Masters

Steve Mc Curry will present a workshop at this year's St. Moritz Art Masters (Image: A young monk runs along the wall over his peers - Shaolin Monastery, Hunan Province, China, 2004; © Steve McCurry Photo:

The St. Moritz Art Masters will take place for the 6th time this summer against the backdrop of the unique scenery of St. Moritz and the Engadin (from 23 August to 1 September 2013). For many generations, the region has been a meeting place of art enthusiasts – the event takes up this tradition and stands for a combination of strong local ties and international exchange. In 2013, the St. Moritz Art Masters present a comprehensive programme with artist talks, workshops and many other events. This year’s country focus will be on China, and it will bring far eastern art to the Engadin Mountains.

St. Moritz Art Masters will encounter young talents from China, aswell as present two of the country’s most renowend contemporary artists: Ai Weiwei and painter Fang Lijun. For artsation, the Head Curator Reiner Opoku gives an outlook for the upcoming event.

artsation: This year's St. Moritz Art Masters is all about Chinese artists. The Chinese art scene has become rather large and diverse. Which focus did you choose in selecting the participating artists?

Reiner Opoku: We present a broad spectrum of the Chinese art scene. We show young and upcoming artists as well as established artists known all over the world such as Ai Weiwei, Sue-Mei Tse, Shao Fan or Fang Lijun. We are very happy to have the collector Uli Sigg as our curator, who will curate a selection of his amazing collection of contemporary Chinese art.

Lichtkunst des chinesischen Künstlers Su Mei-Tse: Dong, Xi, Nan, Bei (East東, West西, South 南, North 北) (2006) © Su Mei-Tse © St. Moritz Art Masters

Which tried and tested curatorial elements from earlier years will reappear, what is new in the selection of artists? How regional as opposed to national and international is this year's edition?

Last year our thematic focus was on Brazil. This year we show art from China. In 2014, the Indian art scene will be in the centre of the festival. The Swiss artist Kerim Seiler will expand the roof of the Crystal Hotel for the St. Moritz Art Masters foundation for the second time. Kerim Seiler built his project “Relay (Situationist Space Program) already in 2012. His installation works not only as a work of art, but also as a studio space. This year, the stipendiaries Gerald Machona from South Africa and Li Li from China will use the installation as a studio. This project demonstrates how well national and international art can work together.

Ai Weiwei: Iron Tree (2013) © Ai Weiwei © St. Moritz Art Masters 2013

The St. Moritz Art Academy debuts this year. Beside the photography workshop the Academy is a further interactive item on the agenda. What is the idea behind it?

The SMAA is a charitable Swiss foundation based in St. Moritz offering selected art workshops and courses on a high level. The courses take place at least twice each year in spring and late summer. The aim of the foundation is to promote education and advanced training in fine arts. Everybody interested in art has the possibility to directly communicate with outstanding personalities from the international art scene. Students of the St. Moritz Art Academy have the chance to carry the special spirit of the environment into their artistic work. Students of the 2013 St. Moritz Art Masters will work with Donald Baechler, Andreas Kopp and Kerim Seiler.

The St. Moritz Art Masters is a rather young event. Is it already present in the mind of international art fans? Is it possible to discern any kind of development or learning effect, is there feedback from returning visitors?

The St. Moritz Art Masters have an established place in the art calendar. Our visitors come from Switzerland, but also from abroad. The St. Moritz Art Masters offer the perfect opportunity to visit the Engadin from Sils-Maria to St. Moritz, Zuoz to the Unterengading and explore art and nature.

Sébastien de Ganay: Sean; 2010 © Sébastien de Ganay

You were able to get Hans Ulrich Obrist and Beatrix Ruf on board to direct the symposium. The title - “Ghosts and the Uncanny” piques my curiosity! What will it be about, could you tell us the general direction this symposium is going to take?

We integrated the platform E.A.T. into the event, and are always looking to incorporate other structures such as the St. Moritz Art Academy. This year's art and architecture symposium Engadin Art Talks /E.A.T deals with the mountains and their uncanny inhabitants and the sagas and stories that sprung from them, firing the imagination and creativity of the invited participants. The panels are directed by Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director for exhibitions and programs and director for international projects at the Serpentine Gallery London, Beatrix Ruf, director of the Kunsthalle Zürich and Philip Ursprung, professor at the ETH Zürich. The participants are:
Elisabeth Bronfen, Iso Camartin, Kurt Derungs, Dan Graham, Zvi Hecker, Antony Hegarty, Christian Holstad, Bethan Huws, Tim Krohn, Jonathan Ledgard, Ernesto Neto, Katrin Sigurdardóttir, Michael Steiner, Not Vital.

What is the special appeal of the St. Moritz Art Masters? One could say that going to the Berlin Art Week is simpler and the choice bigger!

The Berlin Art Week is in Berlin, a large city. The St. Moritz Art Masters offer an art experience in the Swiss Mountains at extraordinary locations. The presentation of art in nature and in the eclectic villages of the Engadin region is unique. The works of art have an entirely different effect when placed into special locations, a fact that certainly contributes to the charm of the St. Moritz Art Masters.

Wang Haichuan: Series # 4 © Wang Haichuan