This book by Swiss artist Séverin Guelpa presents a decade of innovative artistic engagement on several continents. Structured around three- to four-weeks immersions and exhibitions, the MATZA artistic manifesto he founded in 2014 transcends borders, exploring extreme natural and urban territories around the world. Founded on the conviction that artists are crucial players in understanding contemporary challenges, MATZA tackles environmental, social and political issues in equal measure, stimulating the idea of a collective intelligence built up over the course of projects, between artists, scientists and local residents.
In almost 10 years, MATZA has taken on nine sites on 4 continents, from the Mojave desert (USA) to the Swiss glaciers, each time bringing together communities of artists and scientists. Projects such as MATZA Amboy, MATZA Aletsch and MATZA Kerkennah have explored crucial issues such as drought, melting glaciers and the depletion of marine resources. MATZA never simply observes; it immerses itself physically and collectively, seeking to radically rethink our relationship with nature, with each other and with the world around us. The matze, taken from a vernacular tradition in the Upper THE DESERT, THE GLACIER AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE MATZA, 10 years of field research, experimentation and collective art investigation.
Valais (Switzerland), symbolizes communal and democratic commitment. Echoing this tradition, MATZA emerges as a contemporary response to urgent social change. Séverin Guelpa’s artistic exploration is rooted in a desire to rethink ways of living together, reflecting the aspirations of a society in the throes of change. The project began in Amboy, California, where Guelpa is carrying out the initial stages of the project. After several stages on glaciers, MATZA expanded its scope to urban contexts such as Meyrin and Lausanne in Switzerland, as well as international metropolises like Medellín and Cúcuta in Colombia. In partnership with the Edgelands Institute, MATZA has been looking at the complex dynamics of urban centers since 2022, now exploring the implications of digitization and security on the social contract between city dwellers.
The book THE DESERT, THE GLACIER AND THE SUPERSTRUCTURE retraces in images the three major stages of the project carried out between the Mojave Desert in the USA, the Aletsch Glacier in the Swiss Alps and three urban construction sites between 2014 and 2021. The book places great emphasis on the images, whose graphic treatment and choice of paper on which they are printed are adapted to each stage. The three parts of the book are each accompanied by a text by Guelpa and punctuated by contributions from curators, experts and critics who have accompanied the artist throughout his work. They include artist and researcher Mathilde Chenin (FR), curators Bill Fox (USA), Olivier Kaeser (CH), Simon Lamunière (CH) and Dorothea Strauss (CH), art historian and architectural critic Marc Frochaux and university professor and sustainability specialist Marco Janssen (USA).