born in 1958 in Basel. Lives and works in Basel and Zurich

Susanna Niederer

Cloches - Jardin des Roses (Bells - Rose Garden) (detail)
Susanna Niederer describes her work as an attempt to bring together writing, music and image in a visual form, in other words, to combine three instituted systems with their own rules; three ways of addressing the other. The primary motivation of language - whatever its form; writing, music, image - is the concern to reach the other, a desire to overcome the distance between the self and others. Working on all three means playing on the discrepancies between them. These are manifest in Niederer's work in the exclusive use of the ellipse. Ellipse comes from the Greek word ekleipsis, which means lack. The figure of the ellipse is thus both something visible, a distinct mathematical form, and an omission, a silence. This paradoxical presence is conducive to evocation, to passages, to the disappearance of form benefiting a process of apparition, as if it ceased to be a figure to become a ground for an emerging form. Organised into sequences, Niederer's ellipses visually evoke a musical rhythm. Dietmar Wiesner, a founding member of the Ensemble Moderne in Frankfurt, took one of her works, Requiem Variations (unfinished), as the basis for a musical piece, Requiem Variations 5 (unfinished), which he performed in 1997 in the Wiesbaden Museum.

the work for Enghien:
The paradoxical character of Niederer's works is evident in her bronze bells, which are silence and sound, which are musical potentiality. For, on the one hand they do not look like ordinary bells (their elliptical form with a discreet line pierced lengthways, does not impose this idea on the gaze) and, on the other, they are waiting to be activated and made sonorous by someone touching them. No doubt such a person would at first strike hesitantly then, if their desire were confirmed, they could improvise a little concert making chords from a few notes (C, E, G. C). The bells are awaiting something, and while their arrangement proposes a melody (striking them from left to right, one obtains a crescendo: C, E, G, C, C, E, G, C, C), the game calls for variations and each person is free to try other chords.

Susanna Niederer
document of work

Susanna Niederer
Cloches - Jardin des Roses (détail), 1998,
ten bronze bells hanging from the gates of the rose garden, near the casino
(photography Q.Bertoux)