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Home! Sweet Home! (Un)inviting homes in art on view at Kunstmuseum St.Gallen
Pieter Jansz Quast (1606-1647), Die Steinoperation, um 1630. Öl auf Kupfer, 19,5 x 28,5 cm. Kunstmuseum St.Gallen. Schenkung Annette Bühler 2004.

ST. GALLEN.- Inviting, cosy and safe or sinister and constricting? Through significant works of art from various periods, the exhibition Home! Sweet Home! at the Kunstmuseum St.Gallen questions the idea of domestic security within our own four walls and the very concept of “home sweet home”.

No doubt everyone has seen the wonderfully kitschy embroideries with a lovingly illustrated house and the obligatory adage Home Sweet Home. Very few, however, are aware that the much-quoted line stems from an opera, namely Clari, Maid of Milan by the playwright John Howard Payne (1791-1851), which premiered in London’s Covent Garden in 1823. No other line from a song has been so readily embraced by colloquial language as this one, referring to that self-same home sweet home: mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

The exhibition starts from a historical perspective with first-rate paintings and graphic artworks by old masters illustrating agricultural and bourgeois scenes showing merry and occasionally amorous goings-on, while the contemporary art then radically redefines the traditional idea of home.

Prime examples include the oppressive video work of Israeli artist Keren Cytter (*1977) and lan Anüll’s (*1948) NZS (Notschlafstelle Zürich): “there is no place like home”.

Christoph Büchel: The House of Friction (Pumpwerk Heimat)
in the Lokremise water tower

Within the scope of the Home! Sweet Home! exhibition, the Kunstmuseum will be showing the work House of Friction by St.Gallen artist Christoph Büchel in the Lokremise water tower. In line with the theme “(Un)inviting homes in art”, Büchel’s installations are frequently physically and psychologically challenging for visitors. Narrow, claustrophobic spaces or intensively cold environments contradict the concept of safety, protection and security that we so readily associate with our own four walls.

The installation in the water tower explicitly addresses the artist’s St.Gallen roots, as indeed conveyed by the subtitle Pumpwerk Heimat. The work focuses on Büchel’s childhood memories of visiting his grandmother in Rheintal, which he reveals through meticulous insights into Eastern Swiss sensitivities.

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