May 10 2023 - May 10 2025
Featuring works by Mary Manning, Helen Mirra, Jenna Sutela, Vivian Suter, T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss
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This May, Swiss Institute launches Spora, a curatorial initiative centered in SI’s institutional imperative to integrate environmental consciousness and climate action into all facets of the institution. Like spores spreading throughout the physical structure of our building and permeating the immaterial processes of SI, Spora is an experiment that explores what a practice of environmental institutional critique could be.
Unfolding and growing over the course of the next several years, the initial artworks in the project will be on long-term view in the non-gallery spaces of SI. In the stairways, hallways, roof, and other interstitial spaces, artists have contributed to the daily life, maintenance and functioning of the building with artworks that take shape through compost, plants, wall paint, public space and more. These include Jenna Sutela’s earth battery-powered oracle, Vivian Suter’s weather-exposed mural, Helen Mirra’s chance-determined background painting, T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss’s sonic recordings of mycelium, and Mary Manning’s photographs merging private and public, natural and urban spaces.
The artworks at the core of Spora are accompanied by the institution’s initial steps towards climate action, begun in 2022, which take form as a thorough analysis of SI’s carbon emissions through transport, travel, energy, and other ecological and social factors, and a plan of actions developed with the entire SI team for reducing the institution’s environmental impact. SI will publish and share this process with the hopes to sprout inspiration and collaboration across institutional boundaries. Spora is conceived as an open-ended approach, which acknowledges that this is a continuous project that will generate more questions than answers. It is an attempt to germinate change while acknowledging context and limitations, with the understanding that this process is imperfect but urgent.
Spora and the accompanying event series, These Seasons, as well as the institutional initiatives of climate action, propose a start to a morphing process of reflection and transformation.
Spora is made possible by Teiger Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Consulate General of Finland in New York City. The project is organized by Stefanie Hessler, Director, and Alison Coplan, Senior Curator and Head of Programs.
SI Programming is made possible in part with public funds from Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council; the New York State Council on the Arts, with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Main sponsors include LUMA Foundation, Friends of SI and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Exhibitions are made possible in part by the SI Artist Vision Fund with leadership support provided by the SI Board of Trustees, Ghislaine Brenninkmeijer, the Kevin Wendle Foundation, and the Freedman Family Foundation. SI gratefully acknowledges Swiss Re as SI ONSITE Partner, Vitra as Design Partner, Crozier Fine Arts as Preferred Shipping Art Logistics Partner, and SWISS as Travel Partner.
Critical operating support has been provided to SI in 2020-23 as part of a collective fundraising effort with a consortium of New York non-profit institutions. We thank the following supporters: Mellon Foundation, Teiger Foundation, The Willem de Kooning Foundation, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Cy Twombly Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Destina Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, The Arison Arts Foundation, The Fox Aarons Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Sotheby’s, Blavatnik Family Foundation, Robert Lehman Foundation, The Jill and Peter Kraus Foundation, Imperfect Family Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation, and The Jay Defeo Foundation.
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Image Credit: Vivian Suter, detail of Untitled (Mural), 2023.