Commentary Alex Mayenfisch

Alex Mayenfisch received the main ideas and artistic impulses for his video work from an educational stay in the US: ‘By chance, I discovered video works by Brian Eno in an art gallery in San Francisco. I had never seen anything like it! There were three or four screens in a rather large format. On them were – if I remember correctly – art videos or creative videos rather than simply music videos: static images of New York at night, the colours were altered, and set to a soundtrack by Brian Eno. The whole thing seemed to me like pictures in audiovisual form – fascinating!’

Back in Lausanne Alex Mayenfisch and his friends began to experiment with video: ‘During the Christmas vacation, we had the chance to use the studio at the art academy for ten days. Yves Kropf, Antoine Jaccoud, and I took over the premises without knowing what we would film. We simply wanted to do something in the spirit of Bob Wilson. As soon as we were able to move into the studio, we just got going. We gathered images, objects, and other props and made up little stories. We created more than a dozen “shorts” in this way – our Primeurs!’ (see Alex Mayenfisch, Video 11.35: Our first production Primeurs).

After founding the video collective Climage the whole group turned more and more to new creative forms of TV documentary. To this day, they continue to produce unconventional documentations/reportages about living conditions in Switzerland, a small but very diverse country in the middle of Europe, with four languages and a high percentage of immigrants. Have a look at La conquête du temps libre (in French), a TV-collage about how Switzerland turned from a zealous work ethic to a so-called leisure society.

Wishing you an inspiring viewing session,

Heinz Nigg

In the 1970s and 1980s, young activists discovered video as a new medium and used moving images in their struggle for access to cultural expression for the many, not the few. They were researching and developing new forms of independent and participatory media work. This was an important step towards realizing the utopian promises of the digital age.