Commentary Sus Zwick

The few women in the Video Cooperative Basel (Videogenossenschaft) devoted themselves to video art as well as to community video practice. One of them, Sus Zwick, created Der Rest ist Risiko, a fascinating video documentary about political resistance following the 1986 chemical disaster of Basel/Schweizerhalle. She not only showed political actions, hearings, art and poster interventions, that expressed how anxious and voiceless the public felt at the time, but she did this from her perspective as a mother with a young child. (see Sus Zwick, Video 22.58: The rest is a risk / Video on an environmental catastrophe in Schweizerhalle)

In Babette the artistic side of Sus Zwick comes to the foreground. In cooperation with Fränzi Madörin and Muda Mathis she made a powerful collage of images, conversations, poems, and music about Babette Zaugg, an NGO peace activist who talks about her experiences in a war zone. The video juxtaposes war and art, fiction and documentary, facts and fantasy.

In the interview with Sus Zwick she talks about how she discovered new creative methods in video making. She was a member of a famous video school in Basel that enabled its students to experiment freely with sight and sound:

‘We mostly worked in teams. Video was great because you couldn’t do it alone. Pipilotti Rist and Muda Matthis, who had already made other things together, were very experimental. Käthe Walser was as well. This was an inspiring atmosphere. We moved the camera, edited in a new way, coloring images and working with signal interferences, that’s how we savoured the medium. We taught the technology to each other: handling the equipment, operating the camera, and the editing’. (see Sus Zwick, Video 18.31: Admission to the Video Programme by René Pulfer, Art School Basel)

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.