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Switzerland

When Contemporary Art Lands In A Highway Rest Stop

In Switzerland, a provocatively mundane location for top avant-garde art. But can you find something more important than a full tank of gas?

Some 30 works of art have been installed inside the rest stop
Some 30 works of art have been installed inside the rest stop
Jill Gasparina

MARTIGNY — There may be no location seemingly less appropriate for an art exhibition than a highway rest stop. Visitors are often in a hurry and far from the state of mind that an encounter with works of art requires. As for the spaces themselves, they're a long way from the large and enclosed white cubes we usually find in museums.

And yet, the decision to organize the fourth edition of the Valais contemporary art exhibition La Triennale at the rest stop Saint-Bernard, is far from absurd. First of all because the gas station has long been an object of interest for artists, since the 1960s. Second, because the American mythology around roads has a particular echo in the Swiss canton of Valais. And finally, because a rest stop is an excellent metaphor for a cultural world that's increasingly in pursuit of events such as biennials, triennials and the like, which wind up visited at the speed of light.

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