Das Werk Saxeten

Starting point, UNIS, University of Bern
FSC certified Larchwood for the growing sculpture
Interior cabin

“Saxeten. A growing sculpture” is a research project about the extended potential of public art that has a viable future. It defines art as a socially relevant practice that develops and implements specific thought processes, skills and procedures. It is emphatically based on a process-oriented approach.

Saxeten – a growing sculpture was moved from the University of Bern to one of the Canton’s financially weakest communities, the small village of Saxeten (120 inhabitants). Located on a steep south-easterly slope in the heart of the Bernese Alps tourist area, it is nevertheless off the beaten track. The village architecture has therefore remained virtually intact. The infrastructure now consists only of a restaurant / hotel as the village school, shop and post office were closed in 2002.

The project consists of three parts, i.e. a footbridge, a cabin and photographs displayed at the University of Bern’s UniS building.

The 19-metre bridge has a dual purpose: it is a bridge that restores the hiking trail across the Saxetbach that was damaged by the floods of summer 2005. It is also a symbolic act of crossing boundaries and stands for communication between city and country, between centre and periphery.

The 16-sqm cabin is situated on the Saxeten hiking trail. Anyone may use it to rest, to think or meditate, irrespective of their background or views. This lends the space another, higher significance. It embraces the world symbolically, invites visitors to the mountain valley of Saxeten and promotes sustainable, ‘gentle’ tourism. From the cabin there are sweeping views to the north, beyond the valley, to the south into the valley, and towards the Alps.It is a motif from landscape painting, a quote, and yet tangibly real at the same time.

Photographs at the University of Bern, UniS
The third part is a display of photographs from Saxeten next to every door in the UniS building of the University of Bern.

The larch timber for Saxeten – a growing sculpture comes from woodland owned by the Canton of Bern. In 1820 Karl Albrecht Kasthofer (1777-1853, forestry engineer, governing councillor of Bern and pioneer of sustainable forestry management) sowed the larches in the now FSC-certified forest on Kleiner Rugen near Interlaken. The trees were felled under the auspicious moon of 15 / 16 December 2004.

Saxeten (2002-2006)