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Herrenzimmer (1977 – 1979)
Heidi Bucher remains best known for objects involving latex created in the last two decades of her life. Educated at the School for the Applied Arts in Zurich, the artist left Switzerland in 1969 with her husband Carl and two sons, travelling first to Canada, then to the United States. Following her return to Switzerland in 1973, she separated from her husband and established her own studio in the basement of a former butcher shop in Zurich. It was there that, in 1976, she created Borg, the first of her Häutungen, or ‘skinnings’, taking a latex cast of the entrance door and wall to the butcher shop’s refrigeration room.
Herrenzimmer, on display in MUZEUM SUSCH, marks Bucher’s first large Raumhaut, or ‘room skin’. Sheets of gauze, covered in layers of latex and painted with mother-of-pearl, were peeled off producing a negative of the interior of the ‘gentlemen’s study’ at the house of the artist’s parents in Winterthur. Bucher thus described the painstaking process of a ‘skinning’: ‘We paste the rooms and then listen. We observe the surface and coat it. We wrap and unwrap. The lived, the past, become entangled in the cloth and remains fixed there. Slowly we loosen the layers of rubber, the skin, and drag yesterday into today’.
Bucher’s highly personal ‘room skins’ are paradoxical works: being both instances of frozen time as well as frail and brittle objects ready to crumble away to nothing. They can be seen to speak as much about preserving and presenting as about re-working and shedding, leaving things behind and breaking the mould.
© Studio Stefano Graziani