a word a day to be wiped away, 2012-2018
Installation in: République Géniale, Kunstmuseum Bern, 2018. Curated by: Kathleen Bühler.

The installation consists of a space 20 x 6 x 3.8 m with a walldrawing 3.80 x 17.35 m of more than 220 words, many cleaning rags, 2 brooms mounted on a grid, 4 wiper-machines connected to motion detectors, 3 wooden panels with the following words to delete: EVALUATION, HUMAN, RESOURCES, FRATERNITÉ, TALENT, 12 seats, 3 mirror-surfaces, a ‚Library of the Deleted Words’. Depending on where the work is shown, there are different words collected by different people to be wiped away. To some extent each place establishes its own words.

This is the conceptual constant: a collection of words to be erased from the vocabulary. Depending on where the project is carried out, there is a variable that we call: the contextual variable. Each place must define its own list of words.

For the Kunstmuseum Bern words were collected in collaboration with the curators and various other groupings (friends of RELAX from the Bern region; organisations devoted to care and services). The method of collecting words is not defined and there are no rules to follow. People are simply supposed to come together in conversation. This kind of exchange - whether between friends, colleagues or people who don’t know each other - makes it easier to establish words which are felt to be problematic for a great variety of reasons. Contributing organizations and institutes are asked to avoid polls, questionnaires to complete or to establish sociological surveys. The names of people, animals, places or companies are not collected. So far over 220 words in all have been donated. On their visit of the installation each person can erase a word per day and donate another one for a next project. The words erased daily in the Kunstmuseum Bern, as well as those from the earlier versions of the project since 2012 are on display in the ‘Library of Deleted Words’.

Visitors of the installation are addressed by a short text as follows: Dear visitor, you can use the seats which facilitate to read the words on the wall. If you discover a word which bothers you, just contact the the person in charge who will help you to delete it (one word per person per day is possible). If you want to donate a word to delete, please contact the same person. The word will be noted in a booklet (again one word per person per day is possible).

The collection of words comes from the following organizations: Altersheim Sonnhalde Burgdorf (Senior residency Sonnhalde Burgdorf), BETAX Genossenschaft Bern (BETAX Cooperative Bern, in charge of mobility for people hindered to use public transportation), SPITEX AemmePlus AG (care service at home), Wandern-fuer-alle, Informationsstelle für Ausländerinnen- und Ausländerfragen, Bern (Walks-for-all, information center in questions for foreigners, Bern) and Kunstmuseum Bern.

For their engaged implication in discussions RELAX warmly thanks: Esther Berchtold, Kathleen Bühler, Maria Renee Cano, Gökçe Ergün, Fredy Ehrler, Marianne Ehrler, Sarah Merten, Barbara Mosca, Jürg Stampfli, Ursina Weber.

Photos: Dominique Uldry, Bern