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Christoph Büchel (born 1966) is a Swiss artist, based since 2007 in Iceland.
Christoph Büchel was born in Basel, Switzerland, in 1966. His wife and son are Icelandic, and since 2007 he has been based in Iceland. Büchel creates hyper-realistic environments that create the experience of walking into a mind at work. His detailed installations are three-dimensional renderings of interior spaces and/or situations that often convey extreme psychological mindsets, such as that of a survivalist, a homeless person, or an agoraphobe. These fictitious yet highly believable environments – rooms within rooms – are carefully constructed so that the institutional framework of the art museum and all reference to the gallery context are removed.
A complexity is found in the elaborate detail the artist develops for each project, an artistic sensibility that allows layers of social and political commentary to permeate within a uniquely contemplative space. Büchel locates contradictions and social inequities in the ideological forces dominating society today (global capitalism, unprincipled consumption, religious conservatism, American hegemony) and finds a way through his work to satirize, demystify, and resist these forces by revealing them as constructed realities subject to change.
2015 Venice Biennale
For the 2015 Venice Biennale, Christoph Büchel submitted as part of Iceland's national pavilion The Mosque: The First Mosque in the Historic City of Venice, partly inspired by disputes in Iceland over building the first purpose-built Reykjavík Mosque. The work, which opened on May 8th, 2015 was shut down by Venetian authorities on May 22nd, 2015, citing security concerns by both Islamist and anti-Islamist groups, as well as a lack of proper permits.
The installation was a conceptual work of art which transformed a 10th-century Catholic church into a generic mosque.
Critics of the Venetian Authorities claim that the proffered reasons for shuttering the mosque were pretextual and insufficiently grave to justify closure of the work.
- York Underwood, 'Life Imitating Art: Iceland’s “Mosque” Installation In Venice', The Reykjavík Grapevine (June 6, 2015), https://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2015/06/06/life-imitating-art-icelands-mosque-installation-in-venice/.
- York Underwood, 'Life Imitating Art: Iceland’s “Mosque” Installation In Venice', The Reykjavík Grapevine (June 6, 2015), https://grapevine.is/mag/articles/2015/06/06/life-imitating-art-icelands-mosque-installation-in-venice/,
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