Speak, Lokal


Opening: Friday, March 3, 2017

The exhibition Speak, Lokal focuses on how artists worldwide investigate and broach local conditions. All sorts of artistic practices come into play, from activism to “archivism”, from photography to graphic novels, from documentaries to performances and research based communal efforts. Paradoxically, the restricted and highly connoted territory of the Local is perceived as a place of autonomy and liberation. It is a space where precision makes a difference to uncover discrepancies, where clairvoyance turns into relevance and passion into resistance. If Speak, Lokal is foremost an optimistic proposition, it does not gloss over the ambiguity of the Local as it neighbors on the territories of nationalism, provincialism, and commercialism – typified in the well-known slogan “Buy Local!”. It is only a small step from regionalism to homeland security and building walls, and "Buy Local!" becomes "Us first!". After all, the Local has been gone for a long time; today it is no more than a fiction or rather, a powerful phantasy. In fact, the Local is the expression of the all pervading and more fundamental question of belonging. For decades, this has seemed to be a question of progress, but within a few years, "belonging" has turned into a battlefield dominated by class, race, religion, and nation. As belonging is turning into exclusion ("You are not..."), the artists in the show at Kunsthalle Zürich present their alternative visions and languages, whether they are from Dhaka, New York, Dubai, or Zurich.

With Yuji Agematsu (New York), Sarnath Banerjee (Berlin/Delhi), FPBJPC (New York), Ramin Haerizadeh/Rokni Haerizadeh/Hesam Rahmanian (Dubai/Teheran), Chantal Kaufmann/Marc Hunziker/Rafal Skoczek (Zurich), Samsul Alam Helal (Dhaka), Nana Kipiani (Tbilisi), Maggie Lee (New York), Sally Schonfeldt (Zurich/Adelaide), Rafiqul Shuvo (Dhaka/Vienna), Ramaya Tegegne (Geneva), Theory Tuesdays / Philip Matesic (Zurich), Piotr Uklański (New York/Warsaw), Shirin Yousefi (Lausanne/Teheran)

Yuji Agematsu

What appears as debris and trash to some, is an ‘objet trouvé’ to the Japanese artist Yuji Agematsu. For years now, Agematsu has collected bits and pieces off the streets of New York, day after day after day. Chewing gum, cigarette butts, hair, chicken feet and other curiosities are just some of the items the artist finds on his daily expeditions. He arranges and archives his findings, turning them into small assemblages in the cellophane paper of his cigarette packs, one for every day of the year. The street debris is transformed into dystopian miniature worlds or small fish tanks without fish. The artist further records his collection patrol walks with the date, a time stamp and a description of the situation in which an object was found. The presented work 01-01-2014–12-31-2014 spans the collection of the year 2014. Agematsu’s daily work of collecting, documenting and archiving has the feel of compulsion, repetition and fascination, all at the same time. In the end, it is perhaps best described as a diary—the artist’s personal memory of the year 2014.
Yuji Agematsu was born in 1956 in Kanagawa, Japan. He moved to New York in 1980, where he lives and works.

Sarnath Banerjee

Sarnath Banerjee is viewed by many as the inventor of the Indian Graphic Novel. His first book Corridor generated wide enthusiasm for the genre in India. After moving to Berlin in 2011, Banerjee brought the book’s main character Brighu Sen back to life. He created seventeen episodes titled Enchanted Geographies, which were published by the English-language Indian daily newspaper The Hindu in 2013. Brighu Sen now meanders through Berlin. His descriptions range from everyday observations to introspections. He projects his personal memories into the people, places and situations he encounters. Coming from the Global South, the narrator observes life around him with a reverse-orientalist gaze. Banerjee undermines any Eurocentric ranking of places, and Kochi, São Paolo, Almora, or Kinshasa the same as Berlin.
Sarnath Banerjee was born in 1972 in Kolkata in India. He lives and works in Berlin.


FPBJPC is a secret society, a record label cum production unit cum structure for exhibitions, concerts and collaborations. FPBJPC has no home, although it’s said to be New York. Its name is composed of an acronym as well as its sublabels: 0dx, WA, FQW, and Edition Erich Schmid so it will grow longer and longer and certainly impossible to remember. For where two or three are gathered together in FPBJPC’s name, there it is in the middle of them. For Speak, Lokal, FPBJPC present a selection of LPs with sleeves designed by using stamps, fruits, and drawings. Releases so far include: Ben Schumacher / Jonathan Gean – Australia Courier Africa Schnitzel, Michael Pollard – Piano Sonata After a Conversation With Jonathan Gean, Lauren Burns-Coady and Ben Schumacher, Eric Schmid – Music Music, FPBJPC – FPBJPC, Eric Schmid – Scheiße Musik, Eric Schmid – Noise Ethics, The FPBJPC Quintet – The FPBJPC Quintet, Peter Friel – Fish N Chips, Stella Schanbel –
Work / Arbeit. Forthcoming releases include: Ben Schumacher, Eric Schmid: Chicago Vienna Acid; Corey Cleary, Eric Schmid, Jonathan Gean, Mattea Landry,
Peter Friel: House Music; Magic Weapon: EP; Paul Kont: Strohkoffer; Gerhard Lampersberg: Was Immer Auch Sei Berlin Bleibt Frei.

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian
often exhibit together and also create art together. The technique of the collage is central to their practice. Found material is copied, cut, mirrored and glued. Figures consequently bear eerily symmetrical faces, or double torsos and four legs. Human figures morph into animals or mythical creatures, or lose a head. The collage lends itself for artistic collaboration. One artist begins to work on a few pages before turning them over to the next, who adapts and reworks them. This was also the present case of the film From Sea to Dawn (2017). In this film, which is being premiered at Kunsthalle Zürich, all elements come together. The artists printed film still by film still of found footage from Youtube, before reassembling resulting collages into a stop motion film. The film is based on film footage of refugees crossing the Mediterranean Sea and trekking along the so-called Balkan route.
Rokni Haerizadeh, Ramin Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian are originally from Teheran. During a trip abroad they were warned by friends not to return to Iran. The three artists now live in Dubai in exile. 2017 they will exhibit in the pavilion of the United Arab Emirates at the Venice Biennial.

Marc Hunziker, Chantal Kaufmann, Rafal Skoczek

The artists Marc Hunziker, Chantal Kaufmann and Rafal Skoczek produce spaces and publics. They achieve this by creating zones that try to subvert hierarchic structures. Starting from the idea of the shack as an irregular space, where children and teenagers withdraw from adult authority and supervision, the artists continuously initiate the emancipation of spaces. Be it a treehouse without trees, which they constructed in an outskirt of Tbilisi in Georgia in 2016; or their self-organized space UP STATE in Zurich’s Kochareal; or the cellar space of Kunsthalle Zürich, the newest address for their traveling project POOL, which they use to finance further activities. Upstairs, the three artists show reconstructions of three central spaces to their art practice. The storage space of UP STATE, POOL, and the bar of Kunsthalle Zürich in the basement of Löwenbräu areal have been reconstructed at a scale of 1:2. As models, the three rooms are only placeholders, pointing to an existing network of people and rooms across the city of Zurich. As mere outer shells they demonstrate what it takes to make a space real—animation and interaction.
Marc Hunziker (1989, Zurich), Chantal Kaufmann (1984, Greppen) and Rafal Skoczek (1989, Bystrzyca Klodzka) live and work in Zurich.

Samsul Alam Helal

Samsul Alam Helal is a photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In contrast to mere fiction, Helal’s work represents reality in an alternate space. In Open Stage (2015), he portrayed people from the Dalit Community in Old Dhaka, seen as outsiders and of a lower caste, ever present in the streets, but “invisible” because of their work as cleaners. In Hijra (2011), Helal documented the transgender community of Hijra in the Shyampur slum in Dhaka. For Speak, Lokal, he photographed the series Runaway Lovers (2016), which offers a glimpse at inter-religious couples. In Bangladesh, people of two faiths are required to get married according to special laws. Sometimes one partner converts, leaving behind their own religion and religious community. Threats of murder, suicide, honor killings, and estrangement invariably follow these couples. But they brave it all out to be together. The runaway lovers are looking to live together, to love and coexist, thus setting an example for larger society.
Samsul Alam Helal, born 1985 in Dhaka, lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The production of the photographs was kindly supported by the Samdani Art Foundation and TRICOLOR Bild
Produktion, Zurich

Nana Kipiani

Nana Kipiani is a renowned Georgian art historian, professor, and activist. She is one of the leading scholars of Georgian Modernism. Together with a group of artists and art historians, she runs the NGO Arts International Research Laboratory (AIRL). For Speak, Lokal, Kipiani wrote JOurneYing dOnkEy (2017), an essay about how the motive of the donkey changes depending on time, space, and culture and stands for very different, even contradictory values and concepts. “The donkey does not obey any logical established structures” (Kipiani). He more often gets us on the wrong foot, and only exists as a local entity, worldwide. Translated into English by Tamara Janashia, edited by Leila Peacock .
Nana Kipiani lives and works in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Maggie Lee

The film Mommy (2015) is artist Maggie Lee’s homage to her deceased mother. She tells the awe-inspiring story of her mother and recounts her own adolescence as an Asian-American growing up in suburban New Jersey. The film covers unconditional mother love, the recklessness of youth, guilt, grief and sorrow. Maggie Lee reveals very personal images and cute details from her past. An essayistic film, Mommy unabashedly combines video, text, sound, animation, and graphics into montages. Depending on what she wants to depict at any given moment, she adapts it for the medium, playing with various forms. The film is not strictly a documentation, but neither an art film, it is not reality nor fiction. Mommy is shown in a setting created by Maggie Lee specifically for Speak, Lokal.
Maggie Lee, whose parents both emigrated from Taiwan, was born in 1987 in New Jersey. She lives and works in New York.

Sally Schonfeldt

In her works, Sally Schonfeldt investigates how knowledge is created and retained. She questions who wields power over history and memory, thus challenging eurocentric historiography. Schonfeldt shares her research results in films, lecture performances or exhibition displays.
The presented work is a continuation of her project The Struggle Within the Struggle, which was first shown in the exhibition space UP STATE in 2015. The work is conceived of as an open archive in which Schonfeldt shares the stories and efforts of women in revolutionary protest movements in Zurich in the nineteenth and twentieth century. The presentation of documents concerns the radical women of the “Fritschi Circle”, a political group of female students from Russia who gathered in Zurich around 1870 and later affected the Russian revolution. The backdrop shows Andrea Stauffacher, a distinctive representative of the 1968 generation in Zurich, who is active in the radical group Revolutionärerer Aufbau Zürich, and an image of the Beritan women’s association, a group of Kurdish women who bring attention to the repression of Kurds and demand international solidarity.
Sally Schonfeldt was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1983. She lives and works in Zurich. Sally Schonfeldt’s contribution is supported by Stiftung Curt und Erna Burgauer.

Rafiqul Shuvo

Rafiqul Shuvo started his career as a cricket player before he turned to sculpture, experimented with painting, made films, started to draw and became a leading member of the artist group OGCJM (Only God Can Judge Me), stirring up the young art scene in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Speak, Lokal he is exhibiting two bodies of works. There are eleven films from 2014, which are shown on eleven monitors. Viewed on their own, every film seems to be an experimental documentation of some life and landscape in Dhaka. Clustered together they become something more. What we understand to be a reflection of the world is an abstract composition based on cinematographic rules: two-dimensional sculptures made by a camera lens. The films more likely resembles a sketch made with single images or a painting without a canvas. It is more about mental figures, than actual figures. Similarly, the sculpture made of wood planks and poles So-So sits on the park bench and observes the trees blowing in the breeze, at peace (2017) is like a thought being thought by the thought on its path to transcendence.
Rafiqul Shuvo was born in 1982 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. He currently lives and works in Vienna. Supported by the Samdani Art Foundation

Ramaya Tegegne

In her work Ramya Tegegne portrays artist groups and the circumstances in which they live and create. Using an ethnographic approach, Tegegne observes milieus and infiltrates networks in order to describe them later in texts, visual essays and performances. She is particularly interested in uncovering the mechanisms of the art world: In her ongoing project Bzzz Bzzz Bzzz (since 2014) she looks at the phenomenon of gossip as an informal means of communication that transports certain values and beliefs. In wages for, wages against (2017) she once again demands transparency and raises the question of how artistic work is remunerated. How much does an artist earn for the exhibition of his / her works in an institution? A collection of conversations with different artists, in part also from the show Speak, Lokal, traces this question. The publication is freely available at the front desk of Kunsthalle Zürich.
Ramaya Tegegne was born in 1985 in Geneva, where she lives and works today. She acted as co-director of the artist space Forde. Together with Géraldine Beck and Tiphanie Blanc she operates the bookshop Oraibi + Beckbooks in Geneva.

Theory Tuesdays / Philip Matesic

During the exhibition Speak, Lokal Philip Matesic is going to hold nine sessions of his Theory Tuesdays at Kunsthalle Zürich. Theory Tuesdays is a non-academic platform for theory discussions founded by Philip Matesic in 2009. Participants read beforehand and then discuss selected texts on art, design, literary, cultural and critical theory. Theory Tuesdays has operated under the “Each One, Teach One” model since its conception, with each session being run by a different person. This person first offers a contextualization of the week’s text before opening up the conversation in the group. The discussions are a blend of knowing and not-knowing, being critical and playful, each one teaching the other. By being free and open to the public, the weekly circulation of varying topics and presenters makes it possible to just drop in and discuss one text without committing to further attendance. The sessions are held either in English or German—depending on who is presenting the text that week.

If you plan to join Theory Tuesdays please read the relevant text beforehand. The PDF will be uploaded a week before each session on Theory
Tuesdays at Kunsthalle Zürich takes place every Tuesday between March 4 and May 7 at 8pm.

Piotr Uklański

Piotr Uklański self-consciously picks up languages of art like vernacular abstraction, fiber art, design, or—as in his most recent series about Poland—amateur photography. What to many may look like an exercise in style, in reality draws a complex, contradictory, and sometimes distressing picture of our time. In Now We Can Give You But Memory (2015–2016) Uklański embraces the language of amateur photography based on seemingly naive concepts of beauty. Filled with longing and pride, the artist uses this aesthetic to depict a panorama of the country he left as a teenager. The result, a portrait flirting with nationalism, nostalgia, and romanticism, is of troubling uncanniness not only because of what it shows, but of what it mirrors: how shamefulness, partly racist and sexist patriotism is the new currency today in politics and the media.
Piotr Uklański, born 1968 in Warsaw, lives and works in New York.

Shirin Yousefi

Shirin Yousefi presents an artwork made of memories of a constructed journey through the Kurdish regions between Iran, Turkey, Syria and independent Kurdistan. The work is made of something that can’t be detained at any border: Sounds and smells. The sound recordings are of three forms of ululations. This long, wavering, high-pitched singing is practiced by women in the Middle East for communal ritual events such as weddings or funerals. A ululation can also be understood as a kind of code. In contested territories Kurdish fighters announce their victories or a death through ululation. Apart from the sound recordings Yousefi’s work consists of a series of odors, spread variously throughout the exhibition space. Together with Zurich-based perfumer Andreas Wilhelm the artist developed five fragrances that correspond to her memory of the Kurdish landscape and bring the smell of moss, dust, and metal into the exhibition. Yousefi’s artwork The Tales of the Cortex (2017) is a nod to a geopolitical place with transient borders and sounds and smells that are simultaneously memorable and fleeting.
Shirin Yousefi was born in 1986 in Teheran, Iran. She lives and works in Servion, near Lausanne. Shirin Yousefi is the awardee of this year’s “KADIST—Kunsthalle Zürich Production Award.”

Speak, Lokal comes with a all sorts of activities. Every Tuesday evening at 8 p.m., we host Philip Matesic's Theory Tuesdays where theoretical texts are discussed by the participants. All sessions are free and open to the public, no need to rsvp. The text for the coming session are uploaded a week before here. Every Thursday evening we offer guided tours, just come by and ask for it! There will be performances, bar, talks, etc., get your information here, or subscribe to our Newsletter!

For the opening on March 3, 2017, Gasthaus / Maya Minder joins us at Kunsthalle Zürich!

Generously supported by


Ernst und Olga Gubler-Hablützel Stiftung

Georges und Jenny Bloch-Stiftung

Samdani Art Foundation

Stiftung Erna und Curt Burgauer

Hotel Castell, Zuoz

Press information

For image enquiries, further information on the exhibition programme and interviews please contact Aoife Rosenmeyer: presse [​at​] or +41 (0)44 272 15 15
Fr 03.03.
Opening: Speak, Lokal
Th 09.03.
Lokal, Speak
Su 12.03.
Th 16.03.
Rundgang / guided tour
Th 23.03.
Lokal, Speak
Th 23.03.
POOL: Talk & Concert
Th 30.03.
Rundgang / guided tour
Su 02.04.
Th 06.04.
POOL: Concert
Th 20.04.
Rundgang / guided tour
Su 23.04.
Th 27.04.
Speaking about Local