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Art: Borderline

(March 2011) The Swiss city of Zurich commissioned a fountain for its Tecino Place with reference to Tecino and using local Tecino material. Sculptor Horst Bohnet was awarded the contract. In his submission he wrote: „When I think of Tecino, I have a certain picture in my mind’s eye, namely lakes before a backdrop of the mighty Alpine crests.“

His design bears the title „Lago Montagna“ („Lake-Mountain“): an 8 m-long gneiss-monster weighing 15 t. A series of mounts along the runnel spout water, which gently babbles down the sides, finding its way back to the source. The mounts at once are reminiscent of a mountain range which separates Zurich’s citizens from the Tecino Swiss (that is the North from the South) like the Alps or the weather.

But despite their differences, citizens of both North and South are Swiss and share a common culture.

The rules of the competition reinforced the sense of togetherness in stipulating that the final realization of the fountain had to be carried out as a team effort.

For Bohnet hat was the easy part of the job considering that he is a popular member of his trade. He rounded up 37 colleagues all of whom – albeit with the occasional interval – worked on the fountain in a concerted effort.

In contrast the preceding steps were not so easy. To find a quarry able to cut and deliver such gargantuan blocks was no simple task. And for the rough work, the machinery had to be moved to the block – not the other way round as is normally the case. Transporting the block from the quarry in the Maggia Valley also was a borderline job.

Horst Bohnet often pushes himself to the edge, even if he is, on a whole, a very friendly, easy-going fellow. „Working on the edge is what makes a job exciting“, as he explains by e-mail. This does not mean that he wants to cross the border – just test the limits. As he puts it „I find it interesting to walk the line“.

The same holds true for his artistic work. Not only is he active as a sculptor but also often works with other materials, even with transient materials like snow. The themes of his works are also almost boundless: he was once solicited by a local church community and constructed a baptismal font which could be moved with but a few knacks.

In one project he volunteered for a project which makes many an artist run for cover: „An ART Diary“ for which he completed one new piece of art each day for one whole year – with a maximum of 24 hours to complete the work.

One of the current projects is „Cocoon“ made of Bollinger sandstone. It is part of a project for 100th anniversary of the Swiss Sculptor’s Organization as we reported in our December edition. Another piece of work was „r.u.h.e.“ („r.e.s.t.“) made of shell bearing limestone, so-called Muschelkalk: a pun on words – the benches form letters inviting passers-by to stop for a breather. The stone chosen „tells of the peace and quiet … at the bottom of the ocean“ he explains. And are a simple but effective place of rest.

Horst Bohnet (German)

Photos: Horst Bohnet