GRR 49: rundherundherundherum
Ingo Giezendanner im Thun Panorama

Exhibition view GRR49: Rundherundherundherum 2012/2013, photo: Christian Helmle

21. March 2012 – 9. June 2013


The Schadaupark in Thun is home to the oldest surviving panorama of the world, the Thun-Panorama. It was painted from 1809 to 1814 by Marquard Wocher and shows the everyday life in the town of Thun and the surrounding area in an area of 285 square metres. In his exhibition rundherundherundherum in the building of the Thun Panorama, Ingo Giezendanner juxtaposes this cyclorama with a panorama he specially created for the exhibition and which is around 2 metres high and 50 metres long. As interesting as the individual viewing of the two cycloramas is – the confrontation of the oldest with the latest panorama of the world brings out the exciting peculiarities and characteristics of the genre, but it also elucidates how strongly the “city panorama” type reflects the temporal conditions and needs of the society.

On the way back from the feast of shepherds in Unspunnen in 1808, artist Marquard Wocher, who was born in Mimmenhausen in 1760, sketched his panorama in Thun. He executed it from 1809 to 1814 in Basel, where it was finally exhibited as well. More than 30 years before the opening of the first railway line in Switzerland, it was meant to show the beauty of the town in the Bernese Oberland to the people of Basel. It was part of his scheme that Wocher selected a rooftop view in the old town of Thun, from where the prominent landmarks are visible in an all-round view, just like the desire of the artist to depict the town as truthfully as possible. With the utmost dedication to detail, the panorama gives an insight into the everyday bustle of the town of Thun on a summer morning and gives an idea of how life was in those days. Ingo Giezendanner (born 1975, lives and works in Zurich) contrasts this historic monument in rundherundherundherum with an almost equally large cyclorama, particularly created for the exhibition.

Ingo Giezendanner is a flaneur, who as a chronicler of his environment has made a name for himself beyond the Swiss borders. Wherever he is located at a time, whether in Berlin, Belgrad or Baku, be it in Kampala, Kassel or Karatschi, everywhere he records on paper all that surrounds him, in assured strokes. Here, he is less concerned about the spectacular, the historically or touristically interesting, but rather the places where everyday life happens and where this leaves its mark. The starting point for rundherundherundherum is (similar to Wocher) a journey – in this case to the quite similar-sounding Tunis city, which is almost on the same longitude as Thun. He sat in a public square, somewhat away from the city centre, and documented what was happening around him in a 360-degree drawing.

While in Wocher’s Thun-Panorama the focus was on the truest possible depiction of the town, this is only partly the case in the ‘Tunis-Panorama’. In terms of content, Giezendanner in his cyclorama is primarily interested in the construct ‘city’ at a higher level and particularly in the visual consequences of the collision of different needs in a concentrated coexistence. His 360-degree view entirely kept in black and white shows a fragmentary urban scene, whose main ingredients – crowded roads, unspectacular rows of houses, decaying wall fragments, spreading shrubs – can be found in much the same form in very many places. In fact, the artist has also intertwined the Tunis drawing with documented detailed illustrations of other corners of this earth and thereby primarily presents the portrait of the city in today’s globalised world.

Giezendanner also transfers the interlocking of different views in terms of content to the formal construction of the cyclorama. Because, it is not presented flat against the slightly curved wall, but folded like an accordion, where depending on the viewing direction, another part of the panorama unfolds. In contrast to the classical cyclorama, entirely focused on an illusionist effect, the artist here plays with the optics, by having the audience pace off and work out the image metre by metre. Giezendanner’s panorama is characterised by a network of rampant black lines. Almost bordering on a horror vacui, the presentation is filled to the farthest edges with visual information, but without providing a judgement to the viewer. There are for instance the tags and graffitis that seem to envelop the brick walls and house walls like a second skin, as are the crowded shop windows where traders advertise their goods, then there are the convoys of cars moving slowly through the narrow streets – Giezendanner’s panorama reads like an inventory list of the elements that make up urban life and which one has long ago ceased to see due to their banality. And it is this indexical claim for completeness, which provides the presentation with an enormous narrative power and lets it report about the everyday joys and troubles, the struggle for survival or the rapidity with which our environment changes.