FALL 2021 | ARTXPUZZLES: PUZZLES WITH PURPOSE selected contemporary curator Alexa Jeanne Kusber for a select Curators Choice section, which is a global initiative by special invitation only for international curators from around the world to create new and innovative artist jigsaw puzzles with our company.
Ms. Kusber has selected contemporary artists Natalie Ball (Chiloquin,Oregon), Olaf Breuning (Switzerland/Upstate NYC), Andrea Hasler (London/Switzerland), Tessa Perutz (New York/Brussels) and Fragmentin (Lausanne,Switzerland).
My initial thoughts, when considering this collection, was that humanity needs the transformational power of creativity now more than ever. Initiatives such as Puzzles with Purpose can contribute in fueling the ability to open our minds to new art forms, rethink the concept of community and playfully bring us closer to the authentic spirit of creation.
Puzzle solving not only connects us to the creative process of artists by asking us to tap into our everyday abilities of perception, understanding and memory, but it also allows us to put together the pieces into a whole: to fix, mend and reconsider what we have built.
As we continue to navigate this pandemic-fueled culture shock, (personally, environmentally, politically, and professionally) with certainties faded into the past, the act of puzzling becomes a playful way to assist us on our modern journeys.
With this in mind, I have selected five artists from the Verbier 3-D Foundation residency program, whom I believe navigate their own personal landscapes, producing artworks which provide a commentary on their experiences of the pandemic and life in general. The works selected, and experienced as puzzles, engage us to consider issues related to collectivity, community, cultural understanding of history and politics, form, space and our common past, present and future.
Natalie Ball’s work offers us new narratives through the framework of auto-ethnography paired with activism. Covering heavy topics that relate to her identity, from the erasure of Indigenous communities, anti-Blackness, blood quantum rules, missing and murdered Indigenous women to Land Back, Ball does not want to educate, rather she is just sharing her truth. Olaf Breuning’s multi-layered oeuvre asks us to constantly question contemporary reality and to use humor as an everyday survival tool. Andrea Hasler’s wax and mixed media sculptures portray the tension between attraction and repulsion focusing on the relationship with our bodies, personal space and consumerism. Tessa Perutz’s paintings function as psychological landscapes in an effort to serve as a getaway from the grim reality. Colorful motifs of bodies of water, forest canopies, botanicals and the sun and moon play freely in her works, opening up spaces to consider personal and universal themes of connection and separation. Fragmentin’s digital work demystifies complex systems and reveals the tension between emergent technologies and society. Their online generative artworks evoke the complex processes which consume both our minds and the energy resources of our world.
I would like to thank the creative force Alaina Simone, who introduced us to this admirable project.
Proceeds from Natalie Ball’s Limited Collector Edition Jigsaw Puzzle will go to the Klamath community in Oregon who faces environmental racism daily.
Curatorial Statement: Alexa Jeanne Kusber
Biography: Alexa Jeanne Kusber is an American independent curator and creative based in Zurich. Throughout her career she has maintained a focus on questioning and expanding the notion of curating.
Since moving to Switzerland, she currently is the Curatorial Director at the Verbier 3-D Foundation, a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to promoting contemporary art, environmentalism and education through its Artist Residency and Sculpture Park. In parallel, she was the Public Programmes Curator for the pioneering MuDA - Museum of Digital Art in Zurich until 2020.
As an independent curator, Alexa has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions and cultural projects in the United States, UK, Switzerland and internationally such as Mutations (Switzerland, 2014), [re]locate (UK, 2013), The Museum of Everything (UK, 2009) and education programmes such as Kibit and Mini Masters (Switzerland, 2014 - current).
She has written essays for magazines and publications including Surface Magazine (2013), Critical Contemporary Culture (2010 - 2014) and In Search of Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Nightmare (2018). Alexa has participated in numerous curatorial panel discussions most recently at Asia House (London), ZKM (Karlsruhe) and NRW Forum (Dusseldorf).