Didier Schwarz – Collectif 1m83

by | Oct 1, 2021 | Interviews

Created at the initiative of Didier Schwarz in 2018, the 1m83 Collective is working on the creation of giant photographic installations, particularly on buildings under restoration. Beyond the aesthetic character of these ephemeral works, we, as passers-by, are called upon to stop for a moment to take a more in-depth look at the history of the building, its architecture and its resonance with the urban canvas.
The Blue Bird, Tempus building at the Palais des Nations, Yoshinori Mizutani, Tokyo Parrots, 2013. Courtesy of IMA gallery.

A few years ago, Didier Schwarz discovered a wonderful island, that of Naoshima in Japan. This little piece of land is famous for its modern concrete art museums, designed by architect Tadao Ando. “The Chichu Art Museum was built around works selected in advance, giving them an undeniable added aestheticism,” he adds. The notion of minimalism, very popular in Japan, allows art to be appreciated in situ. This sensory and emotional experience was the trigger for the Collective’s projects, based on the relationship between the artwork, its environment and architecture. “When I got back, I noticed the amount of buildings being repaired, that were ‘ugly ‘ with scaffolding. The questions was, how to make them more attractive thanks to artworks created around the history of the place and exhibited during the construction.”

Yoshinori Mizutani, Tokyo Parrots, 2013. Courtesy of IMA gallery.

The Collective brings together various skills in the sectors of communication, strategy, marketing, finance, art history, and design. “This plurality is one of our assets because our intellectual approach and our visions are not only artistic.” 1m83 is a name that arouses curiosity. It is neither the size of the founder, nor that of a member of the Collective. What does this measurement refer to? The answer is the height of the Modulor man as described by Swiss architect Le Corbusier. In summary: “If we take into account the man in his space and his interaction with this space, then the perfect height is 1.83 m. This measurement corresponds to the golden ratio / divine proportion often found in nature. We have adopted this notion which fits perfectly with our philosophy” concludes Didier Schwarz.

Yoshinori Mizutani, Tokyo Parrots, 2013. Courtesy of IMA gallery.

In 2018, the first exhibition on the Tour de Rive was a great public success. The artists’ interest in collaborating is immediate and various stakeholders in the city of Geneva make their contribution throughout the projects. A new project from the Collective is currently on display at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, under construction for 4 years. “We notably met the heads of the PCP (Perception Change Project) office whose job is to enhance the image of the UN and the link between international Geneva and the locals. Due to the building works, a temporary building called Tempus has been erected to accommodate all the conferences. The perfect opportunity for 1m83 to get started.

Apart from the emblematic location, the Collective adheres to the 17 United Nations sustainable development goals which must be achieved by 2030, particularly by companies. “This is how the project to create 17 urban canvases created by 17 international artists illustrating the 17 objectives” was born, says Didier Schwarz. “This cycle begins with the installation ‘The Blue Bird’ on the walls of Tempus. This is a collage of five photographs by Japanese artist Yoshinori Mizutani of brightly colored birds perched on power lines or in flight. Our goal above all is cultural mediation, to create meeting points between the public and the different actors.”

Yoshinori Mizutani, Tokyo Parrots, 2013. Courtesy of IMA gallery.

The 1m83 Collective and UN Geneva invite the public to discover the two urban canvases exhibited in the Tempus building of the Palais des Nations. Open to all generations, the first meetings with the work will be held on September 30 and October 6, as part of NO’PHOTO, the Geneva Biennale of Photography. For registration go to eventbrite.ch.