pierre-philippe hofmann

Portrait of a Landscape

[ 2012 - 2016 ]   installation for 45 screens and 1 sculpture, gathering ± 2500 x 1min static video shots


Portrait of a Landscape # 1 unrandomized (fragments), exhibition in Zeughaus Brig, Festival BergBuchBrig - November 2016


transitional version of Portrait of a Landscape, group exhibition Terra Nostra - Centre Pasquart Bienne 2013

    «    Sublime we name an object, at whose conceptualization our sensuous nature feels its limits, but our rational nature its superiority, its freedom from limits; in the face of this we thus derive physically our brevity, which we surmount but morally, i.e. through ideas.   »

    Friedrich Schiller, On the Sublime: Toward the Further Development of Some Kantian Ideas (1793)


10 different paths through the country. The red one will be finished this summer.

For this ambitious project, I kept in mind Lieux Communs - Gemeenplaatsen, which was created in Belgium and I wanted to confront a similar country. I chose to work on a territory that is not much bigger than Belgium, that is made of different communities and languages as well... but one that has a very different topological environment... Switzerland is also a country a large part of my family comes from.

This time again, I felt it was more interesting to walk through the country. I chose 10 straight lines to walk on, covering more than 2000km. So of courseNaturally, an undertaking of this kind requires this takes muchmore time than walking on a 300km border in a flat country. Also innovative and different for this One thing makes this project also is that different: I started working with video. So, on my way – I would say almost every kilometerkilometre – I put my HD-cam on a tripod and film one minute. I started 3 years ago and my walks are almost finished. I have already more than 2500 minutes of film. All these images will be showed together in the form of an installation, a video-wall gathering 45 screens. And even on 45 screens, the visitor would need about 50 minutes to see them all.

For Portrait of a Landscape, physicality is omnipresent as I physically experience distances, I am all times exposed to seasons and weather changes. But this experience isn't represented in the work, I keep it for myself. It's only suggested by the fact that I am indeed on pathways that aren't accessible by transportation.

This work gives the impression not to be that much focused on urbanism. In a sense, it might be true because urban occupation is not as dense as it is in Belgium.

But the urbanity is also more porous and a strong relation between the city and the countryside/nature/mountain is maintained. Mainly in the North of Switzerland – and this is a personal hypothesis - there could be two complementary trends:

  • one is trying to mastermind the landscape. Popping up in my mind, is the really dense network of paths with detailed signalling every 200m, guardrails, dustbins, shelters,... Everything is optimized, accessible and secured, even at high altitude (7 hütte open all year long on the biggest Swiss gletscher, Aletsch). I am also thinking about the railway passings that one can see everywhere (for example on Matterhorn-Bernina line). The idea of pure intact nature has been lost, even at the top of the mountain. Nontheless, keeping the impression of a virgin natural context stays a strong contradictory quest.

  • the other trend consists out of the opposite : extending this extreme nomadism in the middle of the city, prolonging the trail into urbanity . To hightlight this: a footpath often passes through a private garden. The idea of having a fence in the garden is absolutely unpopular. Where in most of European countries, we don't agree to be seen by the neighbourhood, here, the idea of staying connected to the surrounding landscape seems to be predominant. The property will be marked by some delimitation (for example a marked stone, or a small bush), but it would be heretic to raise a hedge between two gardens; it would break the ties with the idea of a continuous landscape.



  • work document: a collection of 289 screenshots, each one of them representing a 1 minute video (± 1/9 of the whole project)

    Thanks to:
    Volkart Stiftung Winterthur
    Chretzeturm (Stein am Rhein), Altes Spital (Solothurn), La Ferme-Asile (Sion), Arc artist residency (Romainmotier), Villa Ruffieux (Sierre),
    Wallonie-Brussels International, le service des Arts Numériques de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Swisstopo, CFF-SBB,
    Festival BergBuchBrig, Wandering Art Biennal by Nadine & all welcoming couchsurfers




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