From Adrian Gutzelnig

5 - 31 Jan 2020




It’s very silent here says a book lying on the way to the studio, Nina created it and indeed it’s very quiet here – in this big house, in the village of Trélex. And since I came in January, I guess even quieter during winter. That’s what I searched for. Coming from the city life of Berlin, I was searching for a time of reflection and space to think of new work. 

I got what I wanted. Sitting at my desk, looking out of the window and into the garden – the fields in the background, long walks and looking at the beautiful mountain on the other side of Lake Geneva. A share of Nina’s studio and a lot of time.

Finally, a month to create art, right? 

Just before I came, I had researched the traditions and beliefs of what is called Rauhnächte in Austria, where I come from. An equivalent of the Twelve Days of Christmas in England, this period between the years represents a gap – the darkest time of the year, a time of special connection between this world and the other in many cultures. It is reserved for activities such as prayer, future telling, purification rituals and scaring away the spirits of winter. 


It happened that my spirits were waiting for me in Trélex. No loud noises there, like those of the bells used in some Austrian regions to scare the spirits away. 

I was unable to achieve anything. The spirits would appear and disappear, flying around me, one suggesting one project, and another one trying to change my mind again. A third spirit would tell me to finally finish an old project, and a forth was pushing on me to believe that there are more important things to follow than art, questioning the very existence of my practice. 

The fighting was ongoing. I am a strong person, but they were tearing me into pieces. Two weeks of sitting in the studio. Two weeks without achievement. Even more arguments from the spirits. 

It was painful. 

Despite it being a silent place, there were still two people around, Alia my artist in residence colleague and Nina. In our conversations it became clear to me that these spirits are no problem, actually. They are everywhere throughout the year, hiding away usually, rather than invading the everyday. 

In my way of approaching Trélex, I created it as a gate between different worlds, a space to leave the everyday, to leave the city and to encounter an open process of seeing what would happen, rather than making judgments right away. I expected it to be a new piece of art, a sculpture or installation, something like that. However, in this moment it became more like a performance – I was playing ghost busters. 

So no matter what, I was still in this situation, being teased and pushed. Spirits were flying around me, and I was unable to get a grip on them. I don’t know where they came from, but understanding that it was me who invited them was changing the game. It was the beginning of my stay’s second chapter. 

“Come on in!” I said to them, “It was me who invited you, so come and stay with me.” I stopped trying to fight them. “Come here, don’t fly away; tell me your story! … What is it that you were going to say?” “How come? That’s a bit hard to believe, but if you think so…” 

I can proudly say, I was able to make them mine. 

The spirits became a part of me and after listening to them and wanting to hear more, they became silent and more silent, losing their words altogether. 

I was able to open myself and to feel them crawl in. After a bit, the only feeling that remained was a deep, warm, mesmerizing feeling – a deep glowing from my heart. 

The rest of my stay became gorgeous. After what I’ve been through I stopped caring. I started to see how amazing the resources are, that Nina is sharing so generously. And in the end it happened that I made quite a bit of progress with new work. 

My stay felt more like a trip. I was diving down into the unknown, coming back up with more strength and passion for my practice, an invaluable experience.

If you are curious to see some of my work, please check out my website: www.adriangutzelnig.com


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