Thomas Hirschhorn’s editions are acquired by the Zuzāns collection


As part of his “ART=SHELTER” project, Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn created 15 art pieces in Latvia. The artist refers to the pieces as the “Medallion” series. The project stands as a protest against Russia’s war on Ukraine.

The “ART=SHELTER” medallions are dedicated to the French philosopher, political activist and researcher Simone Weil. Zines and collages featuring Weil are placed on a wall in a cardboard box plastered with packing tape. Many of her aphorisms on art, religion, joy, grace, politics and the roots of humanity are included in the exhibition. The artist emphasizes the interpretation of medallions in their traditional role as symbols of protection and in the lesser-known role of symbols of responsibility. “This means that the medallion wearer is willing to take risks and responsibility –the most important thing that should be done these days,” explains the artist.

Art collector and patron Jānis Zuzāns, author of the Zuzāns collection, says, “Thomas Hirschhorn’s art responds vividly to highlights and simultaneously includes generalizations. I am bound by his specificity, his directness, and his expression. ‘Medallions’ adds well to that Zuzeum collection story devoted to contemporary-shaped possibilities in two-dimensional works. In addition, this work is related to Latvia.”

Inga Šteinmane, curator of Art Station Dubulti,points out, “Thomas Hirschhorn has a special way of pursuing his politics – face to face with each viewer individually. The medallions are also meant to be viewed individually, which makes the work contemporarily achievable and at the same time, obliges everyone to take care and responsibility. I think Thomas Hirschhorn’s art instigates revolutionary expectations about the role art plays in building a better society and this is very topical.”

Thomas Hirschhorn is a contemporary artist who through his work “Gramsci Monument”, enacted in 2013 in Bronx, New York, has laid the groundwork for a new form of art in public spaces. It puts the viewer at the centre as an active participant rather than just an onlooker. The artist continues with this concept in Latvia in the project “ART = SHELTER / MĀKSLA = PATVĒRUMS”.

Thomas Hirschhorn was born in 1957 in Bern, Switzerland. He studied at the Zurich School of Art (1978-1983) and moved to Paris, France, in 1983.  He has created many solo exhibitions –in 2021: “the Purple line” at the Roman Museum of Contemporary Art in MAAXI; “I-nfluencer-Poster”, at the Alfonso Artiaco Gallery in Naples; “Community of fragments” at GL Strand in Copenhagen; “21 and Deleuze Monument” Pôle Culturel associatif de Saint-Chamand in Avignon, France;  “Spinoza-car” at BOZAR in Brussels; in 2020: “eternal Ruins” at the Chantal Crousel Gallery in Paris; in 2019: “Thomas Hirschhorn — Maps”, in the context of the museum collection of Musée Jenisch in Switzerland. He has also participated in many international projects, including the 56th Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor, the Venice Biennale exhibition “all the World’s futures” in 2015, the Harald Szeemann-curated 48th Venice Biennale, as well as dAPERTutto “APERTO over ALL” at the Venice Biennale Swiss pavilion in 2011.

The art centre Zuzeum is the home of the Zuzāns collection. It is the world’s largest private collection of Latvian art. Thomas Hirschhorn’s medallions from the project “ART=SHELTER” are the first works by the artist in the Zuzāns collection.

Related articles