John M Armleder

Geneva, 2017

John M Armleder has never ceased to welcome people, proposals, and gestures. Born into a family of hoteliers, he knows that hospitality is also a form of generosity. At the end of the 1960s, in the Fluxus wake, he federated friends to convert the basement of the Richemond hotel into an ephemeral performance festival venue. He then hijacked an adjacent space and turned it into the headquarters of a publishing house, a bookshop and a gallery: Ecart, which turned out to be, throughout the 1970s, one of the most informed bookshops and one of the most interesting artist-run spaces in Europe.

From this time, John M Armleder retains an ability to conceive that art has the power to change relationships between people as much as between people and things, in a way that challenges taste and classification alike. The vocabulary of abstraction and of the avant-garde, the awareness of the exhibition as a medium, and the experience of performativity allowed him to deploy a catalogue of forms both highly personal and imbued with complex references. The work is understood as a moment in the practice of art, for which the spectator or the collector is as responsible as the artist himself.

This photograph was taken in a tea room, not far from John M Armleder’s home, where he spends a moment each day. Jokingly, a lot of his friends call this place “The Office.” The place is often crowded and has the charm of a candy box. For a very long time, he has hosted not only friends, but also most of his meetings here. But this is more than just an anecdote: John M Armleder chose to be an artist; in doing so, he assumed that this would erase any difference between the partitions of his life. If he did it, maybe we could do it too.

Samuel Gross & Lionel Bovier