Jean Otth. Spaces of Projection


Jean Otth (1940–2013), a pioneer of video art in Switzerland, began exploring the visual potential of new technologies as early as the late 1960s, experimenting with slides as projected, dematerialised images, television and its language, and the experimental, shifting nature of video.

Whether we are talking about Jean Otth’s moving images, paintings, drawings, or installations, it is the questions and issues of representation itself that lie at the heart of his experiments more than his attachment to any one medium in particular. The show offers an overview of nearly fifty years of artmaking, all mediums included. It will allow visitors to take stock of both the depth and diversity of a body of work that is centered on the dialectic tension between representation and nonrepresentation, visibility and obliteration, presence and absence, in an endlessly renegotiated balance on the shifting line that marks the limit. Painted (on canvas, paper, mirrored glass), drawn (in pencil, spray paint, gloss paint), manipulated (with the use of a monitor and video, and later with the computer and its screen), and projected (on the wall, paper, objects), the image as a recording of reality can by turns be seen and drop out of sight, be present and go missing. For it is the very possibility of its materialization, and hence visibility, which is in play in Jean Otth’s work. The female body and the desire to see or, more precisely, the desire to know formed for a long stretch of his career the visible pivot of his questioning. Experimentation with different mediums was an attempt to enlarge the space of possibilities and would lead to the abstraction of his video installations over the last decade of his career.

Curator: Nicole Schweizer

Solo exhibitions showcasing major contemporary artists from the canton will take place alongside the Jardin d’hiver biennial in one of the museum’s temporary exhibition spaces.

Credits and image caption:
Jean Otth, "Oblitération II" (from the series Vidéo-miroirs), 1975, video, b & w, sound, 7’19”. MCBA, acquisition, 2015. Video-still © Atelier für Videokonservierung, Bern


Jean Otth. Travaux/Works, 1964-2013

Nicole Schweizer (dir.)
With essays by Robert Ireland, Agathe Jarczyk, Elisabeth Jobin, Geneviève Loup and Nicole Schweizer.

A coedition by the Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne & Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich, 2020.

(fr./en.), 256 pp., 381 illustrations.

CHF 39.-