* Belinda Sallin, Director
Hansruedi Giger lived 52 whole years in Zurich! Consecutively! Young Giger moved to Zurich from Chur (GR) when he was 22, and never left. He moved to the Oerlikon district of Zurich in 1970, where he lived in the same house for 40 years, until his death.
He could’ve lived in Paris, Tokyo, London, New York or Los Angeles, but no. He loved Switzerland, his house in Oerlikon, he loved his family here, his friends, his cats. I don’t think he would have considered moving away, not even in his wildest dreams.
It’s no secret that Giger wanted to have a large solo exhibition in Zurich. Except for a small exhibition in the foyer of Kunsthaus Zürich in 1977, it never became a reality. Maybe Giger, with his breaking of taboos, was too provocative for the reserved Zwinglians. Maybe, after winning an Oscar in 1980, he was too famous. Maybe he received too much recognition abroad. For example, in 2004 Hansruedi was awarded “La Médaille de la Ville de Paris,” the Paris medal of honour. Maybe his implementation of Fantastic Realism was simply too hard to categorize. Even today, the Zurich art world is divided over the question of whether Giger is art or not.
When I met Hansruedi two and a half years before his death, I had the impression that he was no longer interested in that discussion about his work. I didn’t detect any hint of bitterness when he told me, “They don’t show my work here.” Maybe his composure came from the fact that he knew he didn’t need Zurich to enjoy worldwide success. Who needs an exhibition in Zurich when you’ve already reached countless people all over the world with your art?
All that was still going through my head when producer Marcel Hoehn and I considered entering the film into the Zurich Film Festival ZFF. The world premiere, in Zurich of all places?
It didn’t take us long to decide. Of course the film must premiere in Zurich! Zurich was Hansruedi’s city, even if he never received medals or support for his work here, not to mention exhibits. Zurich was the city he chose. I don’t think Hansruedi would have wanted to have the film premiere anywhere else.
And I am delighted to have the opportunity to release the film at ZFF!
At this point I have to add that in recent years Hansruedi no longer liked to travel. For that reason alone, he would’ve been happy not to have to travel for the premiere. Besides, he never liked to leave his cats “Nönneli” and “Müggi I-III” alone. That was true even way back in 1978, when he spent months in the Shepperton Studios in London, working on the film Alien. I was very touched when Hansruedi told me about how he took care of his cats there. But that’s a story for another blog entry.