Version Bêta

I just came back from a quick trip to Geneva, where I was invited to give a talk about Creative Social Systems in the Centre pour l’image contemporaine, as part of the Artists in Labs discussion sessions in the Version Bêta Biennial 2008. I was sad to find out that the Centre is approaching it’s final days of existence due to recent economic adjustments in Switzerland. It was evident to me that both the Centre and the Biennial provided an important hub for the comprehension and appreciation of the new media in the arts. I had an incredible time and met with a number of interesting people that gave me valuable feedback and shared their own work and ideas with me.

I was lucky to arrive the day Geneva celebrates L’Escalade, the most important festivity of the year there. Tradition tells the story of a French invasion in 1602. Back then, Geneva was protected by a wall. In order to invade the city, the French mercenaries prepared themselves to climb the wall, but never expected the wrath of Geneva’s housewives and their top secret culinary weapon. Hundreds of cauldrons of hot vegetable soup were dropped on the French invaders from the top of the wall, burning them with carrots and mushrooms and beets.

The best part of this traditional celebration comes after dinner. A cauldron made of dark chocolate is filled with marzipan vegetables and placed in the center of the table. The eldest and the youngest in the table hold hands on top of the chocolate cauldron and smash it while reciting “Ainsi périssent les ennemis de la République!” (Thus perish the enemies of the Republic). Dark chocolate and marzipan mushrooms accompanied with an espresso and mulled wine. Can life get better than that?

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