art&tram: a large-scale public-art project

This public-art project, managed by Canton Geneva, was initiated in 2009 by four communes crossed by tram route 14, Lancy, Onex, Confignon and Bernex, which the city of Geneva also joined. The fact that the project had its origins in the communes shows clearly that it satisfies a need identified by the local powers. It has been realised in the form of six permanent artistic interventions along the route of the number 14 tram, one in each of the communes served and one taking charge of a whole tram vehicle.

The project’s objectives and framework were devised by an artistic committee made up of recognised professional experts in the field of contemporary art. The whole has been thoroughly thought through in its geographic, architectural and social context. In the domain of public commissioning, it is not a matter of artificially transferring works from the museum to public spaces but of modifying the perception and use of the places chosen.

The committee called on artists considered outstanding on account of their quality and the international recognition of their work, as well as their experience of large-scale projects of public art. They were also chosen on account of adopting an approach that fits in with the project’s framework.

art&tram is setting out to bring art into the space used daily by travellers and residents, accompanying urban changes with a new link between the centre and the periphery and making  this axis stand out prominently. The artistic interventions are bringing added value to the use of public transport, thereby helping reinforce the perception of green mobility as a choice that gives pre-eminence to quality of life and experience on top of the well-known ecological and urban-planning issues.

The six works have been conceived to represent a consistent whole punctuating the development brought about by the new tram line. They have been designed to satisfy different uses and to upgrade certain locations: to suggest new meeting places, to propose settings where the eyes and the mind can take a rest (both of them severely stressed in the urban environment), to provide original views of the countryside or openings onto the imaginary – all of that making more out to the experience of the public-transport user.

To give examples: Silvie Defraoui develops work on a sequence to be experienced from a tram on the move, Eric Hattan alters the uses of urban furnishings and Pipilotti Rist reflects on the very idea of the journey as a vehicle of poetry.

As excellent protagonists of a particularly active and acclaimed Swiss artistic scene, yet belonging to clearly different generations and currents, the artists brought together for the purpose of this project offer a focused and representative extract of national creativity.

Artistic committee:    Professionals of contemporary art representing the state and

  • Françoise Ninghetto, jury president
  • Olivier Kaeser, expert
  • Jacqueline Burckhardt, expert

Commissioned architect:    Tarramo Broennimann

Coordination:    Cantonal Contemporary Art Fund/Cantonal Cultural Service/Department of Education, Culture and Sport