I asked my friend Kim how to say some ‘basic’ things in Swiss German and how to write them, she told me: Swiss German is not a written language, so everyone writes how he/she/they want, I would write: guätä taag – buongiorno.
I came to St. Anton to research the traces of the ancient element of the fire in the collection of the Bibliothek Andreas Züst and in the Appenzell landscape around it. Even if this immaterial presence is not anymore very visible in architecture, I am fascinated by the strong role it had in the history of cultures and households. The fireplace is a space of aggregation, transmission of knowledge, tradition, histories and discussion; and it is also a symbol of community and as such connection with-in an environment.
There is no fireplace in the Alpenhof and there is no useful map I could take with me during the explorations. St. Anton is exactly in the crossroad of four different maps (1075, 1076, 1095, 1096). – The map is not the territory – so, I move my steps on different terrains: on the tiny roads passing trough the farms, on the paths in between trees and the one on the snowy and then green green grass fields, on the pages of the publications, on images of craft, landscape, culture, sport, volcanoes, minerals and in between sentences. I walked in the shady areas of the forest to harvest wild garlic, under the rain, in the fog, during warm spring days, in the latest light of the day, in unknown directions to discover a bakery still using a wood oven, to other villages to do my grocery or to scan some books – so really thought about what was necessary, what to carry (carrying – caring – maintaining). And I started to create a map with traces of fire in the area, with writings, visual notes, anecdotes and questions. The map will be printed on fabric and will be a new tablecloth for the future residents. The dinners where the moment of encounter between all of us living there (Grace, Milva, Samar and the ones visiting) and the tablecloth will be a transportable space for people to gather but also to transmit knowledge about fire in this area: people, places, stories, recipes, experiences that might be useful for who will come next.
Kim told me also in Switzerlands they say: April April der macht was er will – April, April, it does what it wants. – And so I did by exploring this environment and creating a new tool to move in it.
Have good walks,
Text: Francesca Luchitta