For ancient Greeks, muthos meant something other than ‘myth’. It described a story unveiling the true origin of the world and human beings. Since the early twentieth century, the story of the Atlantis-like Mu —a lost continent thought by some to have existed long ago in the Pacific Ocean— has stood for utopian reverie. Any longingly imagined or remembered place, time, or state can be referred to as “Mu”. Aslı Çavuşoğlu’s project Muthoscapes looks for this utopia in paintings of Swiss landscapes. Collected from antique stores and flea markets, the paintings were examined and x-rayed. With guidance from Çavuşoğlu, Evren Kıvançer used restoration techniques to remove layers of patina and varnish responding to the painter’s original brushstrokes, revealing what lay beneath the surface. Çavuşoğlu draws links between the original state of an artwork and our origins as human beings. Switzerland is cast as a utopia, Mu, which has a particular resonance given the current local debate surrounding immigration.
Found oil painting of Swiss landscape, some varnish and patina removed. Commissioned by Manifesta 11 with the support of SAHA.
* Löwenbräukunst, Limmatstrasse 270, 8005 ZH
** Front Office Tourist Service, Hauptbahnhof, 8001 ZH
Turkish artist Aslı Çavuşoğlu has sought to go beyond the idealised representation of the Swiss landscape working, with the help of a restorer, on a series of traditional paintings, searching for layers beneath the surface.