Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich was instrumental in the emergence of the Dada movement
“I would never have thought that something like this could happen in Switzerland,” the gallerist Maria Bernheim told the Swiss newspaper NZZ on Friday 7 June. That day, the façade of her Zurich gallery had been spray-painted with the words “Free Palestine” and the pavement in front of it with “No art for genocide”.
The attack coincided with the start of Zurich’s Art Weekend (7-9 June), a three-day event featuring exhibition openings and events across the city’s galleries and institutions. The weekend has become a popular stop for international art world professionals and collectors on their way to Art Basel (13-16 June).
Bernheim Gallery, which also has a space in London, was preparing to open its exhibition on the Dagestan-born artist Ebecho Muslimova at the time of the vandalism. “This gallery is open to all voices as a platform for dialogue,” Bernheim tells The Art Newspaper. “Anyone who does something like this [vandalism] wants to prevent a dialogue.”
Bernheim Gallery in Zurich was vandalised on Friday
Bernheim was not the only gallery targeted by vandals this weekend. According to the NZZ, at least four commercial galleries and institutions were defaced in the night between 6 and 7 June, including the legendary Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of the Dada art movement, which was covered with the same graffiti as Bernheim Gallery. The institution had just opened a show dedicated to the Jamaican music producer Lee Scratch Perry, alongside a lively performance programme by artists including Monster Chetwynd.
Earlier that week, Cabaret Voltaire hosted a talk, the first in a series titled "Zwielichtige Kulturgeschichte" (shady cultural history) looking at sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism in the context of the Zurich Dada movement.
Zurich city police confirmed it had received four separate reports of damage to property on Friday connected to anti-Israel protests. Karma International and Blue Velvet Projects have also been defaced, according to the police. Blue Velvet, which is located in a Jewish neighbourhood of Zurich, was spray-painted with the slogan “Intifada for Victory”. A red triangle was drawn beneath the text, a controversial symbol that has become associated with the protests and is used by Hamas.
Jonathan Kreutner, the secretary general of the Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities, told the Jüdische Allgemeine Zeitung: “Blatant hatred of Israel is being acted out against Jewish businesses. It's pure anti-Semitism to make Jewish businesses and fellow citizens responsible for the state of Israel and to target them.”