Staring at the Bin – Swiss Edition

SoundTrieb performing «Walking», Pilatus, Oktober 2022

Staring at the Bin — Swiss Edition

by Meriel Price, curated by Isabel Piniella Grillet, performed by SoundTrieb

21 February – 26 March 2023

In dialogue with the exhibition À bruit secret, the artist and composer Meriel Price presents a video series of subtle and fleeting miniature performances in public space. Viewers are witnesses to a choreographed, anarchistic infiltration of surveillance that unfolds acoustically as well as performatively.

SoundTrieb performing Platform, Basel, November 2022.

SoundTrieb performing Platform, Basel, November 2022.

The act of looking is an unequal relationship. To look up or to look down implies a hierarchy, as the subjects watching or being watched cannot be at the same level of reciprocity. The topic of surveillance arouses fascination and suspicion in both mainstream and academic debates. It is within the field of art that we often find creative responses and imaginative alternatives that reflect critically upon this controversial topic. As tracking apps have become unquestionable tools, and digital platforms demand access to our geolocation, Sousveillance: Staring at the bin – Swiss Edition aims to reflect on a specific facet of global surveillance that has been much discussed and addressed in the last two years due to COVID-19: Mobility.

Sousveillance: Staring at the Bin – Swiss Edition, by the artist and composer Meriel Price, is a series of unannounced, subtle, and fleeting miniature performances in public spaces. By engaging a compositional vocabulary to precisely choreograph sounds and gestures of normal behaviour specific to a space, the work explores territory on the borders of perception creating a fundamentally ambiguous experience. Price travelled Switzerland selecting squares, stations, bridges, and bus stops, writing site-specific pieces in response to unique locations to create the Swiss Edition of Staring at the Bin, premiered and exhibited for the first time at the Munich Biennale, 2016. Performed by the Swiss ensemble SoundTrieb and captured on video, the work presented in the exhibition at Museum Tinguely focuses on the country's geographic diversity and integrates the four vernacular regions, with miniature performances filmed in Basel, Lucerne, Zurich, Bern, Lugano, Surselva and Geneva.

Staring at the bin is where the public, music, and theatre directly meet, unannounced and unexpected. A collection of minuscule performances in public spaces, events so tiny they appear to be coincidences or strange chance occurrences. Musical and theatrical events are seamlessly fused to life in urban spaces, distilled to their essence; the rest, the beat, repetition, or variation. Day to day life is framed and focused as it provides the material for intimate interactions. Meeting eye to eye without an “art” context allows a new relationship, a direct response as all labels are removed, leaving space for ones own meaning. Disturbances in the rhythm of the day force a pause for thought, an opportunity to reinterpret everyday routines of urban life. Something for nothing and unexplained, the events are unexpected, heightening awareness, stimulating a more immediate connection to surrounding people, places, and occurrences.
Meriel Price, 2016

Sousveillance: Staring at the Bin moves in a broad field of tension between the struggle for social interaction and engagement in public space through autonomous actions and an aesthetic, rhythmic and choreographic reconfiguration of daily life as art. Curated under the concept of Sousveillance, the exhibition reflects on the surveilled urban rhythm, as Price’s sonic and visual exploration of the everyday and her fictional scenarios result in an aesthetic experience of subtle interruption that ultimately resets the perpetual imperceptible vigilant system. Indeed, the found footage display underlines the resistant character of small gestures. The sound and visuality of our everyday life is part of our performative agency: Social change begins with tiny actions.

Staring at the Bin, Bridges
Composed by Meriel Price, Performed by SoundTrieb, Geneva 2022

A companion publication is planned for March 2023 with essays addressing the exhibition's framework as well as bringing Price's work into dialogue with Tinguely's understanding of daily soundscapes, rhythm and movement.


Artist: Meriel Price
Curator: Isabel Piniella
Organiser: SoundTrieb Association
Performers: Juan José Faccio, Alice Mei-Yu Hohberger, Magdalena Irmann, Corentin Marillier, Anna Minten.
Camera: Lukas Egger & Luca Fortuna
Sound: Pablo Callisaya, Luca Fortuna & Seraina Frazetto
Post production: Tapir Film - Moritz Hossli, Pablo Callisaya