Geneva Selection – Lada Umstätter moves to HEAD. And MAH, then?
– Lada Umstätter changes to HEAD. And MAH, then?
The conservator was the last scientific bastion of the Museum of Art and History now turned to events. Will he be replaced?
Well here it is, surprise! I must say that I did not expect it… Lada Umstätter was appointed, as you may know, to lead the design of the Haute Ecole d’art et de design. Words deliberately chosen to form the acronym HEAD. He will take office on January 1, 2023. Jean-Pierre Greff is leaving the Geneva institute for reasons of old age, which he has made known everywhere, the man remaining the best communicator. In fifteen years, Lorrain will have acquired extraordinary abilities to create an organ that has grown like cancer. Development of electricity. Metastases everywhere. That said, Greff won’t be completely gone from the scene, although HEAD wishes him a happy retirement in a press release. This cute fox has managed a few golden parachutes. The mystery of courage. I have never seen a small pin fly in a parachute before…
Ten years in La Chaux-de-Fonds
I have known Lada Mamedova for a long time, who came to Switzerland after defending her doctorate in art history in Moscow (where she was born in 1971). The woman worked in Geneva, teaching mainly for seven years at the University. In particular, he created a seminar there dedicated to Swiss art. A subject that interests him. Married to a colleague, Gabriel Umstätter, the professor later went through the Museum of Art and History (MAH) for the first time and also through the former Museum of Ethnography (MEG). The Lada was very visible at the Museum of Fine Arts in La Chaux-de-Fonds, where I often went to see it. He lasted ten years as the head of this seemingly peripheral institution, where he had succeeded Edmond Charrière. A decade in which he will have made major exhibitions, such as those dedicated to Olivier Mosset, Blaise Cendrars or Soviet design.
A successful exhibition
Lada then applied for the position of chief curator at the Geneva MAH, then headed by Jean-Yves Marin. I’m not sure that was a good idea. When he was chosen over many candidates, he found himself in an institution as light as a tank truck, where a small decision (when there is one at the end!) takes an infinite amount of time. A historian will have succeeded in reconstructing the hanging of a floor set with fine art in a clever way. We also owe a successful exhibition at the Rath Museum, such as “Silences”. Recently, he even presented “Style and image” at the Museum of Art and History, made of pieces of rope. Demonstrations using his Russian connections. The Slavic contribution has remained very important to him.
“He shows a keen interest in important questions related to the role of creators and makers, and their contribution to solving ethical, social and environmental challenges in a rapidly changing world.”
HEAD in its press release
I do not know what Lada Umstätter will do at the head of HEAD, an institution for which I have never felt any sympathy, perhaps for lack of sympathy. For now, the final release remains a small masterpiece in the language of wood. Better to judge! “He shows a keen interest in important questions related to the role of creators and makers, and their contribution to solving ethical, social and environmental challenges in a rapidly changing world.” And the rest I will give you! All this, as Molière would say, is nothing but rigmarole. The important thing is that Lada, which I personally like very much, was preserved. Of course, he will do a good, solid job, contrary to the opinions expressed by the leaders. And too bad if it won thanks to its “collaborative management that calls for common sense”! Words that make me question the intelligence of press release writers…
Play with collections
Where I feel most concerned is with MAH. Lada represented the last bastion of science in an institution that now wants to be anti-academic. The exhibitions entrusted in 2021 to Jakob Lena Knebl, then in 2022 to Jean-Hubert Martin are proof of this. It was shuffling cards and playing with collections. Marc-Olivier Wahler’s vision is to create “the museum of tomorrow” by throwing yesterday’s museum into the sea. A certain iconoclasm suddenly seems to be the order of the day. The newspaper “Genava”, which few people read, has disappeared. Rather it is a matter of creating celebratory events in the hope of one day seeing the construction (or excavation) of a new MAH. And let it be said among us to be able to run with Lausanne, which has just won with the introduction of one of the last stages of Platform10.
A difficult series
Who will inherit Lada? Will he really be changed? It is permissible to ask a question. Since the distant time of Jean-Yves Marin, there is no longer Mr. or Mrs. Archeology. Christian Rümelin’s graphic art office series spans time. Will management want to hire someone like Lada, who has been resisting for years? Our Ministry of Culture, where everything seems to be shaking, will it be affected by this unexpected departure? The answer can be long, even by default in a city where MEG itself today seems to be dormant for lack of direction. Lada probably represented the past for the present MAH. But we would also like there to be a scientific future in rue Charles-Galland.
Born in 1948, Etienne Dumont he studied in Geneva which did not benefit him. Latin, Greek, right. A failed lawyer, he concentrated on journalism. Often in cultural sections, he worked from March 1974 to May 2013 at the “Tribune de Genève”, starting by talking about cinema. Then came fine art and books. Other than that, as you can see, there is nothing to report.More information