Zurich. Icy-cold Thursday evening. H 20:00. Appointment with my colleague Ursina in Bellevue. As usual, I have my standard 5 minutes of delay. It is freezing outside and, after kissing and greetings, we walk with expeditive pace towards the suggestive Niederdorf. As we turn and enter the Marktgasse, an unusual activity can be immediately detected: it is the evening of the vernissage of “Sex in the City” at LUMAS. Guests and curious passers-by are gathered in the cosiness of the small side street as well as in the gallery.
As we step inside, one can distinctly perceive that LUMAS is a one-of-a kind gallery. The crowd is varied and mixed – from students and youngsters to wealthy couples and first-time buyers. What strikes me the most is, however, the light and brightness of the space itself – colorful walls hold pictures that capture images in a kaleidoscopic explosion of colours.My sight is awakened all at sudden: those pictures demand the attention of the attendees and the more I walk, the more I find myself hypnotized by those high-quality prints.
On the ground and lower floor, pictures from the ongoing permanent collections are welcoming the guests. But it is upstairs, in a vaguely boudoir-inspired environment, that the exhibition “Sex in the City” unfolds….
Uncertain and curious at the same time, I peep out from the top of the stairs with the sensation I am unconsciously wearing the hat of an improvised voyuer: what I see when I emerge are some of the most sensual images of women I have seen exposed in over a year. Famous faces are mixed with anonymous fragments of urban city life. Obviously, because of the title and the theme of the exhibition itself, the recall of Carrie Bradshaw and her adventures in the Big Apple is even too obvious. What I see is rather the “average” modern woman, fighting in the urban jungle, armed with stiletto hills and red lipstick. The solitude embedded in each picture is gently concealed by their beauty, but nevertheless is very strong.
‘”Sex” in the city, not “Love” in the city’ – I remind myself… is that so? There is always something gloomy in each picture, from the girls out of Formento&Formento’s tales to the models depicted in decadent scenarios by Kai Stuht & Miles Cockfield. Even the world-famous models captured by Michael Comte look desolated and lost. Each picture stages a story and yet, it is a silent moment of sheer beauty and balance.
I have the pleasure to meet Kai Stuht during the evening. He is surrounded by the staff of the gallery, a girls-only crew rigorously dressed in black. I am kindly introduced to him by Bettina, a Master student in History of Art at Zurich University, who has recently joined the gallery. I ask him straightaway where some of his pictures were shot, as the scenario reminds of some abandoned villas in Sicily. He explains that his location-hunter found the place in Austria, not far from Wien. Mr. Stuth is an acclaimed jet-set photographer, creative director and trendsetter. VIPs such as Lady Gaga, Kelly Slater and David Guetta, along many other celebrities, have been posing for him. We have a delightful conversation and I soon realize that – besides the staff – there is only me in the whole gallery. Definitely time to go! But with flat studded shoes is pleasant to run home and dwell on the battle that awaits me, Ursina, Bettina and thousands other women in less than 8 hours.
“The best advice remains to purchase a piece of art not as a calculated investment but rather for the joy and love of the work itself”. LUMAS’s mission statement can be summarized like this. Simply.
LUMAS is more than a an art gallery chain: it is an overall place where contemporary photographic editions are made affordable. A place where art become accessible – for everyone.