Popular Helvetica_Listen

Art, Lecture series, Roma

Encounters, listening sessions and visions of popular music in Switzerland and Italy



Art, Lecture series

Encounters, listening sessions and visions of popular music in Switzerland and Italy

Popular Helvetica ‚Äď from folk traditions to new urban rituals is a research project of the Swiss Institute in Rome on the meaning and transformations of so-called ¬ępopular culture¬Ľ filtered through one of its key languages: music. In this sense, the project examines how the concept of popular music, from a shared legacy of local traditions, has ventured in recent decades into the complex subdivisions of pop subcultures and niches. This is a process for which Switzerland offers one of the most meaningful

overviews in Europe: its position at the hub of different cultural routes (Italian, German, French) and a history made up of territorial micro-realities with a capacity for dialogue with similar experiences taking place outside the national borders, have made the country a case often cited and debated among enthusiasts, yet seldom explored in a more organic, analytical way. Through different cycles of encounters, listening sessions, performances and field research projects, Popular Helvetica ‚Äď from folk traditions to new urban rituals attempts to shed light on one of the areas that best describe the syncretic character of the Swiss country-world, and its role in the present developments of global popular culture.


The first phase of the research is a series of four encounters entitled LISTEN in which the audience will experience the particular dynamic of this path through direct listening to phonographic materials, introduced by Swiss and Italian experts and accompanied by visual documentation (videos, images, artworks, publications) to recreate the ideal atmosphere for each session. The result should be a trajectory that step by step takes the listener from the folk tradition of the Appenzell to the latest musical developments in cities like Zurich and Geneva, passing through the country communes of the 1960s and the postindustrial reflux of the punk and postpunk era.

More than just a cycle of listening sessions, the LISTEN encounters are conceived as immersive experiences in which the leading role is played by sound; the contributions of experts from Switzerland and Italy will help to draw parallels and comparisons between what was produced in the two countries during the historical periods examined, to trigger a dialogue capable of engaging listeners on an emotional as well as an informative level.


The LISTEN encounters that will take place in the spaces of the Swiss Institute will be followed by a period of field research that will bring the organizers of Popular Helvetica ‚Äď from folk traditions to new urban rituals to document the places, faces, recollections and testimony that form the basis of the entire project. Finally, the protagonists of the research will be involved in another cycle of performances, concerts and live happenings, as the ideal conclusion of a voyage in geographical space and time.


Thursday 13 March 2014 Hippie utopias in the Alps
with Matteo Guarnaccia and Samuel Mumenthaler ISR, 19:00, free entrance

Thursday 27 March 2014 Post-punk dystopias
with Vittore Baroni and Lurker Grand ISR, 19:00, free entrance

Thursday 17 April 2014
The synthetic metropolis of the night with Il Duka and Marie-Avril Berthet ISR, 19:00, free entrance

Tuesday 20 May 2014
Ghosts and yodels in the Appenzell hills
with Valerio Corzani and Tina Uhlmann