Ursula Scherrer and Flo Kaufmann: Amidst

Swiss artists Ursula Scherrer and Flo Kaufmann present a video and sound installation with live performances at The Lab.

Event Details


The Lab
2948 16th Street, San Francisco, California United States


January 22, 2010 7:00 pm - January 31, 2010 6:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

For its first co-production with historic San Francisco art space The Lab, swissnex San Francisco presents “Amidst” by Ursula Scherrer and Flo Kaufmann: a shifting immersive labyrinth where image, sound and language are broken into particles, expanded, reassembled, refracted, relocated, regenerated. This installation work will also provide an environment for two exceptional live performances featuring avant-garde legends Shelley Hirsch and Fred Frith.


January 21 – 30 “Amidst” Installation exhibition

Ursula Scherrer (USA/CH) – video

Flo Kaufmann(CH) – sound

Regular exhibition hours: Wed-Sat 1-6pm


January 21 – Opening night

7:00 pm Pre-opening live concert performance ($5-15 sliding scale, free with The Lab membership)

Advance tickets available HERE.

8:30 pm Opening (free)

Performance line-up:

Shelley Hirsch (USA) – voice

Flo Kaufmann(CH) – live electronics

Ursula Scherrer (USA/CH) – live video


January 23 – Concert performance

8:00pm Live performance ($5-15 sliding scale, free with The Lab membership)

Advance tickets available HERE.

Performance line-up:

Shelley Hirsch (USA) – voice

Flo Kaufmann(CH) – live electronics

Ursula Scherrer (CH/USA) – live video

Fred Frith (USA) – guitar


“Amidst”: installation

Having explored various in-between states and locations with the works “Zwischen-land” and “Mittelland”, shown in Basel and Zurich, Swiss artists Ursula Scherrer and Flo Kaufmann continue their thematic series of collaborations with “Amidst”.

Ursula Scherrer’s 5-channel video projections are projected onto sheets of fabric hung from the ceiling, drawing the viewer into an architecture of images, colors and light. As representation of fleeting and indefinable presence, of everything that is “amidst.”  Venetian blinds pouring light and shadows slice the space. Wheat berries in a wind-blown field are slowed down to the point where they seem to be crawling up and down the fabric. A fluorescent lamp flickers, quietly trembling in rows, layered. A torrential rain shown upside down spreads like fire through the room.

The loops of each video channel are phasing against each other, changing their relationship slowly throughout the course of a day.

Flo Kaufmann creates the sound environment of the installation using homemade instruments and electronic effects. 5 speakers placed around and within the structure play their own textured track. Ever-shifting audiovisual alignments occur over time and according to one’s position in the space.

Kaufmann’s equipment is itself the source of sound: “cracked electronics” salvaged from a technological flotsam collected in dumpsters, found in flea markets or simply picked up from the streets.

As the visitors move through the environment, they become an integral element of the installation as they mark the landscape with their bodies, their shadows, their sound.

Each position within and outside of the maze of fabric offers a unique experience.


“Amidst”: concert performances

Hirsch, Kaufmann and Scherrer collaboratively manipulate the space. Unintended narratives unfold from various vantage points.

Shelley Hirsch, who will perform for the third time with Ursula Scherrer, sings and speaks in a voice capable of mercurial transformations as she viscerally inhabits the environment, changing personas, at times blending in like a chameleon, and at others defining herself as an outsider figure commenting, weaving together the audiovisual constructs thought up by Scherrer, Kaufmann and the viewers.

Flo Kaufmann samples Hirsch’s live singing, her captured voices becoming a Greek chorus as he mixes them with the soundtracks he distributes to the speakers installed across the instal
lation space. Are these voices indicators? Warnings?

Ursula Scherrer mixes her images live with an antiquated video mixer, manipulating the projectors to highlights one area of the installations, darkening another. She also use a handheld projector as a spotlight capturing Hirsch on her “journey” amid Amidst.

Scherrer, Hirsch and Kaufmann’s live audiovisual trio will be joined on their second performance (January 23) by exceptional guest Fred Frith – a  long-time resident of the Bay Area, the avant-garde legend and guitar luminary will add his own blend of sonics to an already potent brew of sound and vision


Ursula Scherrer is a Swiss video artist living in New York City. Her work has been shown in festivals, galleries and museums internationally. Scherrer has worked with the composers/musicians Shelley Hirsch, Michelle Nagai, Kato Hideki, Flo Kaufmann, Domenico Sciajno, Michael J. Schumacher, Monya Pletsch, among others, in the creation of video and sound installations, live performances and single-channel videos and she has collaborated with choreographer Liz Gerring. Together with Katherine Liberovskaya, Scherrer organizes OptoSonic Tea in New York, a series dedicated to the convergence of live visuals with live sounds. OptoSonic Tea on the Road has toured in Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Spain and Italy. Scherrer’s work has been shown at the New York Video Festival 2004, BAC 36th International Film and Video Festival, Brooklyn Museum of Art, at the Chelsea Art Museum, the d.u.m.b.o art festival 2005 and 2008, Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin, Dissonanze Festival in Rome, Live!iXem 2007 in Palermo, O’artoteca, Milan, 9e Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, Saint-Gervais Geneve, Tesla, Berlin, Tresor, Stuttgart,  Galerie Rachel Haferkamp, Cologne, Kunstraum im Walcheturm, Zürich, Plug-in, Basel, the Media Test Wall / MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, New Genre Festival 2008, Tulsa OK, Polli Talu Arts Center, Estonia, among others.

Flo Kaufmann lives and works in Solothurn, Switzerland as “bricoleur universal” sound and electronic engineer. A main topic in his work is converting technological flotsam like typewriters, vacuum cleaners or computers into electronic musical instruments. Dumpster diving and fleamarkets are often the start for new objects and instruments and generate a steady flow of obscure and fresh installations or concerts. Another important theme is mechanical sound recording in all its nuances, from homemade vinyl disc recordings to engraved 500ml beercans.

Shelley Hirsch is “an unorthodox, extraordinary fusion of vocalist, composer, and performance artist ” (Anne LeBaron) whose work encompasses story telling pieces, staged performances, compositions, improvisations, collaborations, installations, and radioplays, which have been presented on five continents. Her mostly solo performance pieces include the multimedia “O Little Town of East New York” and “For Jerry” (virtual duets with the late great Jerry Hunt). She is co composer, vocalist, librettist for Polly Cotton – both in duo form with collaborator, composer keyboard player Simon Ho and for their six-member ensemble. Hirsch can be heard on dozens of CDs including her  CDs “The Far In, Far Out Worlds of Shelley Hirsch” (Tzadik) and “Duets” with guitarist Kasuhisa Uchihashi (Innocent Records). Hirsch has performed hundreds of concerts of improvised music with great musicians including Anthony Coleman, Christian Marclay, Aki Onda, Ikue Mori, Toshio Kajiwara,  and Shahzad Ismailly. Hirsch has given  many workshops and masterclasses internationally and was invited guest composer/artist lecturer at Princeton University’s PhD Composers Colloquium.  Grants and fellowships include several from NEA and NYFA in music composition, new forms, inter arts and performance art categories, from Mary Flagler Carey Trust in the music for theater and recording categories and from NYSCA 2 in electronic music.

Fred Frith is a composer, improviser and multi-instrumentalist at the intersection of rock and new music. Co-founder of the British underground band Henry Cow (1968-78), he moved to New York in the late 1970s and came into contact with many of the musicians with whom he has since been associated, including John Zorn, Ikue Mori, Tom Cora, Zeena Parkins, and Bob Ostertag. In the 1980s, Fred began to write for dance, film, and theatre, which, in turn, led to his composing for the Rova Saxophone Quartet, Ensemble Modern, Arditti Quartet, Asko Ensemble, and many other groups, including his own critically acclaimed Guitar Quartet. Best known world-wide as an improvising guitarist, Fred has also performed in a variety of other contexts, playing bass in John Zorn’s Naked City, violin in Lars Hollmer’s Looping Home Orchestra, and guitar on recordings ranging from The Residents and René Lussier to Brian Eno and Amy Denio. Fred is the subject of Swiss and German filmmakers Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel’s award-winning documentary film, Step Across the Border, and he provided the score to another revered documentary, Rivers and Tides, about artist Andy Goldsworthy. Fred Frith is currently Professor of Composition and Head of the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

Event Photos