As the recipient of the Manor Art Award 2020, Denise Bertschi (b. 1983 in Aarau) continues to develop her project HELVÉCIA, Brazil (2017–2018), a body of work examining the trade relations of Swiss merchants in Brazil during the 19th century. The local perspectives gathered during her travels to the state of Bahia are contrasted with her most recent research on the Aargau protagonists. The latter take her to various depots and selected buildings in the city of Aarau, including the State Archives and Naturama Aargau.
Stored there are the collections, stuffed animals, photographs and documents donated by those who travelled to Brazil. As witnesses from afar, they serve as the basis for Bertschi’s works. At the time, those objects shaped the notion of the exotic; today, they allow one to draw conclusions about the colonial entanglements of Switzerland. Bertschi’s detailed investigative work is worth one’s while: she shows us early evidence of a gradually globalising world and, in the process, reminds us that history is to be constantly reread and reinterpreted.