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Kurt Hutterli | The Museum of Unknown Civilizations


The Museum of Unknown Civilizations is a project started in Oliver BC by transplanted artist Kurt Hutterli.  The museum follows a childhood dream of the artist to explore the unknown in objects encountered in museums as a child.  Years later, myth comes to life through recycled materials creating mysterious and invented artifacts.  These works are designed to make the viewer ask questions ordinarily overlooked, to prod the viewer to seek answers to the unknown.  The work seems to probe an uncertain, uncomfortable future.

Kurt Hutterli emigrated to Oliver, Canada with his wife Marianne in 1996 from Bern, Switzerland leaving behind a stable and successful career as a school teacher, artist and writer. Kurt is a multi-faceted artist; a builder, a painter and a writer, often combining some combination of his tool box when working on a new piece of work, all traits of a Dada artist, which Hutterli is foremost. As a form of inspiration, it is important to note Dada was an artistic and literary movement that began in Switzerland as a reaction to the First World War and the ridiculous state of affairs by creating equally nonsensical work as a form of protest.  While art forms come and go, Dada appears to be an art form with no end in sight, with Dada artist’s like Hutterli using its form to create discourse on subjects that are important to the time.

This exhibition is Kurt’s second in Penticton.  In 2003 the then Art Gallery of the South Okanagan hosted ‘A Colourful Meeting”, an eclectic collection of brightly coloured display made from found and made objects. The exhibition was a precursor to this exhibition in ways.  It was around this time that Kurt began a new project entitled The Museum of Unknown Civilizations.  This exhibition will showcase Hutterli’s latest installment of this ongoing project and fifteen years of work. 

On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff and friends of the Penticton Art Gallery, I would like to thank Mr. Urs V. Strausak, Consul General of Switzerland, for his financial support enabling the publication of a catalogue to document this exhibition.

Glenn Clark