Swiss artists fight fine for naked performance in 'Noseland'

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Swiss artists fight fine for naked performance in 'Noseland'
A still from the video of the 2017 "Nudeland" performance". Image: Nudeland

Freedom of artistic expression may be enshrined in the Swiss constitution, but that didn't stop officials in the canton of Aargau from fining participants in a naked art performance held in the fictional country of Noseland.


The performance called “Nudeland” held back in summer 2017 was organized by Swiss artist Thomas Zollinger – the man behind last year’s naked cultural festival in downtown Zurich.

Nudeland saw Zollinger and five other performers wandering, rolling or simply crouching in a meadow in the commune of Schöftland in rural Aargau (video footage here).

"Nudeland" was performed in the fictitious country of Noseland. Image: Nudeland

It also featured Swiss writer Bruno Schlatter – the owner of the land on which the performance took place and the self-styled king of the “anarchist monarchy” of Noseland, a fictional country which is part art project and part political exercise.

Read also: Thomas Zollinger's 2015 interview with The Local

But the 2017 Nudeland performance was interrupted after 45 minutes when a neighbour called police to complain.

Two local officials then turned up and fined five of the performers 100 Swiss francs (€90) each for improper conduct. Schlatter was spared as he was wearing a cape, according to Zollinger.

Zollinger argues the fines make no sense. “Firstly, being naked is not a statutory offence and secondly definitely not when it’s connected to art,” he told Swiss news site 20 Minuten.

Zollinger and two of the women fined during the performance originally tried to appeal directly to the Schöftland town hall but were rebuffed.

Now they have taken the matter to court with a hearing set for January 11th. They want the fines cancelled and damages of 200 Swiss francs to be paid out.

They also want Schöftland council to be made to give permission for the staging of the two-hour Nudeland performance on the same piece of land for the next two years.

That land, which measures 30 metres by 70 metres, has been named by Schlatter as the country of Noseland. While Schlatter has nominated himself king, the “country” also has 240 ministers and boasts a 28-page constitution with a strong human rights focus.

Artist Alina Kopytsa during the second edition of the "Body and Freedom Festival" in Zurich in August 2018. Photo: AFP




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