The patience of Gstaad’s residents has been seriously tested in recent weeks, with Mirage Gstaad causing some controversy. There’s been a huge response to American artist Doug Aitken's installation, which has brought crowds of visitors flocking to see it.
This has taken everyone by surprise. Fortunately, managers of the Luma Foundation were quick to respond and find solutions. As a result, the overwhelming success of this work of art prevails, despite any issues.
The mirror house in Gstaad, has attracted international attention in recent weeks, with an enormous response by the press and on social media. Naturally, this has taken its toll and, at times, there were so many visitors that the local traffic was chaos. On some days, nearby residents were barely able to access their own homes due to cars blocking the way, bringing tourists, art enthusiasts and inquisitive visitors to the town.
Unsurprisingly, the municipality of Saanen and Gstaad Saanenland Tourism (GST) have received complaints. The Luma Foundation managing the mirror house has also been made aware of the problem and has made every effort to find simple, fast and effective solutions.
The route from Gruben station
The organisers have always made it clear that no parking is allowed by the work of art and cars should only be parked at Schönried station. Using public transport has also been recommended from the outset, with the quickest route via Gruben train station. In addition, signposts mark the way and information has been provided from the very beginning. Those in charge of Mirage Gstaad at the Luma Foundation have emphasised that they’re in regular contact with the municipality and the police to prevent traffic problems.
A tremendous opportunity for Gstaad
GST director Sébastien Epiney has praised the installation: "This artwork represents a huge opportunity for Gstaad as it’s unique." He went on to say that, from a tourist point of view, he’s very happy that a mutually acceptable solution has now been found for the temporary traffic problems: Traffic is being managed with clear and visible signage and the support of security personnel over the peak season. Epiney said: "This work of art adds real value to our destination, but naturally, it shouldn't pose problems for residents."
Making an exception in the name of art
Some critics are also concerned that permission has been granted for this type of structure in the agricultural zone. Mayor Toni von Grünigen said: "We’ve clearly looked into this and have made an exception in the name of art for a limited period of time. The application has also been approved by specialist bodies such as the Ornithological Institute, Sempach and the Federal Office for Civil Aviation. The Cantonal Office for Municipalities and Regional Planning has also granted approval. In two years’ time, the mirror house will have to be completely dismantled and the field restored to its original state.”
On balance, the overwhelming success of the Mirage Gstaad outweighs any issues it has caused, sending ripples of joy around the world and benefitting the destination of Gstaad. Or, as Epiney puts it, "Gstaad stands for art. Along with the many permanent exhibitions in museums and galleries, we always have transient works of art or events, often out in the countryside."
Based on AVS / Sabine Reber
Translated by Justine Hewson