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At first look the son of a protestant minister from the Zurich countryside and the son of a mountain farmer from the Swiss heartland have little in common. They live in two different worlds. One is an economist, a lawyer and an asset manager, the other is a tropical agronomist and a storyteller. One is at home in the international financial markets, while the other is at home in the developing world. Actually Ueli Dubs and Al Imfeld could be rivals, but, in fact, they are friends, and have been for years.

In French there is a saying: “Les extrêmes se touchent.” It stands for the knowledge that one only has to go so far to return to the point of departure. Ueli Dubs and Al Imfeld come from different directions. They meet in the unison of their questions: Where do we come from? Where are we going? What is the reason for our being? And what is it that sustains and supports us? They search for their answers at the edges, in those areas where man and animal, nature and civilization, order and chaos converge. Al Imfeld calls the legends and myths with which he grew up “relics and survivals.”  And he found them all over the world. Ueli Dubs gives new meanings to the disconnected, the discarded and the displaced, in his objects.

The alpine world from which Al Imfeld stems is no longer intact and presumably it never was entirely safe or sound. The business world in which Ueli Dubs is active has long lost sight of any points of reference and is out of control. There is no way back into an archaic security. Modernization without remembering our roots is even more misleading. To withstand the tension between these extremes is difficult. It is possible to banish fears and to attempt to contain destructive forces - but, the feeling of endangerment remains.

For Ueli Dubs the expression “Alp Magic” reflects a yearning to hold in its entirety that has been broken. Legends and myths act as points of reference in his search for lost Wholeness. In testimonials of long-established popular piety and examples of traditional craftsmanship, Ueli Dubs sees traces that point out the directions to follow. His mountain friend has become a companion who fully understands his questions. The numerous small artworks that Dubs has created from found objects of different origins over the past years express in their own way what moves Ueli Dubs.

Dr. Klara Obermüller



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