Curated by: Roger M. Buergel, Adnan Softić, Bettina Schuler

Johann Jacobs Museum, Zürich
14 Nov 2019 - 5 May 2020 

With works by: Dias & Riedweg, Eza Komla, Hira Nabi, Dierk Schmidt, Allan Sekula and Adnan Softić

“A Ship Will Not Come” is an exhibition devoted to the “sea voyage with an uncertain outcome” – which is not to say that an uncertain outcome necessarily has to be catastrophic. A ship might end up in a place you never intended to go, but where things are much better than you might have thought. Or the ship might not arrive to pick you up at all, and that’s fine, too. In other words, ships are associated with hope, but bad luck as well. And then there are of course the banal passages, the boring ones.

Switzerland is a seafaring nation and at home on the oceans. So much seems proven at least by film footage taken on the voyages of the “MS Basilea” in the 1950s and ’60s. Besides sea spray, clouds, wave crests and troughs, cargo loads of coffee and cocoa, or an entire herd of water buffalo, the images also document strange occurrences on land: In Massawa (Eritrea) an aging emperor descends from a Russian warship. Or the Swiss crew witness a parade during the Cultural Revolution in China – in which airplanes and trains (made of cardboard for the time being) are presented to an astonished crowd.

The “MS Basilea” footage is framed with artistic works. They tell of life and death on a refugee ship, or the attempt to portray Théodore Géricault’s painting “Raft of the Medusa” (1819) with contemporary means. They tell of the oppressive loneliness of a modern container ship, of winds and ocean currents in the Atlantic as a climatic prerequisite for the slave trade, as well as a cemetery of ships in Gadani (Pakistan), where the daunting steel vessels are dismantled into the individual components that will reenter the global commodity cycle.

With works by Dias & Riedweg, Eza Komla, Hira Nabi, Dierk Schmidt, Allan Sekula and Adnan Softić. 


With Eza Komla, Dierk Schmidt, Adnan Softić, Sophia Prinz and Roger M. Buergel


With Hira Nabi (live from Lahore), Adnan Softić and Roger M. Buergel