The Kunsthaus Zug is building a ship for tolerance

With the project Ship of Tolerance by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, the Kunsthaus Zug invites the public to reflect on the themes of tolerance and respect. The Kunsthaus is thus offering an artistic contribution to one of society’s major current topics. The participatory project by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov provides a tangible experience of tolerance through joint action with others.

First realized in the oasis town of Siwa in Egypt in 2005, the Ship of Tolerance has meanwhile made appearances in such widely diverse locations as Venice, St Moritz, Havana, Miami, Moscow and New York. Now it is in Zug: a region which ‒ with residents from more than 140 nations ‒ is living proof of how the most varied cultures and life designs can coexist peacefully. But Zug is also a region whose economy is subject to global tensions. So it is exactly the right place for a further realization of the Ship of Tolerance project.

With the Ship of Tolerance, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov seek to bring people of different continents, cultures, and identities together by actively involving them in the project. Respect towards foreign cultures and ideas and acceptance of differences is to be attained by means of joint action.
Overwhelming participation

The preparations are in full swing. A wooden ship is to be built, some twenty meters long and five and a half wide, with a mast eleven meters high. Mounted on a raft, the vessel will circulate on Lake Zug. The sail will be made up of 120 individually painted elements. Where is the journey headed? Who will take part? When the project got underway, there were still a lot of unanswered questions. What has meanwhile taken place is a true success story: some 115 school classes from public and private schools ranging in age from kindergarten to upper school, as well as vocational schools and numerous social organizations are all participating. The project is being backed on a broad scale by political authorities and committees.
A decisive element of the project concept is the exploration of the topic of tolerance in school classes in advance under the direction of the Kunsthaus Zug’s museum education department. This educational work has already begun. The children and teens are visualizing their personal messages on the theme; in June they will paint sail pictures based on their ideas. Some one thousand sail pictures will thus be produced and will not only bedeck the Ship of Tolerance but also be presented in installations in the city of Zug and other communities. The ship, for its part, will be constructed starting in mid-August in the Lake Zug basin by a team of technicians working with apprentices from the vocational training center GIBZ (Gewerblich-industrielles Bildungszentrum Zug) and unemployed persons.

The project partners are: public and private schools of the Canton of Zug, GGZ@Work, Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft des Kantons Zug (a non-profit association of the canton of Zug); Kantonaler Frauenbund (the cantonal women’s association); GIBZ, Gewerblich-industrielles Bildungszentrum Zug (the commercial-industrial vocational training centre of Zug); IBA, Integrationsbrückenangebot, Zug (an organization offering integration measures); Let’s Talk Zug; PH Zug, Pädagogische Hochschule Zug (Zug college of education); the City of Zug; the Canton of Zug; German courses of the department of social services for asylum seekers of the cantonal social welfare department; HALLE 44, Baar; ELG Cham, Eltern-LehrerInnen-Gruppe, Cham (Cham parent-teacher group); the Ilya and Emilia Kabakov Foundation, the Zuger Messe (the Zug Trade Fair), and many more.

Festive inauguration and events

The Ship of Tolerance will be inaugurated in Zug on Saturday, 10 September in cooperation with “Let’s Talk”, a day of encounter and getting acquainted for old and new residents of the city and region. On Sunday, 11 September, a concert will take place in Lorzensaal in Cham with musically gifted children and adolescents from all over the world who will travel to Zug with the help of a charitable foundation. Over the course of the subsequent three weeks, the ship will dock at various towns on Lake Zug, accompanied by further events revolving around the topic of tolerance. It will then be placed on view at the Zug Trade Fair as a special exhibit, where visitors will also be welcome to come on board. As a guest of the Zug Trade Fair, the City of Zug will tailor its presentation to the theme. Finally, the ship will be given a permanent home at a suitable location in the Canton of Zug, where it will serve as a playground, a place of encounter, and a symbol of active tolerance.
Ilya and Emilia Kabakov

The Kabakovs’ installations have consistently attracted the attention of the art world. As far back as 1993, they represented Russia at the Venice Biennale with an installation called The Red Pavilion. In 2008 they were awarded the Praemium Imperiale – the “Nobel Prize in art” – by the Japanese imperial house. In 2014 they had the opportunity to show the installation The Strange City at the Grand Palais in Paris for which it had been specially conceived. In 2017 a retrospective will present their work at Tate Modern in London, where the Ship of Tolerance will once again be on the show.
Several projects carried out with the Kunsthaus Zug (exhibitions, publications), as well as the Drinking Fountain of 2003 on Zug’s station square, testify to the close artistic bond the artist duo has developed with Zug over more than fifteen years.

Further information, image material, and arrangement of interviews and photo dates:

Raffaella Manferdini, Head of Administration 
Phone: 041 725 33 44