THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT
Geneva’s cultural landscape underwent a profound transformation following the closure of nearly all the art squats in 2007. It then became vital to find sustainable solutions to continue the various activities and opportunities these art squats provided through their flexible operations. EoFA is one of the first spaces to emerge in the city for these purposes. After several years of negotiations, EoFA opened in 2012. While continuously striving to incorporate all the major components its founders’ desire (studios for local artists, spaces that can accommodate production of large scale works, and spaces for rehearsals and exhibitions), it currently fills an urgent need: affordable housing for artists and organizations coming to exhibit or perform in Geneva. EoFA also provides an official residency program for artists; something that was severely lacking in an international city like Geneva.
Nested in the heart of Europe, yet remaining outside the EU, Switzerland, particularly Geneva, has been a place of asylum for intellectuals around the world over since the European wars of religion of the 16th century. Erasmus, Mikhail Bakunin, Hannah Arendt, Bertolt Brecht, Thomas Mann, Robert Musil and Paul Klee are just some of the noteworthy people to have lived in Geneva. Switzerland’s neutral stance allows Geneva to flourish in a space removed from international tension. Reflection and dialogue amongst nations are welcomed, whether it be political discourse with the UN and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), scientific discourse with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), or economic discourse through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Economic Forum (WEF). Taking into consideration the important influence of these fields on contemporary artistic practices, it is essential to give international artists as well as researchers and intellectuals the opportunity to come to Geneva to develop their research. This intellectual presence is also undeniably beneficial for the community as well as the standing of the city, the state, and the country on the global stage. These interactions benefit Geneva to a great degree.
Situated in the neighbourhood of Carouge, and home of EoFA, the Maison Baron is ideally located between the downtown core and the suburbs of Geneva, in the industrial zone La Praille. At a proximity of 5 km from Haute Savoie and 20 km from the Ain Departments in France, this industrial sector spans an unprecedented 230 hectare zone in Europe. This is the epicentre of a large-scale adjustment project for the greater urban area surrounding Geneva, which includes areas in France and in the State of Vaud. Consequently, the City of Geneva requested EoFA to be one of the cultural beacons that stimulates culture within this area.