Sunrise — Sunset

Johanna Kotlaris

May 29 — July 28, 2016

+15 Window Exhibition

Sunrise – Sunset is made of nine pairs of new, but customized, Nike shoes.

Our everyday objects change along with us. Sunrise – Sunset is a piece from a series of works that use commodities to investigate the object-obsessed contemporary society.

The relationship between the concepts of being and having, identity and self-image lie in the core of the artist’s inquiry. Kotlaris is interested in the way we consume and define ourselves through this behaviour. In post-industrial society it has become common to regularly exchange our objects. They are rarely being repaired and treasured for multiple years. We own useful and unnecessary things in all shapes, colours and materials. Sometimes they are being used only once in a lifetime.

Sport shoes have become the embodiment of a fresh, dynamic, young and style-conscious self. Today they can be even worn with a suit. Kotlaris sees them as an epitome of a hyperactive Western world, and symbol of its rush.

The American existential psychologist Rollo May once said: It is an ironic habit of human beings to run raster when we have lost our way. According to May the human need for possession of goods and wealth is an attempt to escape mortal agony. The awareness about our mortality prompts us to make more out of our time, to experience life, to feel happiness. A happiness we hope to find in things. But the felicity we feel through the acquisition of objects is only ephemeral. It is a fallacy that lacks on sustainability, and makes us feel compelled to repeat our behaviour over and over.


Johanna Kotlaris is a Swiss artist who lives and works in Zürich. She studied at the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam where she won the yearly academy award with her final project. Starting from graphic design Kotlaris’ practice has over the years naturally turned into a more holistic and interdisciplinary approach. Mostly through photography, video, performance and printed matter, she comments on, investigates and explores the complexity of society and the individual within it. The paradigms of materiality and immateriality are recurring in her work. In 2014 Kotlaris was artist in residence at the Tweede Nassau Ateliers, shortly after she received a young talent fellowship by Pro Helvetia the Swiss Arts Council that took place throughout 2015.