Memory has so often been compared to a house. The comparison is in fact so self-evident that it almost seems stale. However, it is a rare experience to actually encounter a house that makes the visitor feel as if he were entering the inside of a head, memory and experience made tangible. Everyone who has every visited Spiegelberg, Andreas Züst's house, will know what I am talking about. The Spiegelberg was an autobiography in the form of a house—from the garden where select specimens of rare species were blossoming, to the basement where bottles of port where stored alongside the house owner's psychedelic painting experiments, up to the attic where thousands of books, preferably first editions, stood next to astonishing curiosities, a narwhale tusk for instance. In every corner you encountered traces and evidence of Züst's various passions. Züst was always a lot of things at once: glaciologist, weather watcher, photographer, painter, creature of the night, publisher, film producer, bibliophile, art collector, and patron of the arts. As multi-faceted Züst's endeavours might seem at first glance, he was always guided by the same passion: the search for knowledge, or collecting which was one and the same thing to him, like to an old-school natural scientist who hoards specimens of typical and rare species on his expeditions and excursions in order to preserve and catalogue them. Züst's collections on the Spiegelberg were chronicles of his investigations of the world. His unique polar collection pointed to his stays in Antarctica; his record collection were a document of his interest in popular and underground cultures; his art collection exemplified the development of the art scene of the late 1970ies to the 1990ies, in particular with its mix of masterworks and mediocrity; whereas the thousands of books on every conceivable and inconceivable subject testified to the boundless curiosity of Züst. His sense of objects as tangible knowledge was indebted to both art and natural sciences and marked a nexus where their perceived antagonism was dissolved.
Photography was the perfect medium for Züst, since it combined investigating and collecting. Züst's photographic works are series of images that exhaustively describe phenomena in their intoxicating, confusing, sometimes even absurd diversity. The unique character of his photographic work becomes apparent in the various strands of his research, which now start become apparent. Whether he photographed the denizens of Zurich's high-cultural and subcultural habitats, which Züst has catalogued in "Bekannte Bekannte," or the play of electrical light on the fog, or roundabouts whose empty center provokes our will to design – the spirit behind these series is always the same, which becomes apparent in their synchronicity. In his own way Züst was actively resisting the division of the world in exclusive areas for specialists. Knowledge was one for him. His vision of the world in its calm generosity and wholeness is more acute than ever.
Born 1947 in Bern. Studied natural sciences at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Research assistant in climatology and glaciology in Canada, Greenland and the Swiss Alps. From 1979, numerous solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad. 1991–94, coproduction of Peter Mettler’s film “Picture of Light”. Died August 7, 2000.