Pedro Wirz. Diplomatic Immunity


The 2023 Bally Artist Award has been won by Pedro Wirz, a Swiss-Brazilian artist born in 1981 who lives in Zurich, with a project that questions the privileges conferred by social class, hierarchical power, and the seemingly archetypal, immutable positions that characterize society.

The installation Diplomatic Immunity on show in MASI Lugano’s Palazzo Reali venue (from 4th June to 23rd July) consists of 12 sculptures and three wall-mounted bas-reliefs. The 12 busts symbolize positions of leadership (king, president, pope, rabbi, etc.), each reflecting a particular hierarchy of power: economic, religious, political or socio-cultural. Produced using scrap materials from the artist’s studio, the precarious aesthetic of the busts is an allegory for the hollow, illusory nature of the systems they represent. The box-like bas-reliefs are part of a series the artist began working on in 2019. They evoke television screens or smartphones and represent landscapes invaded by humans in different ways, ecosystems rendered uniform by technological intervention.

The installation leaves visitors just enough space to move around, and the busts are almost like obstacles that have to be bypassed with care. The work thus challenges the dichotomy between competition and cooperation and questions what a "more sustainable" society would really look like, given that this notion is often only considered in economic terms. "To embark on a more sustainable existence, we have to face up to the reality and difficulties involved in cohabiting on the earth. [...] We must stop thinking as individuals and start thinking like a species, that is, inhabitants of the earth, earthlings, brothers and sisters destined to coexist on this planet side by side, respecting one another," explained Pedro Wirz.


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