Friday, 13 December 2013

Zurich Trips and The Splendid Coincidence

During the days and weeks leading up to this expedition to return to Gigerland, arrangements had been made and co-ordinated from New York by Les Barany to enable me to visit Carmen and HR Giger at their home in Zurich.

As stated at the beginning of this chapter, all of these events were taking place only a very short while after my birthday of 2007 so, as you may imagine, with this trip to Zurich now becoming a reality, there came a sense of further celebration and excitement, despite my increasing age.

It was also whilst making plans at home that suggestions were made by Hans Kunz and Marco Witzig during our email exchanges, regarding hotel ideas for me.

Out of the choices gained, I decided to book myself into a hotel by the name of ‘Splendid’, as this seemed suitably named at the least.
Coupled with advertising itself as having a piano bar for evening entertainment, my mind was then swayed toward choosing this hotel for my adventures in Zurich to be based from.

As time would tell, in a very short amount of time from my arrival at Zurich’s main railway station, the choice I made was in itself a splendid one.

During the late afternoon of Sunday, 18th of March, I disembarked the train from Basel into the stretching vastness of Zurich’s Hauptbahnhof and walked first to one of the many cafĂ©s inside the station’s concourse.

Once refreshed, after my morning’s travels, I gathered myself and my belongings together and made some enquiries as to which direction I should follow.

I had been told that the area of Neiderdorf was only a short walk from Zurich’s main station and, as it was, after ensuring that I left the station at the correct exit, I soon found myself on the other side of the river Limmat with the wheels of my suitcase hobbling over the cobbled stones of the old streets as I made my way toward Rosengrasse 5.

By the time I reached the hotel’s front door, I was feeling the full affect of the transfer of vibrations from the clattering wheels of my suitcase all the way up and through my now weary arms and shoulders.
Next, to be faced with the challenge of negotiating my way through a narrow doorway and into an equally narrow, wooden panelled corridor, with my accompanying luggage catching awkwardly on every protruding corner as we barged our way through, it was by then seeming quite an ordeal just to reach the reception desk.

With eventual success, I was greeted by a very pleasant lady who entered the reception area with a wave and a smile.

After soon establishing between us that we would only be able to communicate in the one language, this lady then switched effortlessly to an evenly paced but precisely spoken English voice and promptly handed me a registration card to complete.

This piece of paper I had just been given, although small in size, seemed to have been laden with as many written questions possible and each question written in four different languages with very little room to leave any response.

By that time, I had started to recognise the situation of my weariness from the day’s travels coupled with the seemingly endless ordeals I was facing just to register my already booked and paid for accommodation at this hotel, to the point where it had become a topic of humorous conversation between the lady in reception and I.

Within what seemed to be the remaining few square millimetres of space on this registration card, lay the closing question of the final category, “For Aliens?” it enquired.
“Yes!” I exclaimed, “I am an Alien, and this is for me”

It was with some exasperation, I think, and final admittance to being the stranger in that country and to its customs of overly detailed hotel guest registration cards, that I called out “Yes” in response to that final question.

Naturally, I saw the immediate coincidence that had arisen between the question on the registration card and in my being in Switzerland for my time with HR Giger and his work; so, I thought I might add some of this content, hopefully with humour, to our conversation in the hotel’s reception by remarking on this.
“Actually” I began, “you could say that I may well qualify as being one of Giger’s aliens.”

I followed on by giving a brief outline as to why I was then currently in Switzerland and I talked about the exhibition in Basel I had just attended on the previous day and about my passion for Giger Art.

The words next spoken by this polite and pleasant lady, from the other side of the hotel’s reception desk, had quite an affect.
“I am Giger’s ex-wife” she slowly replied, with a knowing smile that could be heard while she spoke.

To the point at which I had never been so amazed by a person’s response to me during the entirety of my life that had passed before that moment, I was truly amazed.

I was also totally impressed of course, by the events and revelations that were taking place in front of me, or indeed that I was taking part in, the only other participant in fact and without doubt, to my mind, the greatest beneficiary of all that was occurring.

Still as yet to have fully emerged from my then state of mind with a firm grip on the reality of this event; I remember my first attempt at doing so was to ask this lady her name, “Mia,” she replied, again with her smile that could be heard as she spoke.

At this point overwhelmed, I asked Mia for confirmation, just to ensure that what I thought I heard really had been spoken.

For what I thought necessary to prove the validity of my own previous claims to Mia, I produced from my luggage a couple of printed out emails from Les Barany which related to my then current trip to Switzerland.

Conversations between Mia and I travelled further as we discussed events and experiences from past and present, with all of this hanging from a newly discovered thread of common ground that we found to both share.

I felt privileged to be told some tales from the Gigers’ time at Shepperton Studios, while I offered to Mia some viewing of photographs I had with me from HR Giger’s previous exhibition, in Vienna.

Soon after the pot of coffee that we were drinking had emptied, I was able to consolidate my thoughts on that afternoon’s remarkable events. 

It was whilst alone in my hotel room for the first time that the pieces were fitted together.

On my journey toward visiting HR Giger and Carmen Giger at their home in Zurich, I had been booked into my hotel room by Mia Bonzanigo, partner to HR Giger during the days of Alien conception, cinematic ground breaking and genre pioneering art and design concepts.

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