Managed by the Hermit Foundation and the Society of Friends of Art on the grounds of a former monastery, the Center for Metamedia-Plasy organizes programs and projects where the visual arts in traditional and new media, music, performance, theater all have the possibility to be interlinked -- "metamedia" intimates the creative potential of this informal and organic confluence. Above all, the Center seeks to provide a setting which fosters these collaborations, communication in general, and experimentation.

(A passage from an essay in the Meridian Crossings catalogue may add to your sense of the Center's atmosphere and of the ideas that led to its founding; to skip ahead to the excerpt click [here].)

Yearly international symposia have been held at the Center since 1992, with all together more than 350 artists taking part. Over the years, other types of projects were added to the program: workshops, exhibitions, festivals, meetings, and most recently, residencies.

More information about the Center continues on the pages listed on the buttons to the left above. For application information, please go to the Residency page or to the Project page. Art projects prepared at the Center for Metamedia-Plasy for the Internet can be seen by pressing the WWW Projects icon. We would be interested in hearing your comments about our program and this web site, and in hearing from organizations working on similar activities: please be sure to contact us.

The Center for Metamedia-Plasy operates thanks to the generous support of many institutions and individuals, foremost through the the Prince Bernhard Fund's assistance with the purchase of technical equipment and, since 1996, the vital support from the Ost-West Program of the Pro Helvetia Foundation.

passage from
"Midnight Meridians
from Plasy to the Land of Queen Maud
or Northern Lights and Southern Cross", Meridian Crossings, 1995


Hermit is a name that can mislead. The foundation is not involved with sequestering itself from the world or escaping from reality or experimenting with current esoterics. The Hermit Foundation's Center for Metamedia does however engage in a certain departure from the banality of post-industrial, neurotic, consumer society in its search for a quiet place where communication and discussion can occur. Real dialogue is heard and comprehended in seclusion, far from the noise of advertising and the mass media.

The concentration of culture, media, and power in the cities has emptied the countryside, making it much more conducive to the creation of potential "autonomous cultural zones," as, for example, monasteries had sometimes been. In a system free of any valuation of mystery and intimacy, hermetics can mean, paradoxically, precisely the openness to a space among people. The hermeneutics of such an autonomous zone is marked by a silence which empowers the sounds from the peripheries and the echoing word of the people.

One such place was founded several years ago in an old, half-abandoned monastery in Plasy, which was built 850 years earlier as a symbol of Christian hegemony over the land and paganism, as an expression of the wealth of the Cistercian Order. The estate later became the property of Chancellor Clement Metternich, who sought to protect the European absolutist status quo from the pernicious influence of the French Revolution. The ideologies of both inhabitants did not allow much understanding for the freedom of art or for tolerance of any sort. (The need for autonomy, personal liberty, free cultural expression has not at all perished in the present secularized, post-capitalist society, which has devised different ways to control our lives.)

The somewhat spartan Meridian Crossings Symposium in Plasy was different from the majority of art projects in its very multifaceted, hybrid character, which brought it closer to traditional folk festivals, potlatches, and campsites of contemporary nomads. In a place originally intended as an enclosed, hermetic dwelling for the uniformity of a single religious Order, the symposium inspired the qualities of liberalism, openness, celebration, hybridization, solidarity, and brought out the chaos natural to aesthetics, and "social conditions," as well as to the polyphony of the arts. This was a glimpse at what a warmer climate might be like after the melting away of political polarity, dogmatism, violence, the orthodoxy of a single correct way of thinking, of pure art, of universal and timeless truths, of official stupidity, chauvinism, and racial prejudice.

Guests of the Center for Metamedia's projects find themselves in the situation of a temporary camp; they are thrown upon their own resources, upon their capacity for consensus, orientation, experimentation, improvisation, upon their ability to negotiate with others to settle upon the place where they will work, to get what they will need, to discover where they will find it. During the course of the symposium, none of the participants were forced to abide by any requirement besides that of tolerance; they were under no obligation to do anything, not even to "present" their work. The environment, context, theme, form, character, and material they selected was a matter of their own choice and contemplation, and all the individual interventions upon the organism of the place taken together give rise to the final, whole installation. As an illustration, I list here some the materials, media, and devices with which the Meridian Symposium participants worked: light, dark, electricity, iron, a radiator, sun, bread, copper vitriol, water, a pump, onions, video, photography, fishing boots, a basement floor-plan, alpine plants, an Irish boulder, branches, copper tags, time, text, flour, wax, a slide projector, tea, porcelain, stone, canvas, a paintbrush and acrylics, a tent, crates of soda water, weights, beef tongue, a scourge, a plate and cutlery, linoleum, a tennis court net, voice, a whole range of musicial instruments, feedback, neon, a phonograph, wire, a MIDI computer, cotton, puppets, a magnifying glass, foam, UV light, beeswax, string, dance, goldleaf, 16mm film, a camera obscura, a film projector, a ladder, coal embers, a tape player, aluminum and iron armor, fire, cellophane, a sewing machine, sand, a vacuum pump, a radio, beer, an old military uniform, cardboard, Silicon Graphics software, an inflatable globe, the ticking of the clock tower, a rear-view mirror, jay bird feathers, blood, tobacco and linden wood, a clock, alloy, a timer, a relay, telephone wire and a bicycle bell, horsehair, words, movement and fantasy.

For several of the year's warmer months, the former monastery is available for accommodation, relaxation, work, for common meals, chats around the kitchen table at breakfast and around the fire in the evening. What people speak about here--that shared, immaterial, truly inter-medial and chaotic structure of discussion--is as much an event as the installations, exhibitions, workshops, concerts and performances. In these conversations it is possible to discover the most profound, hermetic, and nearly incommunicable stratum of experience which the Center's guests and visitors now carry only in their memory. This is something that cannot be archived or preserved on photographic emulsion, by video, in text, on digital disk, not even on the Internet. It is something which is actually not possible to put into words. It is something which could be a modest promise of changes for the better, because only a few years ago a project like this here was only a wild utopian dream ....

Milos Vojtechovsky, 1995