‘L’amiral cherche une maison à louer,’ William Kentridge’s tapestry, can be admired in the Alfred Escher Street entrance. Photo: Stephan Birrer

The absurd, “with its rupture of rationality – of conventional ways of seeing … is in fact an accurate and productive way of understanding the world… .” Recall these words of William Kentridge as you admire his great tapestry in Zurich’s main entrance hall. Coveted by collectors, his tapestries, drawings, sculptures, animated films, even stage sets, seem at first to defy logic. But look a little longer and they begin to make sense. His tapestry in Quai Zurich Campus is three meters high and eight meters wide, and one of six site-specific works commissioned on the property. It dominates the wall at the end of an 80-meter long corridor. Entitled ‘L’amiral cherche une maison à louer’ (The Admiral seeks a house to rent), it takes its name from a Dadaist song poem performed in the infamous Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916. When the work was first created, civilized society was still reeling from the mechanized brutality of World War I. The premiere must have been impressive. It included people on stage reciting, singing, and banging drums. Kentridge’s works often feature collages. To produce his tapestries, he relies on the Marguerite Stephens Tapestry Studio outside Johannesburg. The production team for Zurich’s enormous tapestry required 18 people, including the weavers. All were female except for a few male goats that provided the mohair. The weaving studio recreates Kentridge’s collages on a vast scale, right down to the texture of torn paper and pins. Stand back and admire the tapestry. Imagine it’s a procession, a picnic of the Dadaists. Go with them. They’re waiting for you. If you listen, they might speak to you. Be open to their message, listen with your senses, and respond with your heart.