Alain Grimm – Vogel Gryff in Basel – Dokumentation of absence of the ritual

Alain Grimm
Documentalist of the Basler Fasnacht

Vogel Gryff in Basel – Dokumentation of absence of the ritual

(abstract of the photo-presentation and commentary)

The Vogel Gryff (Festival of the Griffin) is an annual festival in Kleinbasel (a district of Basel/Switzerland) in January, during which the three symbolic figures Vogel Gryff (the griffin), Wilder Mann (the savage) and Leu (the lion) perform over 40 dances all day, accompanied by the sound of drums. The event has its origins in the Middle Ages as an annual muster of arms by the three Kleinbasel societies, which were responsible for protecting and guarding the city walls in their disctrict. The Vogel Gryff is listed as a living tradition by the Federal Office of Culture FOC. In 2021, the Vogel Gryff, which is attended by several thousand spectators each year, could not take place due to the Corona pandemic. This non-occurrence of the Vogel Gryff is unique and notable in its modern significance as a cultural and identity-forming festival. This special event of not taking place was recorded photographically and is to be published as a book. On the one hand, the publication is intended to systematically document the Vogel Gryff 2021 and, on the other hand, to confront a broad public with the topic of intangible cultural heritage in a low-threshold manner. Information such as date, time and picture description are added to the pictures and thereby evoke memories when viewed. The publication is not a scientific investigation, but an artistic play on and view of the Vogel Gryff. Supplemented by guest contributions from experts, the book aims to illustrate what happens when an orally handed down heritage cannot take place and depends only on memories. The result of this documentation will be presented at the symposium on the basis of the pictures and will take the expert audience on a journey through the Vogel Gryff 2021 itself.