Zürich, Sommer 1980 (Zurich, Summer 1980) is all about barriers, barricades, police in riot gear, demonstrators, rubber bullets, water cannons and regular doses of tear gas.
30 years ago, the streets of Zurich were almost on a war footing. Clashes in public places between the establishment and the alternative scene were played out at levels of violence and readiness to use it that would be unimaginable today. Unlike 1968, the anarchic youth revolts in Zurich in 1980 were an avant-garde spectacle and made international headlines. The only tangible demand coming from the young people was that they wanted an Autonomous Youth Centre (AJZ), but in fact what they wanted was everything, now. Using this insistence on everything, deliberately slanted towards the absurd, with Dadaist wit and subversive camouflage, the movement unsettled representatives of all the established political forces, including many 68ers who were just starting to take over the institutions. The street battles in summer 1980 marked a shift towards open cultural politics in Zurich and to comprehensive development and marketing of urban youth culture. To a certain extent, the movement was event culture avant la lettre. Without it there would have been no street parade, and no party culture making an international impact.
As a photographer, Olivia Heussler was both an activist and a contemporary witness. Her pictures show a summer whose scenes of violence and joyful happenings changed and made a lasting impact on many people’s lives.