Otto Gross is one of Sigmund Freud’s golden boys, but became too radical for Freud and is pushed aside. Otto comes to Ascona in 1906. He is an anarchist, and believes the new insights of psychoanalysis must be used to change society. He is a champion of women’s rights, of free love and believes marriage is slavery. Otto has a famous father, professor Hans Gross, the inventor of criminology.
In a huge scandal Hans Gross has his son Otto arrested in Berlin and takes him to court in Vienna, claiming that Otto is unfit to be a father. The court case is closely followed by European media and artists like Otto’s friend Franz Kafka. The case is still going on as the first world war breaks out.
Mary Wigman comes to Ascona in 1913, invited by Rudolf Laban and stays throughout World War 1 She and Laban works intensly together and out of it she develops her revolutionary dance. In 1918 she leaves Ascona and changes the world of dance.
Gusto Gräser had an promising career as an artist. He was acclaimed at the 1896 World Fair in Budapest. Then he burned all his work and dedicated himself to inner explorations and nature studies; poetry and dance. He gave away all his inherited money to live out what nature gave him. He was easy to recognise in his long hair and beard; headband and kaftan; shoulderbag and sandals. Hermann Hesse were deeply taken by Gusto and lived with him for periods at his cave, sometimes for weeks.