In Search of Frankenstein
by Chloe Dewe Mathews
19.06.16 – 18.06.17
– excerpt from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
About Chloe Dewe Mathews
The “Year Without a Summer”—1816—belongs to a three-year period of severe climate deterioration of global scope caused by the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia in April, 1815. With plummeting temperatures, and disruption to major weather systems, human communities across the globe faced crop failures, epidemic disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. In 1818, Giétroz glacier, at the site of the Mauvoisin Dam near Verbier, overflowed and flooded the entire valley and surrounding areas.
The Verbier 3-D Foundation presents In Search of Frankenstein, a new body of work by British photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews. The series responds to the glacial environment of Bagnes, Switzwerland, a landscape that provides a fitting backdrop for this commentary on the increasingly fragile relationship between man and the natural world.
The artist was invited to examine the psychological landscapes of the Corbassière Glacier, Giétroz Glacier, Mauvoisin Dam and local surrounding villages while working with local authorities, mountaineers, and glaciologists to further her research while developing the work.
The resulting photographs suggest the contemporary relevance of Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein (1818)’, which was conceived in the Swiss Alps as a direct consequence of the extraordinary weather conditions that took hold during the “Year without Summer”. It was while reading Shelley’s novel and visiting the glaciers and nearby nuclear shelters, that Chloe Dewe Mathews was inspired to create a project that would attempt to use the book’s literary themes to discuss the environmental and social issues of our time.
In Search of Frankenstein, provides an artistic investigation of the complex issues of the current era of the Anthropocene raising questions that remain at the heart of contemporary concerns: the ethics of science, climate change, industrialization and the modern sublime.
The exhibition has been developed with curators Paul Goodwin and Alexa Jeanne Kusber.
This year marks the starting point of the Verbier 3-D Glacier Project, a 4-year initiative that will link art, education and glacier conservation. The project will unite artists and scientists to chronicle the impact of global warming on glaciers in Valais, Switzerland. Their insights will be captured in photography, sculpture and multi-media residencies, alongside research, exhibitions and education programmes. Utilising the lens of art, viewers will be informed about the current local Valaisan landscape in relation to global environmental and societal changes.
The Verbier 3-D Foundation aims to develop artistic practice, experimentation and dialogue around the themes of glacier warming and societal behaviours on a local level that extends outward. The exhibitions will feature new work by visual artists who in differing ways are interested in these conversations.
Chloe Dewe Mathews
British documentary photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews studied at The Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford University. Her most recent series ‘Shot at Dawn’ records many of the sites where approximately 1,000 British, French and Belgian soldiers were executed for cowardice or desertion during the first world war. Shot at Dawn was included in Tate Modern’s recent landmark exhibition ‘Time, Conflict, Photography’ and currently features in a solo show at The Irish Museum of Modern Art.
Her work is internationally recognised, exhibiting at Tate Modern, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Museum Folkwang and Fotomuseum Antwerp, as well as being published widely in newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times, Harpers and Le Monde. Public and private collections have acquired her work, including the British Council Collection, the Irish State Art Collection and the National Library of Wales.
Her awards include the British Journal of Photography International Photography Award, the Julia Margaret Cameron New Talent Award and the Flash Forward Emerging Photographer’s Award and her nominations include the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, the Prix Pictet and Paul Huf Award.
Chloe’s first monograph ‘Shot at Dawn’ was published by Ivorypress in 2014 and in the same year she became the Robert Gardner Fellow in Photography at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University.
5 July 2014 – 5 July 2016
The 3-D Foundation is pleased to present MUTATIONS at the Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park from 5 July 2014. This exhibition presents five new works created during the biennial six-week Artist Residency that occurred from the end of May until the beginning of July in Verbier, Switzerland. The exhibition celebrates the development of monumental sculpture in the context of the Alps and is part of the Label’Art 2014 initiative in Valais.
The curatorial premise for the 2014 3-D Artist Residency was MUTATIONS by London (Tate) curator Paul Goodwin: What are the emerging forms of mutation in contemporary art practices? How can contemporary art transform our understanding of the complex entanglements caused by proliferating mutations in the environment and society? Can artists mutate/remix/re-vision our understanding of society, environment and culture?
The artists were invited to live in the reclusive mountain town of Verbier and become fully immersed within the context of place encouraging them to consider the relationship of their practice to not only the proposed theme, but also to existing pieces, the landscape features, history and current perspective of the site. This year’s artists were chosen based on their interest in experimentation and desire to push the medium of sculpture forward, keeping it alive by experimenting with both the possibilities of materials and the capabilities of space in connection with the viewer.
Andrea Hasler (CH) born in 1975 in Zürich, Switzerland, and currently lives and works in London, has developed two sculptures and one video work for the Park. The works touch on the seclusion, exclusivity and hybridity of the mountain town of Verbier. Her first work, Avant/Aprés consists of a red carpet scenario in the mountain landscape with no indication which boundary is the VIP side to aspire to be or which one we may be held back from. In relation to this year’s theme, the work points at the lack of actually physical mutation and the desire to be different or transform. The intestine-like rope made of resin and wax, references the non-physical aspect of desire, highlighting the fact that underneath we are all the same. Perishable Goods is a pallet of compressed flesh (utilising the same process) bulging out, yet held together and at the same time, adorned with luxury chains. With the impression of the work being crudely dropped into the Sculpture Park, the work suggests the intensity and intrusion of the change of population in Verbier in the winter months whilst referencing the stark contrast of the need for emergency aid food pallets dropped off in disaster zones. The video work developed during the Residency will be released later this year.
Architects by training BUREAU A (CH), who consists of Leopold Banchini and Daniel Zamarbide, is a multidisciplinary platform aiming to blur the boundaries of research and project making on architectural related subjects. For this year’s Residency, the focus was based on the rooting of culture in the Swiss mountains. From the writings of Ramuz, particularly Derborence and Farinet, their project is a continuation, somewhat subversive, on precarious housing in the mountains. Antoine creates a shelter, an “Existenzminimum” space and architecture that is a livable and functional residence.
Beyond this, the Swiss tradition of digging and carving the mountains for various habitats, military infrastructure, or ski areas, Antoine also references essential writing in the history of architecture: Bunker Archaeology by Paul Virilio, edited for first time in 1975 and describing his fascination with military architecture conducted on principles of camouflage. The mini-residence is hid with a rock that will sit on the edge of the Park as about to fall at any moment. Antoine thereby hangs at this time and culture Paul Virilio, Claude Parent and André Bloc around which is born the concept of architecture-sculpture.
Tarik Hayward (CH) has been recently running towards an artistic demarche that could be described as a more immediate approach, in the direction of performance and sculpture. These two areas are often intertwined in his recent work and have been realised in his latest work for the Park. Erected in the ruins of a modernist structure that was removed earlier this year, Unity Temple references a ritualistic response to constant change on the mountain combined with the immediate need for survival. The destruction of this past installation represents a sign of instability, both structural, economical and spiritual. As ruins are remnants of past realities, they become memorials to decay and evolution, with change often happening brutally with no signs of departure.
Ritualistically building with sand bags in a repetitive and quick motion, Hayward finds solace in the renewal of a contemporary temple for visitors to find refuge from inevitable change. This practice also refers to survival wartime situations of urgent necessity to be sheltered. The title Unity Temple gives reference to the first modern building using concrete as both a structural and aesthetical material by architect Frank Loyd Wright, which was actually a church.
Eve Bailey (FR/USA) has formed a practice based on the concepts of balance and coordination. Rooted in the tradition of the artist-engineer, she creates ergonomic and kinetic sculptures sympathetic to human embrace as well as complex line drawings that embody her love for architecture and dance.
Bailey constructed Our Impermanent Walk as an interactive kinetic sculpture inspired by the wings of the first flying machines. The sculpture-device serves to experiment with proprioception and express finite moments of equilibrium. The concept is literally and metaphorically about groundlessness, impermanence, trust and collaboration. As two people climb upon the structure, they loose their traditional relationship to gravity and cannot hold on to anything but each other’ s counter weight. They are bound to collaborate to find their balance.
Our Impermanent Walk will be located in the Place Blanche in Verbier for the summer before going to it’s final site in the Park.
This year’s Residency and exhibition has been developed with American Curator and new Valais resident Alexa Jeanne Kusber.
Eve Bailey, Our Impermanent Walk, 2014
Verbier 3-D Foundation Artist Residency
MUTATIONS: 24th May – 5th July 2014
Vernissage: 5th July 2014
Exhibition: 5 July 2014 – 5 July 2016
Mutation (Oxford English Dictionary)
noun [mass noun]
1 the action or process of mutating 2 the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form which may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes 3 Linguistics regular change of a sound when it occurs adjacent to another
The curatorial premise for the 2014 Verbier 3-D Artist Residency is Mutations by curator Paul Goodwin:
In the current global political-economic and ecological crisis, old hierarchies and certainties are crumbling and new realities are emerging at a rate and a profundity that we are yet to fully comprehend. New hybrid and strangely familiar aesthetic forms and strategies are emerging that are attempting to navigate the mutations of worlds and life forms. Sculpture, new media, performance and other art forms no longer conform to hierarchical and outmoded structures of feeling and affect from the machine age.
This residency invites contemporary forms of creation – in an age of information and networks – that engage with cultural, aesthetic and ecological ‘mutations’ within the context of a mountain landscape that is itself in constant evolution.
What are the emerging forms of mutation in contemporary art practices? How can contemporary art transform our understanding of the complex entanglements caused by proliferating mutations in the environment and society? Can artists mutate/remix/re-vision our understanding of society, environment and culture?
Verbier 3-D Foundation is pleased to be engaging with an array of artists for this year’s Artist Residency who are currently interested in creating new work and dialogue around the advancement towards radical breaks within the traditions of monumental sculpture.
For more information about this year’s artists, click here.
Each Sunday in June Verbier 3-D will offer Weekend Courses throughout the residencies to provide unparalleled opportunities for participants to gain knowledge and insight into artistic practices and the international art world.
Each course is designed to address the specific needs and interests of its participants. Led by the Verbier 3-D Foundation and enhanced by lectures from international experts and practitioners in the field, Weekend Courses offer an innovative, object-based learning experience.
Detailed information about the Weekend Courses and Educational Programme during the Artist Residency is available here.