Vernissage 18 June 2016 : In Search of Frankenstein by 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.