The Verbier 3-D Foundation is pleased to announce that we will be working with the artist Chloe Dewe Mathews for the 2016 Artist Residency. The artist will come to Verbier, Switzerland to develop new work whilst considering the themes of The Year Without Summer and the current age of the Anthropocene.
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, the Mauvoisin Dam near Verbier, overflowed and flooded the entire valley and surrounding areas.
In cultural terms, the dreary summer of 1816 is best known as the setting for Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein, a novel whose iconic Creature offers a figure for the millions of hungry and dispossessed of Europe during the protracted climate emergency that followed Tambora’s eruption. *
In the age of the Anthropocene the ancient distinction between natural history and human history, between culture and nature collapses. We are woven together, entwined in each others fates. Historian of science Christophe Bonneil describes it as a moment of “all powerful vulnerability.” It is a crisis with consequences whose scale are unimaginable and what this generation is living through is the final confrontation between capitalism’s need for infinite growth and the finite resources of the planet, no amount of financial speculation or high tech invention will buy the system its way out of the inevitable crash. The future is not what it used to be. *
This year marks the starting point of the Verbier 3-D Glacier + Climate Project, a 5-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 multimedia residencies, alongside research, exhibitions and education programs. Utilizing the lens of art, viewers will be informed about the current local Valaisan landscape in relation to global environmental and societal changes.
The project aims to develop artistic practice and dialogue around the themes of glacier warming and societal behaviors 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.
Throughout the residency, Dewe Mathews took various trips into the surrounding area to examine the environmental landscape of the Corbassière Glacier, Giétro Glacier, Mauvoisin Dam and local villages. She worked with mountaineers, geologists and glaciologists to further expand her practice in relation to the presented themes.
I looked at these beautiful, fragile expanses, searching for Frankenstein’s creature but realised I was in fact looking at another incarnation of the beast. The grey bulk of melting glacier became, like Frankenstein’s creation, an embodiment of human folly.
An accompanying photographic 5km walk from Croix de Coeur to Ruinettes was developed with the artist Chloe Dewe Mathews and curator Alexa Jeanne Kusber as a visual journey into the artist’s influences and artistic practice for developing the work during the residency.
This parallel exhibition acts as a background study for the public to further increase the understanding and to be able to engage deeper with the work in the Sculpture Park.
Images provided by the artist.