The majesty of the landscapes of the Muottas Muragl summit in the Swiss Alps of Livigno is difficult to describe, both awe-inspiring and humbling. A sunset seen from this position will stay etched in your mind forever. Now imagine walking through this alpine paradise and coming across a cluster of stylized glittering glass icebergs. Your mystical and unique borderline experience with nature has become all the more surreal, thanks to the artist Douglas Mandry.
“Sculptures should be a trigger for imagination and reflection,” Mandry said of Gravity flow, his public installation of five sculptures. It was unveiled last month and will remain on display (for those lucky enough and brave enough to make the trip to see them) until August 2023. In an area defined by its extreme weather conditions, the semi-transparent works will have an ever-changing background and appearance. due to the swirling elements and changing light. But Gravity flow (2022) is more than an aesthetic achievement. The sculptures address serious themes, including humans’ part in ecological upheaval and the nature of time, as well as how time could run out.
“The notions of time and space are very present in my projects,” said Mandry. “I see my work as a non-linear reinterpretation of reality.” The sculptures are made from 100% recycled glass, which has a special resonance for the artist. “Glass work is an age-old cultural heritage,” Mandry explained. “It has stood the test of time and technological evolution, but it is still used as it was in the past. Glass is ubiquitous in our daily lives. It may be fragile, but it is also extremely dense. All these paradoxical qualities led me to experiment with glass and to propose large, heavy sculptures based on an immaterial visualization of volatile nature.
Mandry is from Switzerland, and Gravity flow was sponsored by the Zurich luxury skincare brand The Meadow. However, the project has a global and universal scope. As part of his research process, Mandry accompanied ETH Zurich Glaciology Professor Daniel Farinotti on an expedition to the Rhone Glacier. “Being on a glacier is always a powerful and unique experience,” he said. “It reminds me of our own fragility. Ice is a sparkling source of information, a crystallization of the past. It contains air bubbles from a million years ago. Farinotti’s team used a three-dimensional scanner inserted into vertical channels carved out by melting ice to measure erosion. The scans provided the data for the digital models that inspired the shapes of the artwork, which reflect these cavities carved into the ice.
Mandry has been fascinated by glaciers since 2018, creating photograms of melting ice for his “Monuments” series. The artist also explored other subjects in nature for his artistic practice. “I started working on illegally exported corals,” he explained, “as well as the displacement of natural elements such as sand, which is one of the most endangered materials in the world.” But the glaciers will continue to resonate.
“As a Swiss artist, their development matters to me because they have been part of my life since childhood,” he said. “Art is a way to study them, but also to communicate. Speaking of glaciers, I feel like I’m talking about all of us.
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