In the Depth of Summer, Not Vital Fills a Gallery with 700 Snowballs
In the heat of the summer, Galerie Andrea Caratsch gets snow. That is, it gets 700 Snowballs, a sprawling and enchanting installation of 700 individual blown-glass orbs, each one of which appears to contain a snowball floating within. These are the work of painter, sculptor, designer, architect, and eccentric Not Vital, the celebrated artist known for his surrealist, conceptual play on nature, biological forces, and the manmade.
A nomadic creator, Not Vital makes work all over the world and is often inspired by the various environments in which he finds himself. He maintains studios and presents his projects in places that range from extremely urban to largely untouched. The remote mountains of Switzerland are among his bases. There he is close to the elements—especially snow. With 700 Snowballs, he preserves this otherwise ephemeral substance and evokes one of the many ways in which we engage with it, in this case, as something for fun and games.
To make 700 Snowballs, Not Vital went to Venice, a city historically renowned as a center of glassmaking. He partnered with a master glassblower to make his vision manifest. The completed snowballs were exhibited at the 2013 Venice Biennale, strewn on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Now at the gallery, these relics of winter play—no two of which are alike—dot the floors, so that visitors must walk carefully among them when navigating the space.
Like a number of his other sculptural and installation works, Not Vital’s glass snowballs urge touch. They appear enticingly convincing, encased within their pleasingly round glass containers. The artist often seeks to engage viewers in his projects, and once completed a public commission in Zurich that he called the “‘no problem sculpture’—No problem, it’s not big, it’s not small, it’s not beautiful, it’s not ugly, you can piss on it, you can climb it, you can spray it…the project can be accepted or rejected—no problem!” This anything goes, generous attitude infuses 700 Snowballs, which riddles the gallery like the eternal aftermath of a vigorous snowball fight, as if ready to be taken up once again.
“Not Vital: 700 Snowballs” is on view at Galerie Andrea Caratsch, St. Moritz, Jul. 20–Sep. 12, 2015.