700 Snowballs is an installation consisting of 700 individually
blown glass balls that bear a striking resemblance to snowballs
suspended in air. The snowballs rest directly on the floor, evenly
and randomly spread. As each snowball was hand-blown by
Vetreria Pino Signoretto in Murano, no two are identical – just as
natural elements are never exactly repeated.
The installation creates a place of meditation, evoking the
metamorphic, transformative and cyclical processes of nature. The
luminous and reflective qualities of glass simultaneously reflect
both the dense and yet ephemeral nature of snow. This mirrors
the tension between the organic form and the inorganic material,
between the durability of the artwork and the fragility of the
elements it evokes.
700 Snowballs becomes an environment, a tranquil place of awe
and contemplation. Inspired throughout his career by a childhood
spent in the Swiss Alps, Vital has explored the contradictions of
the harsh climate and vast landscapes that he knows so
intimately. Indeed, the iconography of snow and its context has
recurred throughout Vital’s oeuvre – he has for instance used
plaster to mould mountains that appear to be covered in snow,
and has fabricated sleds from marble.
In 700 Snowballs, Vital succinctly and poetically presents the
duality of water’s form when it freezes. The work explores the everrich
potential of Venice glass-blowing tradition, despite our being in
an era of industrial mass-production and cultural globalization. It
represents an unprecedented technical feat, and a fine example of
the fruits that can be borne of an intimate and intellectually
stimulating collaboration between a highly established artist, and
the most skilled of Murano craftsmen.
Previously shown in Zurich in 2002, in Chasa Jaura, Valchava,
Grisons in 2003, at the Bündner Kunstmuseum, Chur in 2004 and
most recently on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore during the
Venice Biennale 2013, the installation – comprising all 700
snowballs – is being shown in its entirety for the first time.