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09 Oct 2014

KUNSTHALLE São Paulo presents Vanessa Safavi

histoires, historias, 2014. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

Vanessa Safavi «cloud metal cities»


Vernissage: Friday 10 October 2014, 7pm Exhibition through 8 November 2014 Supported by: the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

Marina Coelho
+ 55 11 2339 8586

Rua dos Pinheiros, 411
05422-010 - São Paulo - SP

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Nature and Knowledge #2

Vanessa Safavi
«cloud metal cities»

Friday 10 October 2014, 7pm

Exhibition through 8 November 2014

Over the past four years, Vanessa Safavi (*1980, Lausanne, Switzerland) has been developing a deep and fascinating research around plastics, specially the silicone, which attracts her by its allegory of the beauty and perversion, the transformation, its mutability and plasticity. Modern silicone plays an important role in the modern world economy, being present in the chemical, electronic and computing industry, and especially in medicine, where its use in plastic surgery has been increasing immensely over the last decades.

Although the use of plastics and gums have extensively been explored in the visual arts (Smithson, Bourgeois, Benglis, Thek, Kaufmann, Szapocznikow), literature (Jung, Leiris) and science fiction (Ballard, Pychon), Vanessa Safavi's interest lies in the playful and elastic aspect of the silicone, which allows her to produce fleshy and slimy surfaces. Through her works, the artist explores diverse forms of sexuality and fashion that evolve in our digital and contemporary era. Moreover, her interpretation of silicone relates to conceive and celebrate a sexualized and powerful body as a creative and communicative tool, and not as an object.

In the exhibition «cloud metal cities» at KUNSTHALLE São Paulo, her first solo show in Brazil that continues the project Nature and Knowledge, Vanessa Safavi presents three framed silicone works, whose distorted surface, although folded under the glass, still appears elastic, symbolizing a sort of entropic whirlpool. Titled «Skin, body, air» they suggest the skin and the body as a connected envelope, an interior, both physically and conceptually. Safavi's silicones are not only an allegory of the body's performances and transformations, but also hold a feminine and poetic aspect. They explore the concept of the body as a tool to colonize space and nature. In this context, the Brazilian enthusiastic sense of body cult and body transformation is totally another layer to add to this work.

Having arrived in Brazil a month ago, the artist could eventually understand the modernist heritage, the neo-concretism and abstractionist traditions in Brazil. However she is not melancholic of modern times, yet more interested in how to interpret this imprint of the modernist model today in a quickly growing Brazil, that moves from a colonialist past to a new multicultural capitalist global culture. In her work, Safavi often questions the social and cultural collective as well as individual identities by using other cultures as raw material, analyzing them and incorporating them into her work. Opposing nature and science, culture and philosophy, she has been developing a new body of work, combining her research on plastics and other materials such as aluminum.

«cloud metal cities» evokes this research on the potential of combining materials together. By using industrial materials with a poetic touch, Safavi introduces automatically new layers of interpretation. All materials are primarily signs that convey messages and information. Their materiality determines a cultural or a social value. The exhibition title works as a very simple collage of words that could relate to a science fiction scenario. The cloud – simultaneously natural and virtual – gathers the humidity of nature, the gases of the city and in the same time stocks a constant flux of digital information. Influenced by the crystallized visions of her travel the artist describes physically, emotionally, and virtually the city with a taste for a fantastic surrealism.

«histoires, historias», the picture that illustrates Safavi's exhibition, shows a woman wearing white jeans and a short top made of aluminum. The choice to use aluminum came also as a reference to Lygia Cark's sculptures «Bichos». The small metal constructions were called «Beasts» for their organic character. They represent the last stage of Lygia Clarks's geometric research before she started exploring more conceptually ephemeral and sensory forms. In an attempt to refer to Lygia Clark's body of work, Safavi designed a series of sculptures made of aluminum sheets that evoke the failure to reproduce «Bichos». 'Failed' because they have been existing in a context that has changed, that only refers to a past which the artist has never encountered. Safavi thus prefers to give them the shape of a new existence.

Displayed on the floor, her works structure the void and remain sculptures at same time. As ruins in an abandoned city, their surfaces reflect all sources of light and sketch beautiful distorted, almost psychedelic images. Closer, crystalline dashes of an unknown liquid seem to flow down the metallic surfaces. Silent and enigmatic, almost invisible they could be tears or slobber but the title «Antropofàgia» remains clearly a reference to Clark's work and the Brazilian art history. It evokes also the organic and the softness in a 'swallowed-up' past and a raw physical murmur.

The project Nature and Knowledge is curated by Marina Coelho.

Supported by: the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia


About the artist

Vanessa Safavi
(*1980, Lausanne, Switzerland). Lives and works in Berlin. She has studied visual arts at ECAL – école cantonale d'art de Lausanne, in Switzerland. Among the exhibitions in which she presented her work are: the solo show One Torino, Castello di Rivoli (2013), Turin; the solo show Der Tanz, Atelier Amden (2013), Amden, Switzerland; After the Monument Comes the People, Kunsthalle Basel's back wall (2012), Basel; the solo show I wish Blue could be Water, CRAC Alsace (2012), Altkirch; the solo show Les Figures Autonomes, Centre Culturel Suisse (2012), Paris; the solo show Resort (2011), and the group show Livingroom Exotica (2011), both at Kunsthaus Glarus (2011), Glarus, Switzerland; the solo show No More Ice Cream, Pro Helvetia (2011), Cape Town; Le Choix de Paris, Cité Internationale des Arts (2011), Paris; Luck Draw 2010, Sculpture Center, Long Island City (2010), New York. She has been commissioned to realize the public intervention Luci d'Artista (2013) in the city of Turin, and participated in the residencies: Residency Unlimited (2013), New York; Pro Helvetia (2011), Cape Town; and Cité Internationale des Arts de Paris (2011), Paris.


About Nature and Knowledge

The project Nature and Knowledge consists of a series of three exhibitions of foreign artists at KUNSTHALLE São Paulo, whose researches either approach science or are similar to scientific experiments, connecting art to nature, to human knowledge and to the scientific knowledge.


Rua dos Pinheiros, 411
05422-010 - São Paulo - SP - Brasil
T + 55 11 2339 8586

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