55th Venice Biennale. Valentin Carron at the Swiss Pavilion
For Valentin Carron, sculpture is central to his work. The formal vocabulary of his pieces is inspired by the imagery of the Canton of Valais where he has spent almost all his life, borrowing and adapting the internationally renowned vocabulary of the style of his alpine home region and making it peculiarly his own. Through stylistic and material tensions, his art casts doubt as to the authenticity of the vernacular, whilst developing a highly personal artistic discourse.
For the Swiss Pavilion the artist has teamed up with Giovanni Carmine, director of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen. Carron’s exhibition is conceived as a specific, autonomous whole, encompassing wall and floor-based sculptural pieces, installation and readymade artwork. Greeting the visitor at the door of the pavilion will be a wrought iron snake whose form (over 80 metres long) winds through the architecture like a drawn line.
Carron’s serpent is a two-headed beast that becomes a decorative element in the modernist architecture of the Swiss Pavilion, designed in 1952 by Bruno Giacometti. The intervention defines a path through the pavilion, treating its architecture respectfully whilst also querying the status of works of art and function of sculpture. The gesture is typical of Carron’s practice which fearlessly employs archaic symbols, archetypal forms and references to art history.
Further works in the exhibition include «windows» –wall-based artworks inspired by the public and religious architecture of the 1950s which recall modernist abstract paintings but are in fact made out of fibre-glass; a collection of flattened musical instruments cast in bronze, hung so as to punctuate the space; and a Piaggio Ciao scooter transformed by its context into a pop ready-made. These apparently nonsequitous elements create a 2/3disconcerting and ambivalent effect in which nothing is quite what it seems and all is thrown into question, amounting, in the words of the curator, Giovanni Carmine, to «an elegant discussion on the complexity of defining sculpture».
Ciao n°6, 2013
Die zerbrochene Brücke eurer reinen aber unerwarteten Infamien, 2013
They they I you he, 2013
Courtesy Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich
imperia V, 2012
Courtesy of Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich. Photos: Stefan Altenburger