Saturday, May 14, 2011

Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park and Artist Residency

(Verbier, Switzerland) July 7, 2011 – The 3-D Foundation is delighted to launch a high altitude Sculpture Park and Artist Residency in Verbier, in the Swiss Alps. This is the first time that this alpine region has welcomed such an ambitious and permanent artistic project. The first Residency has just concluded. It will recur annually with emerging and established artists from Switzerland and abroad creating monumental works with the Alps for backdrop and inspiration. The opening reception took place on the evening of June 25 in Place de l’Ermitage, in the heart of Verbier. All the artists were present alongside ArtBattles from New York.

For five weeks, acclaimed international sculptors invited to participate in the first year invitation only Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park Residency, took the resort by storm. ”I wanted to create a residency which reflected the power of the mountain using the energy of city-based artists, in order to create an international dialogue as a pioneering platform for free Public Art in the Alps,” says Madeleine Paternot, artist and co-founder of the 3-D Foundation. Working against the clock, these artists each built a monumental site-specific sculpture, able to survive in a harsh high-altitude environment. These sculptures are now in the sculpture park, a further four, including The Roses by Will Ryman, are in the village itself.

The artists chosen to create these public works for such a tough alpine environment are:Gregory Coates (New York), Donna Dodson (Boston), Timothy Holmes (London), Musa Hixson (Brooklyn), Andy Moerlein (Boston), Kiki Thompson (Verbier), and Zak Ove (London).

The energy and enthusiasm for the project is amplified by Verbier’s renowned extreme skiing terrain. “An evocative range of work was produced. Materials used include rubber, cement and steel, Styrofoam and truly massive wood blocks as well as prefab objects,” explains Gregory Coates, one of the participating artists and a member of 3-D’s board. “But the biggest challenge remains the alpine climate, we can’t take that out of the equation.” Once completed, the sculptures were placed on sheer mountain cliffs, against an epic backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Some of the sculptures required the artists to finish them on site, adding to the precariousness of the endeavor and the overall excitement of this public art project.

“Man’s relationship to the mountain is paramount to this project,” explains Paul Goodwin, curator of Contemporary Art, Tate Britain. “The power of art is its ability to articulate human emotions and values such as beauty and truth. On the mountain, faced with such sublime vistas, the visitor can experience these works of art in a totally new way, completely removed from the gallery or museum, directly confronting the ‘truth’ of nature. This is the true meaning of a museum without walls.”

This world-class spectacular sculpture park, or museum within nature, is not to be missed. It is similar in spirit and reach to Arte Sella and its Artenatura route just over the border in Italy, but in a very different setting. “The Commune de Bagnes is really excited about Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park and the opportunity it gives us to showcase our stunning surroundings and to offer such creativity and innovation year round to the local population and to our many visitors. It will be really interesting to see how these majestic sculptures change with the weather, they’ll look completely different each season, especially when it snows,” says Marie-Hélène de Torrenté, Advisor for the Commune. The Park spans a length of 3km, thus creating a natural pilgrimage between Les Ruinettes and La Chaux, at an altitude of 2,300 meters (7,545 feet), is free to the public and only accessible on foot or by bike, skis or dogsled. Over one million skiers ski in this region each year.

Other Swiss and American artists invited to show in Verbier are: Nathalie Delhaye, Etienne Krähenbühl, Edouard Faro, André Raboud, Josette Taramarcaz and Will Ryman.

The 3-D Foundation is a not-for-profit organization, founded by New York-based artist Madeleine Paternot and Verbier-based sculptor Kiki Thompson. Its mission is to promote contemporary art and culture, to focus on nature and community and to provide educational workshops. The curatorial premise is set by Paul Goodwin, in his capacity as an independent curator.

Update: Lexi Bella made a short video of the fire sculpture that was created by Andy Moerlein and Donna Dodson for the vernissage of an ibex climbing a mountain. John Ivory made a video of Donna Dodson 'Giving Stork a Spine.'