Swiss artist brings scooter to Venice

Valentin Carron will present "an elegant discussion on the complexity of defining sculpture" in The Swiss Pavilion
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Ciao n°4 (nero), (2012) by Valentin Carron
Ciao n°4 (nero), (2012) by Valentin Carron

The steel snakes mimic some metal beasts which adorn the Zurich fire department; the Piaggio Ciao scooter is less the glamorous Roman Holiday accessory than the low-cost southern Mediterranean necessity; the wall-mounted 'window' pieces recall a kind of Modernist reading of church icons, but, are, in fact, quite secular, and fashioned from fiberglass.

Is there one overriding theme in The Swiss Pavilion's exhibition at The Venice Biennale? It seems as if 35-year-old Valentin Carron will present a fairly heterogeneous show, delighting in a kind of ambiguity, which curator, Giovanni Carmine of director of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, describes as "an elegant discussion on the complexity of defining sculpture."

Carron is perhaps best known for presenting a huge black cross at Art Basel 2009, and widely regarded as an artist who dwells on the local symbols and traditions of his native Valais canton in southern Switzerland, not so much as to affirm the unchanging vernacular culture, but rather to reveal its false, artificial nature. 

 

They they I you he (2013) by Valentin Carron
They they I you he (2013) by Valentin Carron

For the Biennale, he's installed an 80-metre, slim iron snake, which, Carron says is a copy of a Zurich fire station decoration described as being "like a gaze wandering through the room." There are also sets of 'windows', or semi-flat wall sculptures which, as the Swiss press release explains were "inspired by the public and religious architecture of the 1950s... ...recall modernist abstract paintings but are in fact made out of fibre-glass." Also included in the show are some bronze sculptures of squashed musical instruments and the aforementioned Piaggio Ciao scooter, a kind of low-cost readymade.

 

imperia V (2012) by Valentin Carron
imperia V (2012) by Valentin Carron

While there isn't a single leitmotif, other than different forms sculpture can take, Carron does appear to be a brave choice for the Swiss, since the artist seems to prefer to upset national stereotypes than indulge in nationalistic boosterism. Carron doesn't like to think of the Biennale as a kind of artistic Olympiad, but rather an artistic duty, to fill the great pavilion, designed in 1952 by Bruno Giacometti, with worthy art. Is this a position we would prefer all nations and artists adopted?

 

For further insight, take a look at this video, where Carron discusses the forthcoming exhibition with Giovanni Carmine. Visitors can see the works from 1 June, when the Biennale opens. For a greater understanding of Carron's works, take a look at our Younger Than Jesus volume, where we profile Carron alongside 499 of his contemporaries.


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