Vanessa Billy (born 1978 in Geneva, lives in Zurich and London) presents her first institutional solo exhibition in Switzerland at Kunsthaus Baselland. The artist was educated at the renowned London Chelsea College. She also spent an exchange semester at the Cooper Union School in New York. For the past few years her works have been frequently displayed in London (Limoncello Gallery) and Zurich (BolteLang Galerie). Her solo exhibition at the Photographer‘s Gallery in London (2009), her participation in the Frieze Sculpture Park presentation (2009) and the group exhibition Boule to Braid in the Lisson Gallery, London (2009), were of particular significance.
Her works covering collages, sculptures and installations are based on material-specific, formal and reception-based considerations. The idea of a proportionality within the individual, inter-related elements and materials becomes the most important organisational principle in her works. With this in mind, the artist questions our viewing habits and our relationship with the exhibition architecture from the start of her exhibition by coating the wall, which is normally painted in white, with a concrete layer.
Time and again found objects are the starting point of Billy’s working method. They often become the catalyst in the explorations with the material, its respective functionality and reaction to other materials. In the work Further than the flood (2010) for instance stones are packed in cellophane. The coming together of these two materials seems strange insofar as stones do not require a protective cover or packaging. The wrapping up of the stones in the transparent cover stands for a process, in which two actually disparate materials come together. The light reflections on the cover are reminiscent of sun’s rays on a water surface. The weightless cellophane cover and the heaviness of the stones correlate and become part of a combined whole.
In some sculptures the artist analyses the relationship of metal and stone, by letting the materiality of one define the form of the other, or the weight of one define the behaviour of the other. (Series Standard (suppose), Standard (assume), Standard (presume), 2010).
The video Hands Bar (2010) is about the swinging of a body that holds onto a bar with the hands. The recording focuses on the hands and the bar, which shows the interaction of weight and metal. The bar bends, then becomes straight during the short transition and bends once again. The mobility of the hands, their physical fragility and softness, stands in contrast to the hardness of the metal that elastically bends despite its apparent rigidity.
The work Digestion (2010) shows references to a filled plate and offers a reference to the exhibition’s title from its content. “Three Times a Day” can also be understood as food for the mind. It is clear to the artist that humans are also nurtured by the world around them and this is often an important starting point for her works.
Text by Sabine Schaschl