For her first solo exhibition at Chert, Vanessa Safavi (Lausanne 1980, lives and works between Berlin and Basel) concentrates on a site-specific project which transforms the gallery into a peculiar scenario.
Entering the space, the visitor faces a new series of prints hanging from the gallery’s water pipes and falling on the ground. The prints – black and white semi-abstract images of jute strings arranged together – are on low-quality white transparent plastic, the same material used for shopping bags. These images have a certain human presence, as their arrangement is similar to a torso. The absence of color, paired with the dryness of the image, suggests a total negation of anything alive.
A similar approach continues in the underground space, where the floor of the gallery is filled with white sand, creating a desert landscape scattered with clothes. Again, these objects are void of life; they lay on the ground, stiff and solid. Avoiding any specific classification, they present logos from pop culture, rock bands, sports companies and other symbols from our daily environment.
The scene offers itself to the viewer as interpretations of a post-industrial state, rendered both through imaginary-utopian references and opposing contingent-realistic ones.
Referring both to this fantastic side and simultaneously to its pragmatic component, the artist highlights the impossibility of tracing a direct line between the two and demonstrates an unusual capacity for translating various and abstract social phenomena into visual mise-en-scènes.
As usually in her practice, Vanessa Safavi melts together references and materials from opposite cultures and fields, without declaring the victory of one or the other.
Death vs life, industry vs nature, richness vs poverty. An ongoing battle between nihilism and positivism, where both aspects retain the same emphasis and relevance.
In the specific case of her project “Between a tree and a plastic chair”, Safavi clearly melts together the ideas of nature and industry. Altough the scenario she offers seems to be a negative one – nature is personified by the desert, industry by dead products – it retains a strong ironic and positive component, as typical in science fiction and apocalyptic imagery, where the ideas of failure and catastrophy are deeply linked to the view of an imminent renaissance.