Vanessa Safavi

Vanessa Safavi (b. 1980, Lausanne, Switzerland) lives and works between Berlin and Switzerland. In 2019, she was awarded Prix Irène Raymond. In 2013 she received the Luci d’Artista Prize in Turin. And in 2012,  she received the Illy Present/Future Prize. Residencies she participated in include: Istituto Svizzero, Roma. In 2021, Fürstenberg, Donaueschingen in 2018, Residency 92Capital, Lima and Calca, Perù in 2015, and Residency Unlimited (RU) in collaboration with Galapagos Art Space, New York in 2013.
In her work, Safavi lyrically references the human body, inventing new forms with unorthodox techniques. She questions the sculptural possibilities of representing the body today and interrogates our relationship to the body, illness, sexuality and identity. 
Safavi works with a variety of materials but with a predominance for all types of rubber, often returning to post-minimalist practices. She invites unexpected materials such as silicone, appealing to the legacy of “soft sculpture” or the “Antiform” movement, which uses industrial materials in a more sensitive way. 
Safavi also displays a respect for cultural references dating back to antiquity and explores various cultural heritages. By translating ancient techniques and symbols Safavi associates them with her own personal narratives, she explores and questions the contemporary identity of the body in the constant optimization of technologies and its cultural impacts in our hyper-organized societies that have definitely led it to a new sphere of identity and a complex, vulnerable and schizophrenic fragility. Her work reminds us of the fragility of our bodies and the poetry that emerges from them.
Beyond the analogy to the skin and the body, silicone has the characteristic, like many other polymers, of being a hybrid material, which, as Barthes said, transforms as it passes from one state to another and thus suggests a metaphysical particularity. It is also through this more abstract spectrum that the artist develops his plastic research around silicone. 

Her work has been exhibited internationally in venues such as: Castello di Rivoli, Turin; CRAC Alsace, Altkirch; Fürstenbergisches Museum, Donaueschingen; Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, USA; Kunsthalle São Paulo, Argentina; Fri Art Kunsthalle, Fribourg; Nomas Foundation, Rome; SALTS, Basel; Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris; Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland; Fondation Entreprise Ricard, Paris; Kunstverein Grafschaft, Neuenhaus; and Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow.

Collections: Nomas Foundation, Rome; Kunsthaus Glarus; Ricola Collection, Switzerland; Fiorucci Art Trust, London



2019 – 2020
MASTER @ HEAD – Haue Ecole d’Art et de Design, Geneva
Professors: Anselm Franke, Fulvia Carnivale, Jon Rafman, Yann Chateigné, Micheal Stevenson

2003 – 2007
HEA Diplôme d’arts visuels, ECAL – école cantonale d’art de Lausanne
Professors: Francis Baudevin, Philippe Decrauzat, John Armleder, Julien Fronsacq and Stéphane Dafflon Public Commission


Istituto Svizzero, Roma

Fürstenberg, Donaueschingen

Residency 92Capital, Lima and Calca, Perù

Residency Unlimited (RU) in collaboration with Galapagos Art space, New York

Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council, Cape Town
Cité Internationale des Arts de Paris, Paris

Public Commission – Prizes

Luci d’Artista, Turin

Illy Prize, Artissima art fair, Turin

Solo Exhibitions

I feed my dreams slime at night, Fabienne Levy Gallery, Lausanne and Geneva

Dolls and Goddesses, CASCINA I.D.E.A.Nicoletta Rusconi Art Projects, Agrate Conturbia

Milch, curated by Windhager von Kaenel, Staletta, Madulain
Velvet, ACUD, Berlin
Velvet, Fri Art Kunsthalle, Freiburg
CONDO Hosting The Breeder, Athens, The Approach, London

Turns and Returned, The Breeder, Athens

The Cook and the Smoke Detector, CertLüdde, Berlin

Medulla Plaza, Kunstverein Grafschaft, Bentheim
Stick to Me Fantasy (with Pauline Beaudemont), curated by Tobi Maier, Sao Paulo
Fair Play, Barbara Seiler Gallery, Zürich

Amygdala, The Breeder Playroom, Athens

FIAC, Grand Palais, Paris
cloud metal cities, Kunsthalle São Paulo, São Paulo
La Nuit Liquide, The Breeder, Athens

One Torino, with Santo Tolone and Naufus Ramírez-Figueroa, Castello di Rivoli, Turin
Muir and Andrew Berardini, Museum of Contemporary Arts, Turin, Italy
3 Pounds of Jelly, Chert, Berlin
Der Tanz, curated by Roman Kurzmeyer, Atelier Amden, Amden

Present Future, Artissima, Turin, with Chert, Berlin
After the Monument Comes the People, Back wall installation, Kunsthalle Basel
I Wish Blue could be Water, CRAC Alsace, Altkirch
Les Figures Autonomes, Centre Culturel Suisse, Paris

Resort, Kunsthaus Glarus, Glarus
No More Ice Cream, Pro Helvetia, Cape Town

Between a Tree and a Plastic Chair, Chert, Berlin
Wandering Works, Claudia Groeflin Galerie, Zürich
Successes and Traumas, Le Palais Bleu, Trogen

NEO, Naphtaline, Lausanne

DOM-TOM, zwanzigquadrameter, Berlin

Group Exhibitions

My Demons My Angels, ChertLüdde, Berlin

Ties and knots and bandages, Krone Couronne, Bienne

Illuminating,  Screening, LongLake Festival, Lugano
So close I can see inside of you, ChertLüdde, Berlin

Notes sur l’empathie, curated by Charlotte Laubard, Fondation Entreprise Ricard, Paris
Seins à Dessins, curated by David Lemaire, Musée Arlaud, Lausanne
All The Small Things, curated by Alessandro Buganza and Margherita Castiglioni, Alessandro Buganza, Milan
After Eight, Fürstenbergisches Museum, Donaueschingen
The House Where You Live Forever, curated by Marina Coelho, Garage Rotterdam

The Gravity Show, Grisebach, Berlin
And as things fell apart, nobody paid much attention, Monitor, Lisbon
Objects like us, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT, USA

Sammlung ALMA, Kunsthaus Glarus, Glarus
Dawn (Poetic Sculpture), Performance, with Julie Favreau, Pauline Beaudemont and Ariel Garcia, art berlin fair
Kleingeld, Organised by Santiago Taccetti, Galerie Rolando Anselmi, Berlin
How much is too much ?, School for Curatorial Studies, Venice

Meaning can only grow out of intimacy (Limbs, Water, Nostalgia), curated by Elise Lammer. Les Urbaines – 20th edition, Lausanne
A Month of Sundays, Taylor Macklin, Zurich
Lonesome Wife, organized by Attila Fattori Franchini, Seventeen, London
The world no longer exists, Kurator, Rapperswil Switzerland
Group presentation at Artissima, Turin
Group presentation at ART-O-RAMA, Marseille
That Time, Cycle music and art festival, curated by Eva Wilson, Kópavogur Art Museum, Iceland
Che il vero possa confutare il falso, curated by Luigi Fassi and Alberto Salvadori, AgiVerona Collection, Palazzo Pubblico/Santa Maria della Scala/Accademia dei Fisiocritici, Siena
Macaroni, WallRiss, Fribourg
A Month of Sundays, Taylor Macklin, Zürich
Unexpected Others, L’Atelier ksr, Berlin
Stick To Me Fantasy: Vanessa Safavi & Pauline Beaudemont, SOLO SHOWS, São Paulo
Leaping over a bush to surprise a quail, Chert, Berlin
Inflected Objects # 2 Circulation – Mise en Séance, Frans Hals Museum | De Hallen Haarlem, Netherlands
The transparent tortoiseshell and the un-ripe umbrella, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow

Intro, Giorgio Galotti Gallery, Turin
A Space is a Space is a Space, Deutsche Architektur Zentrum DAZ, Berlin
Ceramics and Graphite, Chert, Berlin
auto objects, curated by Imke Kannegiesser, at NOTE ON, Berlin
Stoneroses, curated by Santiago Tacetti and Mirak Jamal, Grunewald
Swiss Art Awards, Basel
Interior/Exterior/Sculpture, Curated by Saskia Neuman, Belenius/Nordenhake, Stockholm
milk revolution, curated by Ilaria Marotta and Andrea Baccin at the American Academy, Rome

What do you write when men are puking into plastic bags, Chert, Berlin
Fieldworks: Animal Habitats in Contemporary Art, curated by Chris Clarke, Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork
Blackboard – White Page, Kantonsschule Zürich Nord, Zurich
ART GENEVE, invitation for Kunsthalle Basel, with Pauline Beaudemont, Lauren Huret and Hannah Weinberger, curated by Adam Szymczyk and Fabian Schonheich
Tell Me What I See, When I Look Into Your Eyes, BolteLang, Zürich

Editionshow, Chert, Berlin
I’ll be your Mirror, Herald St, London
Focus, Frieze Art Fair, London
AB, Nomas Foundation, Rome
The Droste Affect, Scaramouche Gallery, New York
Emmy Moore’s Journal, curated by Quinn Latimer, SALTS, Basel
If I was John Armleder, a project by Luca Cerizza for Art Genève, Geneva
Harum-Scarum, Blancpain Art Contemporain, Geneva

Partoftheprocess 5, Zero gallery, Milan
Gong Places, IAAB-Projektraum, Münchenstien
The Thing Itself, Abbt Projects, Zürich
Junge Kunst in der Schweiz – 30 Jahre Manor Kunstpreis, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau

Le Choix de Paris, curated by Elsy Lahner, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris
Be nice to me, curated by Niels Trannois and Gyonata Bonvicini at Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin
A Skeleton in the Closet, curated by Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, Heidelberger Kunstverein-Ausser Haus project, Heidelberg
Livingroom Exotica, Kunsthaus Glarus, Glarus

the forever ending story #012, Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Basel
That’s all Folklore, CRAC Alsace, Altkirch
Wood you rather…, K3 – Project Space, Zürich
Drinnen & Draussen, Chert, Berlin
En Miroir, projections sur le Folklore, Centre d’art de Fribourg, Fribourg
Strange Comfort (Afforded by the Profession), curated by Adam Szymczyk and Salvatore Lacagnina in collaboration with Annette Amberg and Roos Gortzak, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel
Luck Draw, Sculpture Center, Long Island City, New York
The Amazone Conversation, Raum Zur Kunst, Basel

All The Girls Standing In The Line For The Bathroom, curated by Christiane Rekade, Artnews Project Space, Berlin
Kiefer Hablitzel, Swiss Art Awards, Basel

If it’s a bird, shoot it!, In Practice project curated by Sarina Basta, Sculpture Center, Long Island, New York
Un Art du Feu, curated by Guillaume Pilet, Espace Bellevaux, Lausanne
Folklore?, Centre culturel suisse de Paris, curated by Léa Fluck, Paris
X, 1M3, Lausanne
Black Diaspora, curated by Nathalie Rehbolz, Espace Out Of This Word, Territet
Joseph Hannibal Now!, curated by Joseph Hannibal, Galerie Blancpain, Geneva
Zoo Art Fair, with 1M3, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Sijang Jeon Eun Neomu Ileo, curated by Aurélien Gamboni, Espace Forde, Geneva
Even anti-heroes need their Mum, with Kim Boninsegni, K. Sgouridis, curated by Samuel Gross, Galerie Guy Bärtschi, Geneva
Ecal graduate exhibition, curated by Gloria Friedmann, Ecal, Lausanne
Anathema, with Lauris Paulus and Fabian Marti, curated by Boris Magrini, Fri- Art, Fribourg
Der Tanz der Doppelgänger, curated by Klat, Shark, Geneva


“TIES AND KNOTS AND BANDAGES at KRONE COURONNE, Biel/Bienne” by Kristina Grigorjeva and Camille Regli on Mousse, 14 November 2022, online.

“Vanessa Safavi per il Corriere della Serra”, Gianluigi Colin, La Lettura, Corriere Della Sera #504, 25 July 2021.

“Rubber Ghosts: Vanessa Safavi”, Interview by Yann Chateigné, MOUSSE Magazine Issue 67, Spring 2019, pp. 68-69.

“AGIVERO COLLECTION Che il Vero Possa Confutare Il Falso. May Truth Vanquish Falsehood”, by Sergio Di Stefano, Silvane Editoriale, 2017.
“Vanessa Safavi: Formas Frágiles” Interview by Mit Boras, NEO2, No.152, Creative Culture, ed. by Ipsum Planet, Monterreina, 2017, pp. 126-134.

“South likes: Vanessa Safavi at The Breeder, Athens”, Klea Charitou, South as a state of mind, March

“The joy of adventure: on the work of Vanessa Safavi”, Fabian Schoeneich, RES, June, 2013
“Des métaphores à la logique suspendue Vanessa Safavi”, Estelle Nabeyrat, Code 2.0, issue 6, Spring 2013
“Brand New”, Andreas Schlaegel, Flash Art, March – April, 2013

“Deserts, ideologies and relics”, Quinn Latimer,Frieze d/e, no. 7, Berlin
“A conversation between Vanessa Safavi and Silvio do Nascimento”, Wandering Magazine, no. 1, Berlin

“Fokus – Vanessa Safavi”, Christiane Rekade, Kunstbulletin
“Vanessa Safavi”, Aoife Rosenmeyer, Art in America
“Don’t you have anything else to talk about than the color of your car?”, Vanessa Safavi in discussion with Pauline Beaudemont, Capetown – New York

“Between the Tree and a Plastic Chair”, November, no. 2, November 2010
“Between the Tree and a Plastic Chair”, Andreas Schlaegel, Spike, October 2010

Kunstbulletin – The West-Coast of the Lake
Kunstbulletin – DECORUM, invitation de Zorro & Bernardo

Kunstbulletin – L’Atelier du coq a l’âne

Projects and Publications:

Medulla Plaza, exhibition catalogue at Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim, published by Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim, ISBN 9783943240160

De Generation of Painting, Vanessa safavi, foundation 107

Eat the blue, Le 116 center for contemporary arts, Montreuil, invitation by Jagna Ciuchta

Blind Traveller, monographic catalogue, Kunsthaus Glarus and Chert, Berlin

Drinnen & Draussen, exhibition catalogue, published by Chert & Motto, Berlin
Vanessa Safavi – Collection Cahiers d’Artistes 2010, published by Pro Helvetia, Fondation suisse pour la culture/Swiss Arts Council

ahahah, OBzine, Fanzine of contemporary art, limited edition, direction du fanzine OB#1
DK, self published fanzine

Lauris Paulus pour Naphtaline, Lausanne

This Year I’m 27, self published fanzine
Stay Home it’s Better, self published fanzine