|Andrea Galvani, Higgs Ocean (2009/2010)|
At the time of this article Italian artists and photographer Andrea Galvani was about to open his first solo show A Few Invisible Sculptures at the Meulensteen gallery in New York and had recently returned from a trip to the North Pole where he used scent to deliberately attract polar bears.
Using ephemeral elements like sound, scent, and conversation - in addition to rather more tangible drawings and photographs - as his tools Galvani challenges traditional notions of sculpture. We asked him a few questions about the show.
"The exhibition is an attempt to call definitions of sculpture into question," says Galvani.
What is the significance of the title A Few Invisible Sculptures?
The exhibition is an attempt to call accepted definitions of sculpture into question, to ask what we are talking about when we talk about sculpture and perhaps extend those boundaries. The works in the show deal with phenomenology - a sort of architecture of the invisible.
What role does sound play in this exhibition?
In A Sphere, a Cube, and a Pyramid, an audio track documents the echolocation of a group of bats flying around three suspended sculptures that I created and later destroyed. The recording provides a sonar scan of the negative space around the objects, which is then played back at an audible frequency in an immersive installation of 10 standing speakers, visitors can can only 'see' the sculpture by hearing it and thus making it invisible.
What have you been working on at the North Pole?
I’ve been there three times since 2009. During the first trip I developed the Higgs Ocean Project for the Fourth Moscow Biennial in 2011. The project documents a series of actions staged off the coast of the Svalbard islands in the Arctic Circle. Over the course of a 2,800km sail, I used two photovoltaic panels to collect and store the natural energy of the limited daily sunlight. I used the accumulated energy to power a flashlight capable of projecting a beam of light through the Earth's atmosphere - within a few minutes, the luminescent memory of my journey had been returned to the universe.
"The most recent trip a crazy project - I wanted to use smell to attract polar bears."
And what did you do on your most recent trip?
The most recent trip was sort of a crazy project. Over the course of six months I prepared for it with a team of scientists. I wanted to use smell to attract polar bears. In the beginning I didn’t know if it was going to be possible, but we were successful in the end. In the North Pole, bears are really aggressive. You’re not supposed to go on land without a professional hunter. When I realised that polar bears were everywhere, but that it wasn’t possible to get close to them, I started to think about a way to capture an image from an impossible perspective. The resulting photographs are in the show.