On Monday, the exhibition Elevation 1049 kicked off in Gstaad, unveiling the work of twenty-four important names in Swiss contemporary art. Among them, an in situ installation by Olympia Scarry, a prodigious artist whose name is closely linked to the house of Dior.
It's a work suspended between earth and sky, a high-altitude connection between the ice of a mountain lake and the snowflakes fluttering in the air. Planted in the frozen surface of Lake Lauenen, in the countryside above Gstaad, poles resembling the posts used in Switzerland to mark off constructions sink imperceptibly into the water, according to the changing temperature. Of the poetic and ephemeral work she's presenting as part of the exhibition Elevation 1049 – Between Heaven And Hell , the artist Olympia Scarry explains:"It will then collapse and disappear when the lake melts ."
This dialogue between art and the snowy summits is what Elevation 1049 – Between Heaven And Hell is all about. From Thomas Hirschhorn's village sculpted in the snow to Olaf Breuning's work inspired by the tracks of skiers on the pistes which transforms a stretch of snow into a vast colored canvas, from Roman Signer's wooden chalet on skis to Urs Fischer's bronze sculpture crying icy tears, each of the works makes use of the Gstaad landscape. It's thanks to the impetus of Olympia Scarry and her companion Neville Wakefield, both curators of the exhibition, that this project placed the focus on the legendary ski resort. Why Gstaad? For its high-altitude location, which seems so perfect for the dialogue of art with earth and sky, with heaven and hell, and for its splendiferous snowy landscape which provides the perfect backdrop for these artistic creations. But also because Olympia Scarry spent a chunk of her adolescent years in this refuge for the international jet set.
Today, the artist lives far from her native Switzerland, in New York, a cosmopolitan and inspiring town, much like Gstaad, and acting as an invitation to explore new artistic territories. The artist has recently collaborated with the house of Dior on two sculptures: in one, the Lady Dior appears to emerge from a block of marble; in the other the misshapen bag is realized in blown glass. These two works, in which the refinement of the house's iconic bag meets two very blunt materials, can be seen along with those of other major names in contemporary art in the traveling exhibition Lady Dior As Seen By .