Ascona hosts first Swiss retrospective dedicated to Nanda Vigo

Nanda Vigo's first retrospective exhibition in Switzerland is on view at the Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Ascona until June 25, 2023. Through forty works, the exhibition aims to analyze the salient stages of the artist's entire creative journey.

The Municipal Museum of Modern Art in Ascona, Switzerland, is hosting the first retrospective in Switzerland of Nanda Vigo (1936-2020). On view until June 25, 2023, the exhibition titled Alfabeto Cosmogonico is curated by Alberto Fiz and realized in collaboration with theNanda Vigo Archive in Milan. The exhibition aims to analyze the artist’s entire creative journey through forty works created between the late 1950s and the 2000s, documenting the salient phases of her creativity.

“Nanda Vigo’s work,” says Alberto Fiz, “represents for the viewer the opportunity for an immersive and totalizing experience made explicit by the exhibition project proposed in Ascona, which allows a series of interactions with the works. The artist does not create dogmas but activates spaces of freedom where he encounters an imperceptible and imponderable dimension that seems to connect with certain issues in philosophy and science.”

The itinerary, divided by thematic areas, opens with a section devoted toarchitecture and for the first time are reconstructed, thanks to the collaboration with theAcademy of Architecture of Mendrisio (they worked on original drawings), two projects conceived respectively in 1959 and 1965 such as the Cemetery Towers (in this case, the cemetery is developed in height creating the “Twin Towers for the deceased,” as Nanda Vigo stated) and the Monument for the dead of Vajont, fundamental for understanding his later research. A series of video and photographic documents illustrate some of his most famous projects such as the Zero House (1959-1962), the first of his immersive architectures or Scrabble under the leaf (1965-1968) created with Gio Ponti.

The audience then has the opportunity to relate to his most famous investigation, the one from the late 1950s related to "chronotopia,“ which represents the fusion of time (chronos) with space (topos) through light. To make the Chronotopes, Nanda Vigo uses simple forms: a quadrangular metal structure within which she inserts sheets of industrial glass that filter light. When this passes through the glass panes, in different ways depending on the time of day (time) and the angle at which they are struck (space), they generate sensations of mutations, uncertain impressions of space and brightness differently perceptible, capable of transporting the visitor to another dimension. In the exhibition, there are five Chronotopes, as well as the 1968 Chronotopic Environment of more than two and a half meters that allows for an immersive experience: ”Light goes and has no dimension and one can travel far," wrote Nanda Vigo, who has always conceived her research from an environmental point of view, in this regard.

Leaving the room dedicated to “chronotopia,” one enters a space where the dynamism of light passes through the Deep Spaces, made between 2010 and 2015, radiant or directional works in mirrored glass with a blue light inside that recalls a cosmogonic dimension.

Then there is a section devoted to the Light Trees (1970-1985), which develop an innovative idea of reflection on space, where nature and artifice find a new dynamic. The Light Trees have as their reference the symbolism of the tree.

On the second floor, the public is welcomed by the Chronotopic Wall of more than four meters, created for the occasion, which can radically change the overall perception of the museum. The Chronotopic Wall will remain permanently at the Ascona Museum enriching its contemporary art collection. The work was executed based on Nanda Vigo’s designs for modular structures, which represent a fundamental aspect of her architectural interventions, as evidenced by the presence of the Chronotopic Wall in her Milan home and in almost all of her works up to the most recent ones.

The exhibition also allows us to immerse ourselves in the two Genesis Lights, from 2006 and 2007, works in black crystal and red neon that evoke, with infinite cross-references, the cosmos and its symbology.

In this wide-ranging examination of Nanda Vigo’s work, the retrospective intends to take an in-depth look at the artist’s relationship with the world of design, and on this occasion a real living space is created where her most famous creations can be found, including the Cronotopo Mobile (1974) or the Golden Gate (1969), her most famous lamp with fluorescent light that seems to spring directly from chrome-plated steel. Other iconic objects include the Due Più (1971) where the Mongolia fur seat and backrests appear almost suspended from the tubular steel frame or the Stars Fell on Alabama chandelier (2019) that winks at jazz music.

Leaving the space dedicated to design, the audience is confronted by the Goral (in Buddhist philosophy it represents the light of creation and in the Jewish religion the destiny chosen by us), two imposing obelisks of contemporaneity made in 2015 that hold within them luminous signs that evoke imaginary universes.

In a circular path, the title work Cosmogonic Alphabet (1980s) appears at the conclusion of the exhibition with a series of trapezoidal structures of different sizes covered with mirrors. The works, based on their arrangement, reflect their surroundings, which become an integral part of the installation, creating a mysterious language. The perceptual mechanism is made explicit by the projection of Venus, Venice is a Cosmic Illusion from 1978, a rare film made by Nanda Vigo that features her as the protagonist of a performance, where mirror elements interact both with the architecture of the lagoon city and with her body using the same language of theCosmogonic Alphabet.

The exhibition is accompanied by a bilingual catalog (in Italian and English) with essays by Ilaria Bignotti, Alberto Fiz, Fulvio Irace, Barbara Könches, Marco Meneguzzo and the Nanda Vigo Archive.

For info:

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 5 p.m.; Sundays and holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Image: Exhibition set up at the Ascona Municipal Museum of Modern Art. Photo by FotoStudio1 Ascona

Ascona hosts first Swiss retrospective dedicated to Nanda Vigo
Ascona hosts first Swiss retrospective dedicated to Nanda Vigo

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