Vidya Gastaldon

Written by:
John Sullivan
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At the Swiss Institute of Contemporary Art through March 10, 2007 is a solo exhibition of works by Vidya Gastaldon, entitled, “Stop Believing, Start Knowing.” The title alludes to something one discovers on the journey through her world, that there is a knowing beyond consciousness. The works consist of various sculptural objects constructed with knotted, woven yarn and fabric, surreal landscapes with watercolor and pencil on paper, and one video/sound installation, all of which explore order and chaos, interconnectedness between inner and outer worlds, transformation germinated by active and counteractive creative intelligences. Her show speaks to one’s visceral and intuitive sensibilities.

“Floating Mountain 1, 2 and 3” are enormous free floating sculptural forms, conical lampshades, various hues and textures of yarn strung together to a stiff braided base. Positioned near a row of windows the natural sunlight illuminates with dazzling effect as light radiates off and through the fibers. The movement of the viewer’s body is echoed by these oblong, volcanic shapes, which hover, subtly spinning and eerily quiet. From a distance the taut fibrous knotted strands are seamless clusters of bleeding color, dripping, or erupting.

On the surrounding walls are pencil drawings, accented with faint watercolor tints with titles like, “Marshmallow Passage” and “Mucus Mountain”. They are imagined spheres where corpuscles become roots, bulbous blood vessels bloom into flowers on rolling hills, and eyeballs are nuclei or pebbles. These biomorphic morphing landscapes, which shift one in and out from the cellular level of vascular systems to the vast expanse of ecosystems, have a dream-like quality vacillating between chaos and destruction, birth and creation.

Gastaldon’s work is laden with symbolism: a dancing, nose-less goddess with a larva grin, a free-standing Romanesque portal, and the equilateral triangle or pyramid. This geometric shape occurs in several drawings and a minimalist sculpture entitled, “Radiance Teleport 12”, done in varying flesh and blood tones. The triangle, prominent in a web of serpentine contour lines, represents either a void or source. The symbolic aesthetic is somewhere between a 1970’s LSD poster and the album cover to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. It seems to have an oracular purpose, representing a higher intelligence or force.

In the screening room, is a video/sound installation. Waves of new-age digital sounds drift one into a trance, while a Darth Vader like form shifts in and out of focus, through variations in color saturation, evolving and blending, becoming less defined or more menacing. Next, an anxiety provoking string of shapes within shapes emerges, shifting one’s perspective uncomfortably ad infinitum from microscopic to macroscopic, revealing patterns within patterns, wedding all things big and small. Lastly, a slow-motion sort of nuclear war, atom bomb effect with smoke puffs and buoyant bodily tissues floating, drifting, reacting and relating.

“Stop Believing, Start Knowing,” is definitely worth the free admission. It reveals the fusion of the biological and ecological with the metaphysical, the linkage between the creative and the counter-creative, transformative forces of genesis and entropy. Visit for more information.

Swiss Gallery

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