Floating Mountain (Mt Hemo)
Gastaldon has made a number of soft sculptures using materials associated with knitting and sewing that have alternately fetishistic, nightmarish or contemplative qualities. “Floating Mountain” is one of a group of works made from wool that overtly depict mountain forms. Suspended from the ceiling, the sculpture floats just above the floor. In the form of a mountain with a colored top, the sculpture recalls images of Mount Fuji, normally shrouded in snow, and memorialized in countless Japanese woodcuts. Mount Hemo, however, after which the work is named, was famously climbed by King Philip V of Macedonia, a feat that was alluded to by Petrarch in his own ascent of Mont Ventoux. Philip was a warrior king who fought the Romans and allied himself with Hannibal. The obvious link with the form of a mountain is complemented by the visual affinity of the work with a costume, possibly a bridal gown with its delicate filigree. The softness of the form and texture recalls the body. The presence of blood red suggests a carnal reading, the passage from innocence and virginity to knowledge and experience. The work thus unites landscape, sexuality and femininity within a single form whose delicacy and lightness suggests something dreamlike and ephemeral. The work is made via knitted yarn; has a makeshift feel in the sense of improvisation, although Gastaldon is an artist for whom craftsmanship is of great importance. Its craft also suggests the flow of liquid as one color bleeds into another. The linear construction of the object links it to the drawings that the artist makes of fantastical landscapes.
Vidya Gastaldon creates microcosms of hallucinatory, saccharine symbols with her sculptures, drawings, video animations, and prints. Working with mediums traditionally associated with feminine labor, such as knitting, sewing, and crocheting, Gastaldon continues the tradition of feminist trailblazers like Judy Chicago, Mary Kelly, and Rosemarie Trockel, but consciously avoids overt political statements. Eastern religion and new-age spirituality are dominant themes in Gastaldon's work — especially the idea of transformation. In her sculptures, yarn and thread form mountainous cones and internal organs, while her drawings depict mystical creatures with exaggerated smiley faces that morph into fantastical landscapes. Gastaldon's embrace of spirituality and psychedelia is genuine, but she also explores mankind's darker side through her allusions to nuclear destruction and the pervasive imagery of mass marketing.
Born in Besancon, Gastaldon lives and works in Geneva.