“I do not search, I find”: an Interview with Vanessa Billy

by Carla Ingrasciotta
May 2, 2016
Carla Ingrasciotta
Vanessa Billy

In occasion of our special issue dedicated to Art Basel we asked artist Vanessa Billy to share with our readers her artistic vision on two art destinations, Basel and Zurich.

Vanessa (born 1978 in Geneva, lives and works in Zurich and London) is having her new solo show at BolteLang, Zurich for which she has created new and unedited artworks.

The Swiss artist works with collages, sculptures and installations. Picasso’s words, “I do notsearch, I find” are also indicative of Billy’s practice. She is led by a process of intuitive and continual gathering of source material, often overlooked or unexpected media. Through her conceptual art, she produces analogies between physical and mental constructs. Her sculptural works bring together a variety of different forms and materials which translate allusions to a transformative moment or action with the effect of anchoring the work to its surroundings. Billy’s works occupy space with a corporeal but vulnerable presence, highlighting the various discrepancies in the relationship between man and earth.


Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with your exhibition at BolteLang. Could you tell us more about your new works? Where did you get your inspiration?

Vanessa Billy: At the moment I am thinking a lot about the butterfly effect theory and how every action has a consequence visible or invisible to us.

C.I.: Your art focuses on environmental issues, you work with organic, synthetic, man-made materials. Could you tell us more about the relationship you investigate between man and earth and which is the message you want to share?

V.B.: I don’t have a message per se and I don’t want to make didactic art, rather to provide a heighten sense the stuff we live with, in the world we have created for ourselves.

C.I.: Could you tell us a bit more about “Refresh, Refresh (Drip Squeeze)”, the artwork we have chosen as featured cover image of our website?

V.B.: It’s a sculpted oversized lemon cut in half and squeezed and then cast. It’s about energy and ways it gets passed on from one entity to another.

C.I.: You are mainly based in Zurich. What is your relationship with the city and why did you choose to live here? Do you think it’s stimulating for an artist to live there?

V.B.: Yes it’s a great place to live. I have the time and space to think about things in a way that I never had in London.

C.I: Do you have a studio which is open to the public? Do you work by yourself or do you work with a team?

V.B.:I work alone in the studio and work with specialists to help me produce things when needed

C.I.: You live and work close to Basel. Could you tell us which is your relationship with this city and recommend five places in Zurich or Basel you would suggest to someone who loves art?

V.B.: I sometimes work with Kunstbetrieb in Basel, I don’t know if they are ever open to the public but it’s an amazing place to see art in the making.  A must see is the new Kunstmuseum Basel building, and in Zürich I would recommend the Sigmar Polke stained glass windows at the Grossmunster and the Migros Museum, then there’s a lot of off spaces in Zurich which are really worth taking the time to visit.

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