Indeed, there is no entity, no molecule in the world that is not affected by the passing of time. As they say, change is the only constant state. My research on glaciers has been on-going since several years. They were here before us and can tell us about the past as much as the future if we are open and able to listen.
Born in 1989, Douglas Mandry is a Swiss artist with an atelier based in Zürich. After graduating with a Bachelor (Hons) in Visual Communication and Photography from the ECAL University of Arts and Design, he developed a new artistic practice through a multi-layered approach, such as photography, technology, philosophy, and history.
Mandry is an accomplished photographer whose impressive body of work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe. His talent has not gone unnoticed, as he has been nominated for the prestigious Paul Huf Award on three separate occasions. Most recently, he earned top honours at the 2020 Foam Talent Award for his striking collection entitled “Monuments.” Through this collection, Mandry delves into the urgent issue of glacier melt, showcasing a series of photograms that depict the natural beauty of melting ice alongside archival photographs of alpine expeditions. The result is a thought-provoking and visually stunning exploration of the relationship between humans and the natural world.
Hoping that audiences can reflect and meditate on the times we live in, where we come from, and where we are heading. Mandry plays with existing elements and reconfigures their relationship with each other. “I see my work as a non-linear re-interpretation of reality,” he said.
Today, Douglas’ latest artistic work, titled Gravity Flow, pushes his creative expression into a new medium. It is a sculptural work developed as a public installation displayed in Swiss nature meant to address the urgent topic of climate change and its visible impact on Swiss glaciers, visibly receding from melting as a result of the passing of time and climate change.
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Supported by the scientific findings of glaciologists at ETH Zurich, La Prairie sponsored Gravity Flow, a series of five sculptures made of 100% recycled glass – related to the phenomenon of ice being carved by the flow of water underneath glacial ice.
Both reach a consensus on the importance of preserving nature.
Works of Art
“My wish is that people go out in the open air and enjoy the experience of a mountain hike through the sculptures. The project is made of many layers, and of course some of them address the global changes we are facing. Yet, far from being didactic, I prefer to set up a frame for a more meditative experience — the landscape, the weather, the view on a glacial area. The glass sculptures should be a trigger for imagination and reflection in this whole experience,” Mandry said.
Why work with glasses? The handwork of glass is a thousand-year-old cultural legacy. “It can be fragile but is extremely dense. All those paradoxal qualities brought me to experiment with glass and come up with large, heavy sculptures, based on an immaterial visualisation of a volatile natural phenomenon.”
As a Swiss artist, their evolution matters to me as they have been part of my life since childhood. I realised that art was a way to study them, but also to communicate about them at the same time. By talking about glaciers, I feel like I am talking about us all. It is a global reflection which everyone should have about climate change. Glaciers made global change visible.
In the foreseeable future, Mandry will be bringing the community to a unique set of archives created exclusively for a special research project worldwide. More than 70,000 glass plates from the beginning of the last century are accessible for development and, he is currently diving into those incredible images and collecting information.
As an engaged artist, glaciers have been a big part of Mandry’s work as they are part of his life as a Swiss artist but there are many other subjects to be explored and addressed. “I started working on corals being illegally exported, as well as the shifting of natural elements such as sand, which is one of the most threatened materials in the world,” he adds.
“Art should be a testimony of our times, and an opportunity to open a reflective approach of our existence, to pave a path towards a hopefully better future,” Mandry believes.