‘As a kid, growing up in Switzerland, I didn’t like to eat. I wouldn’t eat for days, so my father would carve little houses & towers out of cheese & I would eat the houses & towers without even being aware that it was food. So, I was eating architecture. 1 of my first models for the tower in my park in Sent was made out of cheese. After all, this is the food we are most renowned for in Switzerland, together with chocolate.’—Not Vital, Eating Architecture, Chile, 2007
Not Vital was born in 1948 in the village of Sent in the Engadine, a scenic valley in eastern Switzerland. His practice spans sculpture, painting, drawing and architecture, all inspired by a sense of place and culture. Leading a nomadic life and dividing his time between places such as Niger, Brazil, China and the Swiss mountains, and speaking five languages, place and culture all provide material for Vital.
His childhood laid many of the foundations for his artworks, specifically a fascination with habitat fostered by building tree houses and huts during his holidays. The roots of Vital’s work are in the Engadine mountains where his family has lived for centuries. His name, which often provokes curiosity, it itself historic – it has been borne by people in the area since the fourteenth century. This awareness of, and respect for, tradition has itself come to infuse much of Vital’s work.
SCARCH is a term coined by Vital to describe artworks that bridge sculpture and architecture, typically monumental in scale, and the title of the exhibition. This Book Lab is dedicated to some of Vital’s ‘houses’ to demonstrate his ongoing global project of conceptual site-specific buildings that fulfil a transcendental or social purpose; it provides further insight into the paradox of the artist: a restless traveller obsessed with the notion of habitat.
‘SCARCH’ is organised with Olivier Renaud-Clément and Giorgia von Albertini and runs from 25 January to 4 May 2020.
About Book Lab
The Hauser & Wirth Book Lab is a project devoted to exploring the important place that books and prints occupy in the practice of artists. Building upon Hauser & Wirth’s curatorial and publishing activities, the Lab presents thematic installations, displays and programming that invite reflection, creative thinking, and further conversations about the world of printed matter and its connection to artists’ ideas and objectives.