In Search of Frankenstein
The “Year Without a Summer”—1816—belongs to a three-year period of severe climate deterioration of global scope caused by the eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia in April 1815. With plummeting temperatures, and disruption to major weather systems, communities across the globe faced crop failures, epidemic disease, and civil unrest on a catastrophic scale. In 1818, Giétroz glacier, at the site of the Mauvoisin Dam near Verbier, overflowed and flooded the entire valley and surrounding areas.
In Search of Frankenstein is the result of the 2016 3-D Foundation residency, in which Chloe Dewe Mathews was invited to Verbier to make new work in response to the glacial environment of Bagnes, Switzerland: a landscape that provides a fitting backdrop for her commentary on the increasingly fragile relationship between man and the natural world.
The artist explored the landscapes of the Corbassière Glacier, Giétroz Glacier, Mauvoisin Dam and local surrounding villages while working with local authorities, mountaineers, and glaciologists to further her research while developing the work.
The resulting photographs suggest the contemporary relevance of Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein (1818)’, which was conceived in the Swiss Alps as a direct consequence of the extraordinary weather conditions that took hold during the “Year without Summer”. It was while reading Shelley’s novel and visiting the glaciers and nearby nuclear shelters, that Chloe was inspired to create a project that would attempt to use the book’s literary themes to discuss the environmental and social issues of our time.
In Search of Frankenstein, provides an artistic response to the current era of the Anthropocene. The series visualises opposing environments that coexist under the influence of climate change and technological advance, whilst raising questions on the ethics of science and the possibility of a modern sublime.
For more information on the project: http://www.3-dfoundation.com/index.php/exhibitions/current/