With LANIAKEA, the sculptor Manuela Zervudachi teleports us into the “immeasurable heaven”
One has to raise one’s eyes very high towards the sky to grasp the work of Manuela Zervudachi, and for her cosmic, immense inspiration to take on its full meaning.
LANIAKEA – meaning “immeasurable heaven” or “immense celestial horizon” in Hawaiian – designates the supercluster of galaxies which contains our Milky Way. It stretches over 500 million light years and contains more than 100,000 galaxies.
Defined in 2014, the term pays tribute to the Polynesian navigators who would read the starry skies to better navigate the Pacific Ocean.
For Manuela Zervudachi, who is fascinated by space and the miracle of life, it is high time to put human beings back in their place, on their minuscule and modest scale. We are part of a vast community of galaxies, a supercluster named LANIAKEA. The Milky Way is situated on its edge, and our home – this tiny blue dot – gravitates there around a star which we have named the Sun.
“Humans are born of this dust, this substance that comes from stars”, she says, quoting freely from the positions of the astrophysicist Hubert Reeves – who is also aware of the impact of human activity, being a famous activist for the defence of the environment.
This material is the driving force of the artist’s work. Upon contact, she assembles in the palm of her hands the stuff of stars, the celestial in the terrestrial. Green for copper dichromate, red for iron: the tones are associated with the particles. Manuela models, kneads, moulds, shapes and paints the elements that compose the origin of the world: iron, tin, earth, resin, plaster, bronze, brass… thus giving life to her sculptures. Her imagination seems limitless, like the space she depicts.
Her works release a contemplative elixir, full of the treasures of an ever-renewing awe. They contain inside them the power of awakening, and the clarity of hope.
After the StarZ exhibition presented in 2015 at the Agnès Monplaisir gallery in Paris, the Espace Muraille gallery in Geneva is now gearing up to welcome her next personal exhibition. Fifty-odd works will be presented there, like these black-enamelled terra cotta polyhedrons, crossing space like a rain of meteorites; or these cloud-nests, made of terra cotta and covered in pigmented Chinese lacquer; or even her DNA Galaxy, where the human merges with the celestial in a nuptial spiral.
Hang on tight: this new sidereal journey will take you further than ever before.
Exhibition from Friday May 25th to Saturday September 8th
Summer Break from July 15th to August 13th