Vidya Gastaldon | Village Voice | VIDYA GASTALDON

Feb 20 2007

Art // Best in Show

Smiley Apocalypse
Vidya Gastaldon
by R.C. Baker
February 15th, 2007 3:55 PM

Vidya Gastaldon
Swiss Institute
495 Broadway
Through March 10

If you took the curlicue doodles and smiley faces from a schoolgirl’s binder and grafted them onto malignant tumors, you’d get some idea of Gastaldon’s drawings. This Geneva-based French artist uses various media to conjure visions that mingle apocalypse and ecstasy: The 2006 animation NuclĂ©arama begins with a pan across a simply drawn field of flowers leading to a nuclear power plant that is suddenly struck by lightning. The ensuing meltdown features strobing chromatic auras, then switches to flashing stills of mystical symbols, artworks, organisms, and plants, which segues into a film of rainbow pigments billowing and blooming in water—jellyfish morphing into mushroom clouds and back again. In the main gallery, one wall offers Coeur de guru (2005), a six-foot-high conglomeration of bulbous pink and red blobs made of embroidery, wool, and foam connected by fabric tubes into a vague heart shape; elsewhere, three nine-foot-high cones fabricated from wool over iron thread are suspended from the ceiling, hovering like a range of magical mountains. Gastaldon offers spiritual concoctions as antibodies to our will to destruction.