Swallowing Surfaces ; If They Swell, de Laure Vigna
Visual arts



2 min

Swallowing Surfaces ; If They Swell, by Laure Vigna

Through sculpture, Laure Vigna shows the transformation processes that metamorphoses organic and non-organic materials. With Swallowing Surfaces, she shows us the first stage: a set of sculpted glass that appears to be in the process of being formed.

© DR

The stages of metamorphosis

Born in 1984 in Burgundy, the sculptor graduated from the Lyon Higher National College of Fine Arts in 2008. During her first residencies in 2010 in Sèvres and Marseille, Laure Vigna modelled and reinterpreted territories, physical spaces that she had explored during a solo trip to the Sierra Nevada.


Her first personal and group exhibitions – “Walking along the Pebble Shores” at Générale en Manufacture, as part of the “Panorama de la jeune” showcase for young artists at the 6th Biennial of Contemporary Art in Bourges – also show her interest in materials that time can alter, or that human intervention can transform. This tireless search now leads to a new work: Swallowing Surfaces; If They Swell, a work on casting and melting glass.


Stories of transformation

The sculptor’s interest in glass stems not only from the ecological quality of a material that can be recycled almost infinitely, but also from its malleability. During her residency at Yucca Valley Material Lab in the Mojave Desert in Southern California, she experimented with techniques for glass casting and fusing, which enabled her to understand glass in all its metamorphoses: solidification, liquefaction and viscosity, as well as distribution and deformation.


Each piece is drawn and then carved into clay to create a mould in which the glass is poured. It is then polished at length in cold conditions as desert sand is subjected to the elements.


At the end of this residency work, 10 glass sculptures were brought together for Swallowing Surfaces; If They Swell, each bearing its layers, distortions, transparencies and opacities and alternating between interior and exterior space.


From writing to shaping

This work is the result of research in Los Angeles on the mythologies of the metamorphosis of bodies and matter, inspired by the First Nations populating the Mojave Desert, and learning about glass working at Yucca Valley Material Lab.

Each of the 10 pieces that make up Swallowing Surfaces; If They Swell is a renewed vision of a transition from continuous to discontinuous, illustrating the constant transformation of the landscape, material and space.

In June 2019, at the end of this creative phase, the work was exhibited in the desert, on the ground itself - mineral compositions returned to their original nature.


Influence of First Nations in the United States

Through its landscapes and geology that call for contemplation, and through its mythologies, the Mojave Desert has intensely nourished Laure Vigna's reflections on the metamorphoses of things and bodies.


With this new material which she is experimenting with, the artist adds a thread to the weft underpinning her tireless study of the dynamic transformation of material, the understanding of the processes used in different cultures and the societal responses given to economic and environmental issues.

The Institut français and the project

Swallowing Surfaces ; If They Swell was conceived and produced by Laure Vigna during a Étant donnés residency in the United States. Find out more about the Etant donnés residency programme