Not Vital is the sculpture house on the lake in Patagonia

Not Vital is the sculpture house on the lake in Patagonia

Not Vital is the sculpture house on the lake in Patagonia

NotOna, the home of Not Vital lake.

In the age of circumnavigation of the living room, it is a pleasure to travel at least with your imagination. Maybe in distant lands, where you are sure that you will never go. A tireless traveler who tells of carefully chosen destinations among the most remote is the Engadin artist Not Vital (his name is really like this: Not is a typically Romansh name). There are few like him, in fact, I would say that there is only him. The houses he builds in the most diverse corners of the world, and therefore unreachable by any tourist, are sculptures and architectures, permanent installations, uninhabitable dwellings, perhaps with too small entrances, very steep stairways, houses that always look at something: the sunset, the volcanoes, the night sky … Houses that, following a practice experimented since the 80s, Vital builds by involving local workers and using only the typical materials of the different cultures with which it comes in relation. On Casa Fashion, in April 2015, we told the house, an improper term as you will understand, that he built on an island in the middle of a Patagonian lake. He has a particular affection for the Vital islands: if the house overlooking the three volcanoes is on the island of Flores, in the Little Sunda Islands, the next one will be in the archipelago of Tonga … (Paolo Lavezzari)

© Cristián Orellana Terrsy

In Sent, the glamor of St. Moritz doesn’t come. It is here, in the heart of a noble and shy Engadine, who lives Not Vital, in his beautiful home-studio. The snow, “very little compared to usual”, cloaks everything and falls asleep. Not Vital indicates a large opening placed just under the roof: “It is a tradition that all homes have a window up there, large or small. It is always left open, even in winter. It is for swallows: if they come back earlier than expected, there is always a safe shelter for them. ”

Far further away, in Patagonia, on the side of a marble island, Not Vital has opened another unusual window. That square opening, headlong onto the waters of the General Carrera lake, between Chile and Argentina – Lake Buenos Aires for the Argentine side -, is the only element that allows to define “home” that sort of natural cathedral that the artist bought in 2008, baptizing her NotOna. “That island reminds me of my Engadine. Everything there is much bigger, but the climate and nature, so severe, unite them. Cold, wind, rain. But from that window you see a world so clear that it brings you back to true absolute».

That island, too beautiful, where the nature, as for Leopardi, is the personification of forces perpetually in opposition to man, Vital bought it from a Chilean lady. “With Cristián Orellana Terrsy, architect and my assistant, we were leafing through the iPad when we read:” AAA for sale islands in Chile. ” As soon as I saw it, I realized that it would be perfect for creating a new home. But building it would have been a wrong, violent intervention. It was enough to dig a tunnel in that spectacular piece of white marble, nothing more ». It was necessary to be light, like the flight of the swallows, and determined, like the strength of the mountain.

© Cristián Orellana Terrsy

Vital built with dynamite. Once again he used the unexpected, the explosion it creates instead of destroying, as if it had reversed the course of mechanical energy. A new figure. “The inhabitants of the coast are mostly miners, very good with stone and explosives. Under the careful, daily supervision of Orellana, they worked eight months, creating a tunnel fifty meters long. It is now a marble corridor so polished that your gaze seems to slide over it. ” From the outside, the only sign of the man, besides the window, is, on the east side of NotOna, a sort of tuning fork that rises from the lake to the sky: a large cube of six meters on each side, broken into two parallelepipeds – which contain the excavation material – separated by the narrow, forty-five degree inclined staircase leading to the entrance of the gallery house.

© Cristián Orellana Terrsy

NotOna is aunusual and fascinating island, an organic sculpture. Once again, the Swiss artist is entered the heart of the earth to bring out its beat. «It’s like a dream. If you can’t see it, you have to believe. ” The lake is of glacial origin, it originates from the Andes and flows into the Pacific through the Rio Baker. With an area of ​​1,850 square kilometers, it is, after Lake Titicaca, the second largest lake in South America. Its crystal clear waters are reminiscent of the alpine lakes in the Engadine mountains, where Vital grew up. “If you measure the distances from the equator, they are almost the same.” By calculating latitudes, Sent actually mirrors NotOna. Santiago de Chile is two thousand kilometers further north. The inhabited village closest to the shores of General Carrera is over three hours’ drive away.

© Cristián Orellana Terrsy

The waters that bathe the island house of Not Vital are turquoise and blue, depending on the time of year. There vegetation is strong and bold, like the mountain. Viewed from the window, the view takes your breath away. Looking from the coast, however, that opening makes the marble giant seem alive and kind. Vital’s works seem to shape the earth. This house of his exploded from the bowels as his passion for a distinct search. Powerful. Seismic. But at the same time delicate. Poetics.

While sitting in front of you, Not Vital already seems to think of another place to discover and live. He seems to have an internal appeal, like a gravitational force that attracts him to places where he can sculpt new houses. New “Heimat”. «A few months ago, I spent ten days in NotOna. Without phone or power. Domestic comforts do not exist there. Food, water, grapes, a piece of dry bread: everything becomes more precious, companions to look after. Be more careful with everything. Even shoes become part of your self, you cannot allow yourself to stumble, to break them ». From the window of Sent’s house, the twilight turns blue on the white Swiss mountains. Who knows if the swallows will return in the spring. «From the window of NotOna the night sky is always extraordinary. I can’t do it better».

© Cristián Orellana Terrsy

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