The Samdani Art Foundation has invited Swiss visual artist, Raphael Hefti to visit Sylhet on a research trip in November 2018 to explore the site of the upcoming Srihatta–Samdani Art Centre in Sylhet, meet the local community and visit sites of industrial production within Sylhet to explore which material he would be most interested in transforming in the local context.
Hefti will return in February 2019 for three weeks to produce a performance that will leave a permanent sculptural trace which will form part of the Park’s landscape and be accessible to the Bangladeshi and international public. Hefti will catalyse new forms of exchange with the public by artistically transforming familiar materials and processes.
Raphael Hefti is an alchemist of sorts, seeking to enact dramatic transformations on whatever material he’s chosen to work with. He originally worked in electronics, before moving on to study industrial design, photography, and art, and he credits his fascination with mechanics and scientific processes—and what happens when they go awry—to long hours spent experimenting in the workshop.
Image: Raphael Hefti at Srihatta in Sylhet / Photo credit Diana Campbell Betancourt
About the artist
Raphael Hefti was born in 1978 in Biel and lives and works in Zurich and London. After an apprenticeship as an electronic technician he turned to art in 1998 and graduated from the Ecole cantonale d‘art (ECAL) in Lausanne and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Raphael Hefti has had solo exhibitions at Galerie RaebervonStaenglin, Zürich (2014), the CAPC centre d’art contemporain de Bordeaux and Ancient & Modern, London (2013), Camden Arts Centre, London and White Cube Bermondsey Space, London (2012). He was commissioned to create a permanent installation on the roof of the newly inaugurated Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles.
Hefti’s work focusses upon photography and sculpture, the former often resulting from experiments in the latter. The connection to craft and industry has always remained an important element of his work. Hefti’s fascination for industrial and technical phenomena leads him to experiments in which the choice of materials contains unpredictable challenges. He is concerned not only with the resulting product but equally with the process and the transformation of the material that this generates and which he pushes to an extreme. His activities can be described as alchemical: from making steel bars as fragile as glass to lighting up entire mountain valleys or transforming the exhibition space into a giant steel casting workshop.