American artist Zaria Forman joins Vacheron Constantin's circle of "One of Not Many" talents. A passionate explorer and witness to changing landscapes, her spirit of discovery and openness to the world personifies the Overseas collection.

The “One of Not Many” campaign has brought together personalities whose way of being in the world reflects the values dear to Vacheron Constantin. During the last 5 years, values that have made Vacheron Constantin a recognised and respected brand within the exclusive circle of Haute Horlogerie connoisseurs. Alongside musician Benjamin Clementine, designer Ora Ito, photographer and explorer Cory Richards and Haute Couture designer Yiqing Yin, artist Zaria Forman now joins the Maison’s circle of talents.

The quest for excellence and a taste for adventure, passion and innovation, elegance and tradition, art and culture in all their forms have characterised the spirit of our Maison since its founding in 1755. This visionary, sensitive and demanding outlook is reflected in Zaria Forman’s artistic approach and territory of expression. She is a socially committed artist keenly aware that art conveys emotions and eager to share Beauty with the public”, said Louis Ferla, CEO Vacheron Constantin.

As Zaria Forman points out: “I knew nothing about High Watchmaking and discovered this incredible world through Vacheron Constantin’s lens. I was amazed by the craftspeople who ply their trade within the Manufacture, by their passion and vocation, and, above all, their handcrafted work, which reminds me of my own: modelling with my fingertips; enjoying a tactile and sensual relationship with matter in a process of creation and transmission; making a personal imprint on time and giving it a voice. The landscapes I love and depict in my work illustrate the passage of time, and its impact on the world and on humankind.”

An artist open to the world

Born in 1982 in the state of Massachussets, Zaria Forman is based in New York, yet her art is rooted in the most remote regions of the globe. With her camera slung over her shoulder, she has been travelling the planet for over 15 years documenting changing landscapes by collecting images and memories that she then reproduces in pastel on large-format paper, exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. During her expeditions, Zaria Forman takes thousands of photos and videos of these landscapes in transition. Back in her New York studio, she then combines these images with the memory of her experience on the ground to create strikingly beautiful large-scale compositions.

The intricate details of a snow dusted glacier, the blue-tinged reflections of ice in water, and foam-crested waves are all elements that the artist renders by smudging soft pastel pigments on paper, without tools, using only her fingertips or the palm of her hand. A meditative approach giving life to sensitive works that are realistic in every sense of the word.

Zaria Forman’s work is shown in museums and galleries around the world. Among her major exhibitions, the artist took part in Banksy’s Dismaland, a gloomy funfair about the decadent excesses of our society. She was an artist-in-residence aboard the National Geographic Explorer in Antarctica and was responsible for the very first permanent exhibitions of polar art on Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution ships.

A socially committed artist, Zaria Forman is also an uncompromising explorer. Starting in 2016, she has flown several times with NASA’s Operation IceBridge, airborne scientific missions over Antarctica, Greenland and the Canadian Arctic, which have helped to map changes in earth’s ice over the last decade. Zaria Forman has drawn unique material from these various flights over both poles to create majestic works depicting the beauty and fragility of our planet.

How would you define your work?
My aim as an artist is to offer viewers an opportunity to experience isolated places that they might not otherwise have the chance to visit. I work on a large scale, in order to envelop the viewer, and transport them to that place and time. We take action and make decisions based on our emotions, more than anything else. Art has a special ability to tap into our emotions. I show the beauty of what we stand to lose in my drawings in order to inspire people. When you fall in love with something, you want to protect it.

Vacheron Constantin is particularly committed to transmitting values and know-how. Does this philosophy echo your own sensibility and artistic approach?
Definitely. Stirring emotions, bearing witness to the natural world, attention to detail and beauty: these are the things about Vacheron Constantin that I admire. We share the same passion for the world around us and the same interest in the passage of time, and all that entails. Time is the key element in both Vacheron Constantin’s work and my own. The immense time it takes for a glacier to grow, the moment in time that I experience sunlight glistening on the side of an iceberg, the split second I capture it in a photo, the many weeks or months I spend exploring that moment in all its details to complete a drawing, the time it takes for the ice to melt. I want viewers to consider the future by looking through the prism of history that lives inside glacial remains. I want to play a part in helping to preserve beauty, as Vacheron Constantin does with its artisans, their expertise, the heritage and culture of watchmaking. We are both in a process of creation and preservation.

The Overseas collection that you represent in the “One of Not Many” campaign evokes exploration and openness to the world. What did you try to express during the shoot?
I am pretty much in a state of constant awe when traversing landscapes. I wanted to express that, in all its authenticity. The fragility of ice contrasts the reliability of an Overseas watch. Both tell time, and their intricacies, excellence and beauty run parallel.

On the occasion of this shoot, you drew material for a new series of unique works of art – Fellsfjara, Iceland – one of which is destined for Vacheron Constantin. What was your approach?
My goal as an artist is to give viewers an experience of remote places they might not have the chance to visit. I believe that feeling awe for a place leads to a desire to protect it. But after experiencing that emotional surge, how, as artists, can we inspire commitment? I draw calving glaciers in frigid bays and the eroding beaches of fragile coastlines. I am one of many artists whose work is fuelled by fascination with polar regions. I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the details of melting ice and how they may help us understand how glaciers form, shift, melt, and affect us all. The ice at Fellsfjara, Iceland, that I visited in September 2021, tells the story of the past and our future.

I was captivated by a phenomena I saw there, through the ice. Chunks of recently calved, compressed glacier ice were washed up onto a black sand beach. White capped waves splashed against the shoreline, and when viewed through the ice, the white ocean foam transformed into a light dance, distorted by the ice. The light moved through frozen layers, and around air bubbles perhaps ancient ones, that were locked inside when the ice was firt formed. I’ve made sound recordings of these bubbles popping open as glacial ice melts and releases them, and the familiar, satisfying crackle no doubt played a part in mesmerizing me in Fellsfjara, Iceland. This new body of work, including the drawing for Vacheron Constantin, will explore this phenomena in great detail, magnifying textures and surfaces in the ice that I have never before attempted in my work. It is an up close and personal view of melting glacier ice.

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