Art@Site Ralfonso

Ralfonso 'Ralf' Gschwend


Dance with the Wind

Olympic Park
Ralfonso 'Ralf' Gschwend is a Swiss designer of large environmentally interactive, kinetic, light and sound sculptures. As a kinetic artist he has pushed the boundaries of traditional, static art forms to introduce visual experiences through the interaction with the environment such as wind, light and water. He is an award winner of the Beijing City Sculpture Competition 2007 and a winner in the 'Contest of Landscape Sculpture Designs for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games'. His wind sculpture 'Dance with the Wind' – 33 ft (10m) tall – was commissioned and permanently installed at the Olympic Park in Beijing, the People’s Republic of China (China) in 2008. With his passion for Kinetic Art, he cofounded the Kinetic Art Organization (KAO) in 2001 with a German and a US fellow Kinetic Artist. Now, with more than 1000 members in over 60 countries KAO has become the largest kinetic art organization in the world. 'The walls between art and engineering exist only in the mind.' Theo Jansen: Please tell us about what inspires you in your work? My passion for this particular niche of sculptural art started very early. Even as a very young boy I was always fascinated with engineering, mechanics and design. From this fascination I started to design objects and sculptures that have a motion component. I am inspired by nature, by the shape and natural interaction of all the elements. So my sculptures gently move with the wind, the water, or when pushed by hand.
Ralfonso Gschwend (1959), who shares his time between his native Switzerland and Florida, employs air currents, light and water in his impressive kinetic sculpture. "Dance with the Wind" is the nine foot tall working prototype he created for the 30-foot sculpture version that was commissioned for this summer's 2008 Olympic Park in Beijing, China. A striking illustration of compound pendulums, this dynamic work is composed of stacked spheres in decreasing diameter, each swaying within a dimensional perimeter that pivots independently, suggesting an oversized and unhinged shimmering necklace. Reminiscent of the exquisitely polished experiential public sculpture of Anish Kapoor, this sculpture uses the reflection of its environment to pull the viewer in, while the rhythmic oscillations conjure chaos. Ralfonso was invited and selected as one of twenty international artists to create a sculpture for Olympic Park. The small version (9') working-prototype was installed in Geneva, Switzerland in April, 2008.