Elaborate Towers Emerge from Basic Building Blocks in Raffaele Salvoldi’s Architectonic Installations

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A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks in a large room with a man looking up at it.

All images © Raffaele Salvoldi, shared with permission

In January 2021 in the middle of Italy’s second Covid-19 lockdown, photographer and director Raffaele Salvoldi’s work took a different turn. “That was a tough time since I wasn’t working and had a lot of free time. So, I started to build small forms to keep my hands and mind busy,” he tells Colossal, sharing that he tapped into the nostalgic, childhood activity of tinkering and stacking simple wood blocks.

At the base of Salvoldi’s towering, temporary installations is a single component: KAPLA planks. Devised by a Dutch antique dealer in the late 1960s, KAPLA are an alternative to chunkier blocks that make it easier to build long or horizontal features like lintels and roofs. Initially, Salvoldi started with a set of 1,000 of the wooden construction bricks, and as he amassed thousands more, his constructions became increasingly voluminous. Spiraling columns, delicate towers, and airy apertures emerge gradually from a foundation on the floor, and the structures are often illuminated from inside and reveal dramatic effects in cavernous spaces. Each piece responds to its environment, drawing the eye upward to unique settings like the historic, neoclassical Casa Bossi. “The only limit is your imagination and, of course, gravity,” he says.

One of Salvoldi’s installations can take between three weeks and four months to complete, and rather than opening a show with a completed work, viewers are invited to observe as he adds piece after piece over time. “I believe it isn’t just a performance, rather a kind of a window on an artistic process,” he says. “That’s why I like to define it as a living, mobile room or atelier that people can visit and see the installation growing day after day, week after week.” When a show closes and the work must be disassembled, visitors are invited to deconstruct the installation by throwing additional planks at it until it crumbles, or the artist will devise a domino-like path of KAPLA that strikes at the foundations.

In May 2022, Salvoldi founded the project Wood Arc through which he continues his research into architectural and structural forms. Between February 12 and April 2, he will exhibit a new work at the 16th-century Villa Bono, just north of Novara, Italy. Find videos and more of his work on Instagram, and learn more about the project on his website.

 

A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks.

A GIF of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks.

Left: A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks. Right: The interior of a tower made from KAPLA blocks.

A photograph of the inside of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks

Two photographs of towers made out of KAPLA blocks

A photograph of two towers made out of KAPLA blocks and an ornate ceiling.

A photograph of an installation made out of KAPLA blocks comprised of an arch and towers.

Two photographs of a tall tower made out of KAPLA blocks, illuminated in the dark.   A photograph of two towers made out of KAPLA blocks in a large, ornate room with a decorated ceiling. The artist stands between the two towers for scale.

A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks with an ornate ceiling in the background.

Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. The article Elaborate Towers Emerge from Basic Building Blocks in Raffaele Salvoldi’s Architectonic Installations appeared first on Colossal.

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