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Zaria Forman for Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin and Zaria Forman Celebrate the Overseas Collection in Iceland 

A journey into Iceland with artist Zaria Forman, a "One of Not Many" ambassador for watchmaker Vacheron Constantin.

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A Glacial Trek with Vacheron Constantin and Zaria Forman

In September, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, glistening glaciers, and roaring waterfalls of stunning Iceland, Whitewall embarked on a three-day journey from Reykjavik to Diamond Beach with watchmaker Vacheron Constantin. The trip coincided with the launch of the brand’s newest self-winding model joining the “Overseas” collection—an ongoing suite of elegant luxury-sport watches outfitted with technical features for the adventurous wearer. The off-road experience took us to sights like Kvernufoss Waterfall, Fjadrargljufur Canyon, and up close and personal with glaciers, their brilliant blue hues reflecting in the sea around us as we kayaked amid ice-filled waters. There we had the chance to test out the newest Overseas timepiece in action. 

With us on the adventure was the artist and explorer Zaria Forman, who recently joined the maison as a “One of Not Many” partner. Forman’s practice is centered on observing the changing landscapes in remote destinations across the world, in an effort to inspire viewers with imagery of remote locations they might not have the chance to experience in person. Having traveled to locations like Greenland and Antarctica, Forman first captures the scenery by photograph before she reimagines it with her own hand in magnificent, photorealistic pastel compositions. 

Zaria Forman is the New Face of Vacheron Constantin “Overseas” Collection

Commissioned by Vacheron Constantin, Forman, who is now the face of the latest “Overseas” collection campaign, traveled to the coastal destination of Fellsfjara, Iceland, before we met on our own Icelandic adventure. Equipped with a 35-millimeter Overseas model in white gold/platinum, the artist surveyed the terrain before capturing mesmerizing snapshots of the blue-tinged waters and glossy glacial surfaces—images that were the starting point for the artwork Fellsfjara, Iceland no.3, made exclusively for the maison to capture the essence of the “Overseas” collection.

Curious about Forman’s collaboration with the watchmaker and her practice as a whole, Whitewall caught up with the artist while we were in Iceland to learn more.

Zaria Forman for Vacheron Constantin
Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

Zaria Forman Talks Creating for Vacheron Constantin

WHITEWALL: Let’s start with your partnership with Vacheron Constantin. Can you tell us how it started, how it developed, and why you accepted?

ZARIA FORMAN: Cory Richards is a good friend of mine, and he is on the “One of Not Many” campaign. I’ve never done a partnership like this before with a major brand, but he had such a good experience. That was a really good way to enter a partnership, having a good friend that could recommend, and knowing that the people were kind, honest, real, and cared about his work. It was a good introduction. 

It didn’t feel rushed. We got to know each other. We also have a lot of crossover in terms of our interests. How we work is very aligned in this constant search for excellence and perfection, detail and precision, as well as in our love of travel and exploration, which is such a big part of my work and has been a part of their DNA forever. 

Then there’s this element of time, too, that has been a part of my work in so many ways since the beginning, since I’ve been capturing ice in my work: the time it takes a glacier to build, which can be two million years, or the time it takes for a glacier to collapse, which we don’t really know the answer to yet; the moment the sun is shining perfectly on an iceberg and I snap a picture; the moment it looks perfect that I make a drawing of, and then stretch that time out metaphorically and physically into the weeks and months that it takes me to make a drawing. 

Zaria Forman for Vacheron Constantin
Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

WW: Can you tell us how you became interested in documenting ice in your work as an artist and why you decided to focus on it? 

ZF: In 2007 was the first time I ever visited glaciers and icebergs. I went to Greenland with my family. From that experience, I was already planning on making work about Greenland, and it just became very clear that it was specifically what I needed to focus on. I’ve continued to do it since then because ice is a subject matter that continues to inspire me visually for so many reasons. 

Iceland’s Scenery Inspires the Artist

WW: Right now, we’re in Iceland. What about the scenery here is most inspiring? 

ZF: When I first came here in 2021, I drove around the whole Ring Road with my family, my husband, and my baby at the time. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but I’m always interested in ice, of course, and I really became especially captivated with Fellsfjara, the location that we got to see today. It really mesmerized me in a way that all the other views didn’t in terms of something that I wanted to create in my artwork. 

There’s this phenomenon on the beach—it’s hard to describe in words unless you’re actually there. There are these beautiful chunks of glacier ice that are so compressed from all the years that they’ve been pressured down beneath the glacier. They’re super clear and there are these little air bubbles inside. They break off the glacier and they move through the canal out into the ocean, and then the ocean washes them up onto the black sand beach. 

You have this stark contrast between the bright white, like diamonds of ice, especially when the light is hitting them just right, and then the black background underneath. It was just magical. If you look through the ice, you can see the waves of the ocean behind, and they create this mesmerizing light dance that doesn’t really register as waves when you’re looking through the ice. It just looks like this beautiful light dance in the ice. That was mesmerizing to me, and whatever I feel most drawn to is what I think other people will as well. That’s what I try to portray in my work, whether it’s drawings, or video, or sculpture. 

Zaria Forman for Vacheron Constantin
Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

WW: How do you work between your studio and your trips to places like Iceland’s Diamond Beach?

ZF: My process always begins by traveling, taking thousands of photographs, and I’ll take video footage as well. Then I also have to remind myself to put my camera down and just be in the landscape, to soak it up with my being, my soul, my heart, and my own eyes. 

Then I use both my memory of the experience as well as the photographs when I get back to my studio to create large-scale drawings, which is the main part of my work. I’ll begin with a simple pencil sketch, just to make a few lines to follow the outline of the iceberg, or the horizon line, and then I jump in pretty quickly with pigment pastel on paper, just smudging it with my fingers and palms. I don’t really use tools very often. Then I build up the color and do the finer details on top of that. 

Zaria Forman’s Practice Transports Viewers Incredible Destinations 

WW: What do you want to show the audience about ice? Its history, the future? What’s the message you want to communicate? 

ZF: The main purpose of my work is to try and transport viewers to these places that are so remote from most of our everyday lives, they’re difficult to get to, and somewhat inhospitable to human life. I have these incredible opportunities to visit them, and I want to move people. That’s why I draw. I work on such a large scale, and I draw it in as much detail as possible, because I want to re-create the exact image that I saw to try and transport the viewer to these places because I’ve fallen in love with them. They’re so beautiful, it’s hard not to when you see them. 

When you love something, you want to protect it. My hope is that if people can experience these landscapes in the way that I have, they will be motivated to want to protect and preserve them. I think art has a special ability to tap into people’s emotions. I don’t just think, it’s scientifically proven that it does. Art is the sharpest tool in my toolbox that I use to move people emotionally, and people take action and make decisions based on their emotions more than anything else. 

Zaria Forman for Vacheron Constantin
Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

WW: You’ve mentioned using other materials to represent ice—like glass, for example. Is that something that we can expect from you in the future? 

ZF: Hopefully, yes. It’s definitely still in the works. I was so captivated by the ice at Fellsfjara that it made me want to re-create that phenomena I was describing earlier in drawings, sculpture, and video. 

Sculpture is a whole new way of working for me. It’s actually been really fun so far, because normally I’m alone in my studio all day long and I’m an extrovert. It’s fun to be able to work with other people, fabricators, to try and re-create what I saw on the beach. But I keep hitting walls and having to push through them, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s been a fun process so far, and I hope I’ll get there. 

SAME AS TODAY

FURTHER READING

Christian Selmoni Spotlights the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Legacy in Dubai

This past November in Dubai, Whitewall was invited by Vacheron Constantin to a presentation of this year’s Les Cabinotiers timepieces.

Vacheron Constantin Debuts Collaboration with Chris Burden Estate

The North American flagship showcases the Swiss maison’s watchmaking expertise for more than 265 years, while also celebrating the watchmaker’s ties to the U.S.

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Kelly Wearstler

THE WINTER EXPERIENCE ISSUE
2023

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This past November in Dubai, Whitewall was invited by Vacheron Constantin to a presentation of this year’s Les Cabinotiers timepieces.
The North American flagship showcases the Swiss maison’s watchmaking expertise for more than 265 years, while also celebrating the watchmaker’s ties to the U.S.

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