We caught up with Yvette Mattern to chat about Global Rainbow that exhibited during Art Basel Miami Beach, and why she thinks it's so relevant in today's social and political climate.
"I have like a rainbow connection now," says Yvette Mattern. Of course she would. As the artist behind the Global Rainbow (a 170-W laser light projection with a viewing spectrum of up to 60 km), Mattern has shone a non-natural and mind-altering rainbow to the world, including Miami where the large-scale installation (commissioned by Lionheart Capital and Ritz-Carlton Residences) debuted during Art Basel, ultimately casting a kaleidoscopic spell on the city for the entire week. Here, we spoke to Mattern about chasing rainbows and the color she hopes to bring to the world through her unique form of visual artistry.
Did you chase rainbows growing up? YVETTE MATTERN: I wasn’t like a rainbow girl. I didn’t believe in unicorns. It was really because of this rainbow I saw touched me in a deep level. Now I see more natural rainbows than I ever have in my entire life.
The first Global Rainbow shined bright over NYC in 2009, which since then, a dozen have followed around the world. Was that the intention from the get-go? YM: I was trying to figure out how to place myself within the context of visual art and realized I needed to identify with a specific medium; then I saw this incredible life-changing rainbow and thought, "Nobody has ever made a light work that is the scale of a real rainbow." Everyone thought I was insane and it took two years of research to figure out how to realize that vision of creating basically a rainbow light work in the scale of a real rainbow.
And that was lasers? YM: That’s where it all began—2009 was like a test. The lasers weren’t really powerful but they were powerful enough to get some beautiful photographs and begin the journey of where we are now. In 2010 was when we were really able to engage with really powerful lasers.
Why call it Global Rainbow? YM: The idea was to have spontaneous presentations on the same night and connect it all around the world.
Art Basel is a huge benchmark for any artist. How did that happen? YM: I’ve been getting requests since I started doing [this], and have been thinking about Miami for years. LionHeart called me about two years ago and we started working on the project. It’s been challenging since it’s such a big scale so we had to find the right location—I love the Ritz Carlton Residences project—and bring it altogether.
What do you hope people take away from it? YM: I never try to dictate what their experience should be but I think people will always be kind of in awe of it like a natural rainbow. It’s a personal thing.
Does the rainbow represent any current issues? YM: I did it in Mexico City the day after the election. On a global scale it’s a very dark time; people are really concerned about what’s happening politically, and on every level. There is so much division, people don’t know, really know, what’s going on, and I think the strength of the Global Rainbow and why it keeps being requested—and also reacting to it in a way—is because it has this sense of beauty and hope, and wow. There’s still magic in the world, there’s something we haven’t seen before. It moves us forward into the future in a way that is super positive, and that’s my intention.