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Contemporary art meets silicone science

Contemporary art meets silicone science

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A monumental new glass sculpture titled Qwalala by American artist Pae White made its debut on May 11 at LE STANZE DEL VETRO, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, coinciding with the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. It will remain on display until November 2018. The sculpture was supported by Dow High Performance Building and enabled by a proven silicone structural glazing sealant and technical support from Dow Corning Europe S.A.
Qwalala is a 75-meter-long, 2.4-meter-high serpentine wall created from thousands of one-of-a-kind, hand-cast glass bricks. Referencing the meandering flow of the Gualala River in Northern California, USA, the wall’s ever-shifting play of light recalls the way the color and temperature of the water changes minute by minute as it flows to the sea. The structure is supported by a steel base and held together entirely by Dow Corning® 993 Structural Glazing Sealant.
According to LE STANZE DEL VETRO, the museum that commissioned the sculpture, “the wall explores the limits of glass as a building material and bears witness to Pae White’s interest in combining common materials with cutting-edge technology, traditional craftsmanship with advanced engineering, and employing industrial manufacturing to challenge the limits of each of these.”
Creating a self-supporting structure with bricks weighing 23 kilograms is not only a work of art; it also is a feat of engineering. German engineering firm schlaich bergermann partner carefully calculated the geometry and stresses of the sculpture and researched multiple options for glues and sealants. Dow Corning 993 Structural Glazing Sealant was identified as the product that best fits the specific project requirements.
“Dow Corning 993 Structural Glazing Sealant’s white color, mechanical strength and cure speed made it the ideal sealing and bonding choice to help Pae White achieve her artistic vision,” said Davide Bianchi, Dow High Performance Building Solutions business developer for Italy.
Dow Corning 993 Structural Glazing Sealant is a two-part silicone sealant with proven structural capabilities. It offers excellent adhesion to a wide range of substrates, including coated, enameled and reflective glasses; anodized and polyester paint-coated aluminum; and stainless steel. The sealant meets the requirements of European Technical Approval Guideline 002 (ETAG 002-1), a very demanding standard for silicone structural glazing sealants. Additionally, recent projected durability testing by the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM) in Germany predicts a potential service life of 50 years.
In addition to supplying the sealant for the project, Dow provided product selection advice, technical support and application calculations. The Dow team also recommended a contractor with the equipment and experience required to do the on-site bonding.
“Dow Corning 993 Structural Glazing sealant is based on more than 50 years of silicone structural glazing science and has a long history of proven performance worldwide,” Bianchi said. “How fitting that it should be showcased in conjunction with an international event celebrating more than a century of art innovation!”
About Silicone Structural Glazing
Pioneered by Dow Corning Corporation in the mid-1960s, silicone structural glazing (SSG) is a curtainwall-bonding technology that uses a structural silicone sealant to adhere exterior glass directly to metal frames without the need for metal fasteners. SSG has grown in popularity worldwide, freeing architects to achieve pure glass aesthetics and to create structures previously thought to be beyond the realm of possibility. Designed to accommodate movement and transfer windloads from the glass to the building framework, SSG systems must be able to withstand decades of environmental exposure (e.g., UV radiation, temperature extremes and weathering) as well as mechanical stressors. The most common SSG designs use either two-sided SSG (vertical joints bonded) or four-sided SSG (both horizontal and vertical joints bonded).
About Dow Corning­­
Dow Corning (, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company, provides performance-enhancing solutions to serve the diverse needs of more than 25,000 customers worldwide. A global leader in silicones, silicon-based technology and innovation, Dow Corning offers more than 7,000 products and services via the company’s Dow Corning® and XIAMETER® brands. More than half of Dow Corning’s annual sales are outside the United States. Dow Corning’s global operations adhere to the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care® initiative, a stringent set of standards designed to advance the safe and secure management of chemical products and processes.
About Pae White
Pae White (b. 1963) is an American artist based in Los Angeles, California. Working across media, she pursues an expansive practice that embraces sculpture, installation and painting as well as architecture, furniture and graphics. White’s large-scale architectural installations often are carefully integrated into their respective sites. Her practice is characterized by an unconventional use of materials such as glass, fabric, paper, wire and vinyl and her desire to create work beyond her personal skill set by inviting artisans and industrial fabricators to help realize her ideas. Exploiting the perceived gaps between art, craft and design, White has created an extraordinarily diverse body of work.
LE STANZE DEL VETRO is a long-term joint initiative between Fondazione Giorgio Cini and Pentagram Stiftung, devoted to exhibiting and studying the art of glassmaking in the 20th and 21st centuries. Pae White’s Qwalala is the second in a series of outdoor commissions by LE STANZE DEL VETRO on San Giorgio Island in Venice. The concept of these temporary installations is to allow an internationally acclaimed artist to work on a large scale and to engage with the space between sculpture and architecture. Each project will be presented over two years, during Venice’s Art and Architecture Biennales, aiming to address both of their respective audiences as well as the public at large.


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