Tiphaine Calmettes
ㅤThey Are Looking at Us
curated by
Giovanni Giacomo Paolin
Porto Levante - fraz. di Porto Viro (RO), Veneto
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Porto Levante is a strip of land stretching between fresh and salt water, surrounded by sea and lagoon, and it is often considered purely as a place of transition. Its small community endures and merges with hybrid inhabitants, linked to the village for its natural characteristics and activities such as fishing. The location’s relatively recent history has encouraged relations with those who have always lived there, giving rise to ideal and physical spaces in which to construct a series of small alternative narratives. A viewpoint positioned at ground level but directed towards the water becomes the ideal route for the amplification of these visions: lagoons and seas have always induced people who gaze at them to let their minds wander, generating new living beings, as fascinating as they are monstrous. The facility of being able to lose oneself in these fantasies is rendered unstable by a slight fear of the things that cannot be known and cannot be totally defined. The two works in the project They Are Looking at Us, devised by Tiphaine Calmettes in the form of seating units for Porto Levante are intended to encourage the power of imagination of all those who visit this area. They are placed at the heart of the village, as a tribute to the sea and its creatures, enabling both the residents and visitors to submerge themselves in a state of contemplation, gaining the ability to question the links between fiction and reality. Even the landscape around the village experiences an unusual duality, in which both the artificial nature of the hinterland, and the sea from which water is channelled to permit its continuing existence, are simultaneously present. It is in these spaces that Calmettes’ intervention takes shape, consisting of sculptures intended to become meeting places, uniting different dimensions of time and narrative, inspired by an imaginary mythology. The artist’s works result from the combination of various materials and techniques, a concept originating from the shape of a bench: an invitation to contemplate a third version of nature, this time fantastical, evoked by the Porto Levante area.

Artworks:

01. Tiphaine Calmettes, They Are Looking at Us, 2024. Benches, concrete, iron, oxides, variable dimensions.
Via delle Valli 3a

02. Tiphaine Calmettes, They Are Looking at Us, 2024. Benches, concrete, iron, oxides, variable dimensions.
Parco della ghiacciaia

The sea has always fueled the imagination in the creation of fantastic stories and mysterious creatures. On land, we enjoy the comfort of indulging in these mental games, and it is to foster this opportunity that the idea of benches as a meeting point between fiction and reality was conceived.

Tiphaine Calmettes (Ivry-sur-Seine, France, 1988) studied at the École Nationale Supérieure d'Art de Bourges and currently lives and works in Aix-en-Provence, France. Through sculptures and installations, the artist views the production process as a living organism directly connected with the spaces that host it and the beings that accompany it. Her interest also extends to how the production of objects and architecture is animated both by living species and their intrinsic energies, as well as by physical or psychic relationships with their surroundings. Collaborating with various artisans, including masons and alchemists, she uses non-formal, reversible, and ephemeral techniques that contribute to animating life forms through performative actions. Her recent exhibitions include: Faire fleurir le salon at Musée Henri Prades, Montpellier (FR, 2023) in collaboration with MO.CO; I’ve got a feeling. Les 5 sens dans l’art contemporain, Musées d’Angers, Angers (FR, 2023); Chaleur humaine at Triennale Art & Industrie, Dunkirk (FR, 2023); Soupe Primordiale at Bétonsalon - Centre d'Art et de Recherche, Paris (FR, 2022).

In every performative event, I involve a working group composed of people who eat, speak, and work together for the duration of a meeting open to the public. Via performances, sculptures, food, texts, and installations I create situations involving new exhibition rituals that challenge our way of looking and perceiving.

Porto Levante - fraz. di Porto Viro (RO)
Veneto

The village of Porto Levante is a small hamlet of Porto Viro, with 140 inhabitants, and it overlooks the picturesque Sacca Cavallari lagoon, separated from the sea by the famous like-named “scanno” (sandbank). Distinctive for its low, colourful houses typical of fishing villages, the village comprises a small, charming church dating back to the 18th century and a fine area of woodland, which includes an old icehouse that has recently been restored.
On the shore of the lagoon is the “Marina di Porto Levante” dock, a tourist harbour that provides a convenient stop for boats sailing towards the Adriatic and its hinterland. Opposite Porto Levante, the lagoon is bordered by the Scanno Cavallari, a sandbank of great naturalistic interest, with a beach free for use by visitors and devoid of man-made constructions.
The lido is hallmarked by the typical vegetation of areas set between the sea and the lagoon, and offers an ideal habitat for numerous species of birds, including black-winged stilts, grey herons, ducks and mallards, which nest among the reeds and tamarisks.
In the summer season, a ferry runs from Porto Levante to the sandbank beach, while from the fishing village you can reach the town centre by means of a route about 50 km-long, Via del Valli, which runs around the lagoon and instils a refreshing sense of peace.

Thanks to: All the Voxel team for their dialogue and cooperation demonstrated during the creation of the two artworks.