Viafarini is pleased to announce French artist Stéphanie Nava’s solo show Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) that will open on Monday, November the 3rd, at Viafarini DOCVA, in the Fabbrica del Vapore.
The garden, or better, the allotment: modest, functional, it is a composite and heterogeneous microcosm despite set boundaries defined by the surrounding context. A laboratory of coexistence between different species freely heading up or down, towards the height or the profound. Whilst some plants contemptuously grow towards the sky, others will interweave their modest destinies with the shady but nevertheless luxuriant vitality of the undergrowth. There, amidst the constant underground activity, roots are entwined, crawling for invisible adventures.
The garden is also the ultimate object of the gardener-designer’s efforts; he nurses it but also fashions it, keeping its development under controlled planning, aiming at harmony and calibrated crop.
In a garden, spontaneous energies of the vegetal world manifest themselves with a propensity for contamination. Its inhabitants coexist with guests or intruders, from insects to infesting weeds, cohabiting in hospitality or complementarity or facing parasitism and dependence.
It is a place where rules face collisions, where invasive species may take over part of a territory. Whilst some species are protected, others will be defeated, and if some stand out, others will grow discretely. In the garden, besides luxuriant buds may also grow inadequate, unnerving fruits of uneasiness.
Stéphanie Nava's garden, like any garden, developed slowly to become a vast environmental installation of drawings, a meticulous work in progress, the result of years of work. Slowness is one of its essential components. First, as a preliminary cognitive instrument, mimicking biological time, natural growth, but also as a way to relate the formative processes in nature with that of thoughts.
Making this piece has taken the artist a few years of conceptual elaboration and manual work. This extended period of time enabled different themes and fields of research to emerge: spontaneous phenomena against control and how instruments and laws are conceived to regulate the garden and to impose a balance (though precarious); unexpectedly growing strange fruits; how some species are prone to colonization; the never-ending tendency to integrate new upcoming species; strategies of resistance and dispositions of defence; stratification; biodiversity; inner and external menaces…
A garden then, not in the slightest idyllic, but presented in its own domestic normality and generous profusion. It is a place where things appear, grow and die, where dry leafs will be substituted by buds. But it is also a place for experimentation, a battleground, a theatre where radical transformations take place, where recurring events will always resolve in a new manner. A territory full of mysterious plots, encounters and unconventional situations.
Stéphanie Nava's garden, part realistic, part visionary, as an organism, is a paradigm of the complexity of our contemporary world.
"The dual sense of "plot" as a piece of ground or a conspiracy influenced my work from the outset. This installation is a garden, true, but it is also a battlefield and the scene of a host of conflicts involving plans of attack and strategies of resistance. (…)
The character of Considering a Plot was directly influenced by the mathematical, productivist rationale of the Dig for Victory* manuals I based my plan on. Designed as a machine for producing vegetable matter for strictly utilitarian purposes, this garden has, for me, a very industrial identity. Far from a return the Edenic notion so often conjured up by gardens, I wanted to talk about plots of land cultivated in a tough, "grey" context. This doesn't make them any less beautiful, but they're permeated by the surrounding violence, be it political, economic or conflictive."
*Dig for Victory was a campaign launched by the British Ministry of Agriculture in 1940 to help combat food shortage in Britain by promoting the planting of vegetables in gardens and on public land. Vast areas of public land, including the Royal Park Kensington Gardens, were converted into allotments and nearly a million tonnes of vegetables were grown in the peak years of production.
Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) is a project initiated by Stéphanie Nava in London in 2005 as part of the Cultures France Villa Médicis Hors les murs residency programme.This exhibition has been produced conjointly with the Centre d'art contemporain de la Ferme du Buisson in Noisiel, France, where it has been exhibited in June—July 2008 and the Centre d'art Passerelle in Brest, France where it will be exhibited in January—April 2009.
A book documenting this project has been published by La Ferme du Buisson, Passerelle and the ADERA in June 2009.