Raffaella Spagna & Andrea Caretto : Back without Warning

From Chemical Valley to the Port of Valence, an art experience on a par with the landscape

In the wake of the first presentation, at the CAP in Saint-Fons, of the residency output of artists Raffaella Spagna & Andrea Caretto, art3 is now welcoming the final stage of the project begun in autumn 2010. A number of encounters have added to their interpretation of the highly varied landscape between Saint-Fons and Valence, and the artists have used samples taken directly from the Rhône to create these visual forms reflecting its many-sided character.

This project sees them making contact with the river and using their presence on its territory to set up a relationship both physical and conceptual. The resultant ephemeral works are part of a dynamic whose emphasis would seem to be on the testing out and transmission of knowledge via a representational field (landscape) and its formal rendering (sculpture, images, performance).

Driven by the urge to « bring the river back » into the city that has been cut off from it, the artists have created for art3 a journey intruded on by a near-imperceptible series of actions. Moving from the Rhone to the art3 exhibition space in Valence’s Old Town, they have set out to provide a symbolic remedy for the radical break between the city and its river by building a fountain whose water comes from the Rhone: a dynamic sculpture that will bring a breath of fresh air to the venue with its flowing movement and its sound. Usually situated in the centre of town squares, fountains have played a social and political role, notably in the taming of water. For the artists, « bringing back » the Rhône in the exhibition means blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors, between the domestication of water and its « natural » state. They have already tackled this duality in a number of earlier works.

A second segment has them reversing their approach by posting some of the many images collected during their residency on the walls of the city. This « open air show » will be presented several times in the course of the exhibition, with the images suddenly popping up as people turn a corner or walk down the street. Modified and fragmentary, they offer information about the city’s history, past and present. Just as the river sometimes overflows its banks, these discreet black and white posters will slip into the city as part of a poetic gesture of transformation and regeneration.

The artists have repeatedly stressed that our relationship with the river has so far been determined by the spirit of industrial conquest that has shaped the Rhône and its setting. This relationship can now be seen as allied to observation of mute « invisible forms » through which can be glimpsed a memory, a recollection waiting to be reactivated.

Taduction John Tittensor

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