Tiphaine Calmettes – Opening 9 September 6.30, 9 septembre 2017 18:30-9 septembre 2017 22:00, Arnaud Deschin, galerie .


Opening on Saturday 9 September from 6.30 to 9 pm

From 14 September to 28 October 2017
Open from Thursday to Saturday from 2 to 7 pm, or by appointment

During « Les mains baladeuses » exhibition , a mysterious scene will undoubtedly take place, and be repeated several times: instead of strolling aimlessly about, their bodies free of all constraints, gazing at the walls and floor, visitors will meander through the « Arnaud Deschin, galerie », their hazy faces covered by plastic inhalers. At the beginning of the meals which Tiphaine Calmettes intends to organize, she would like the “onlookers” to turn into respirators, for the duration of a prologue. In his writings, Marcel Duchamp, whose statement: “I prefer living and breathing to working” is well known, described condensation, smells and exhalations. But never inhalations. It is nevertheless possible to imagine that the inhaler as object, with its sexual connotations and its mildly disconcerting character, would probably not have displeased the artist.

Imagining strolling round an exhibition and being less obsessed by what there is to see in it than by what there is to be felt in it here resembles a nasal dream; but Tiphaine Calmettes is not necessarily seeking the cancellation of one sense by the domination of another. On the contrary, all the senses should be called upon during this show, whose title nevertheless summons the sense of touch. One of the first « Les mains baladeuses » scattered throughout this presentation leads us precisely to this necessary sidestep: the gesture of the admonitory person does not display any exemplary narrative, but points to the gallery’s pockmarked wall. What we must take away from the exhibition is within reach of the eye, finger, ear, and nose, and even papillae, as long as you dwell on it a little. Wandering Hands is in fact organized in two tempos: that of the exhibition, strictly speaking, and that of the meals, including inhalers.

The meals, which are the starting point of the artist’s project, organized in collaboration with the chef Virginie Galland, inherit a vast tradition of art from the latter half of the 20th century, headed by Daniel Spoerri. But the Pantagruelesque and merrily decadent character of some of “chef Daniel’s” meals are well removed from Tiphaine Calmettes’ samplings during which you don’t exactly stuff yourself: the above-mentioned inhalation of Artemisia tends to introduce a question about wild urban plants used in different dishes—dandelion mousse, smoked roots, lichen fritters, lobular gazpacho, chartreuse in walnut shells and other eminently poetic names. Cooked during Parisian explorations, these plants call more for a sort of sacred ritual during which the inhalation turns the palatal appetizer into a nasal appetizer. Will we keep- the preliminary Artemisia in our nose during the meal? Or, otherwise put: could it be that, without having had the impression of touching, we have nevertheless managed to breathe a work of art in its entirety?

For those who will not be able to partake of these meals, the exhibition is organized like a reminder of those possible gustatory experiments, and also offers its share of epidermic sensations: if taste is no longer summoned, the sense of smell is tickled by the imposing company of a still producing all day long a regular gargling noise, a sign of the current production of a natural floral water. The table use for the meals is presented separately on its trestles, and develops a foam where it is impossible to discern if it is the desolate mildew of an abandoned ruin or, conversely, a renewal seething with young shoots keen to spread. Maybe both at once, because Tiphaine Calmettes is fond of cultivating ambiguity. She is probably situated in the tradition of elders who have also managed to transform mould, and make it a subject of melancholic study, though nevertheless oriented towards forms of renewal: as such, she tends to be situated with the brightly coloured bacterial cultures of someone like H.A. Schult, or the pseudo-scientific experiments of someone like Peter Hutchinson, rather than Dieter Roth’s decaying heaps. It comes as no surprise to discover, in her earlier work, various proliferating figures like wood-eating fungi, which she hatches out by way of photographs, or a coral whose reproduction she has cast based on an engraving. Humidity, and thereby a potential source of existence, i9ntrigued her for « Les mains baladeuses », the same way as drought: the above-mentioned fungi and corals have rubbed shoulders with cacti, pebbles and earth. What is more, the hyper-tufa she uses for her structures is nothing if not an ambivalent material, in particular mixing supposedly sterile cement with fertile peat. As in urban wasteland plots where plants associated with ruins reclaim their rights, the table which Tiphaine Calmettes displays either vertically or horizontally is in a state of ongoing development, becoming covered with mosses and lichens depending on the day and the watering. The to-and-fro interplays she carries out between the natural and the artificial are carried on in « Les mains baladeuses », in the wake of older works where she slightly manipulated objects in such a way as to make the reading of them biased and arduous: thus we find a globular cactus whose thorns she had painstakingly glued together to form a not very spontaneous geodesic dome, or a rough stone carved so that its shadow forms a perfect tip.

For this show, the artist proposes an area of reflection, in which criss-crossing urban wasteland plots and gathering their edible and medicinal plants are first and foremost micro-political gestures. Wandering hands are those hands capable of pricking, scratching, squeezing, scraping and offering, but also clenching their fist. But here again, the gesture we imagine to be vindictive or even bellicose contains within the fingers seeds which want only to be taken out of their dormancy. Tiphaine Calmettes is not an activist, or even a farmer: her clay fists, devised from the nendo dango of Masanobu Fukuoka, designed to be thrown into fields to let nature work on them, are exhibited in a state of latency. Fukuako made the principle of non-action the basis of his agricultural theory in the 1970s, a principle which Marcel Duchamp would undoubtedly have appreciated. Tiphaine Calmettes, for her part, leaves the way open for speculation: it is quite obvious that if you let imagination have enough rest, it will germinate.

Camille Paulhan