Here’s a special sneak peek of one of the beautiful contents you can find in our magazine Polpettas On Paper #ONE.
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I guess that, what has always really interested me, is how certain situations can take place in certain spaces.”

Things happen for a reason, or maybe, as in Stéphanie Nava’s opinion, things happen for a specific space. There’s much more to discover about this French artist, better delve deeper into her world.  


To me, your whole work seems to be dealing with three specific words and concepts: relationships, spaces and figures. What’s the relationship between your spaces and your figures?

I’ve always been interested in architecture: cities, buildings, rooms… When I was a child I wanted to be an architect and, before going to art school, I considered working as a scenic designer for theatre. I guess that, what has always really interested me, is how certain situations can take place in certain spaces. To put it in other words, how the organization of a space can allow -or provoke- certain things to happen.


I like stories and stories need to be situated, that’s the role of a theatre set: providing dramatic writing a frame. I have always been interested also in language, in the way humans use verbal, as well as non-verbal language. The non-verbal communication exists through gestures, postures, and has to be located. It is the shape and the organization of this locus what I’m trying to show in my works.

Stephanie Nava_désirs,entreprises,un-panorama

Considering a Plot (Dig for Victory) —your biggest installation so far— is a summary of all that concerns your work. How did you get to that project?

That’s quite a long-term project that started more or less ten years ago. To make a long story short, I went to London in 2004 with a bursary to work on a project about allotments (workers’ gardens), planning to get one myself. I started to devise how I would organize the garden, doing a lot of research mainly about botany and the history of allotments. That is when I encountered archives about the Dig for Victory Program set by the British Ministry of Agriculture during WWII: it exhorted citizens to grow vegetables wherever they could, as an act of resistance, to fight food shortage. That shifted the whole project in various aspects, visually -the program produced a very strong iconography-, conceptually and in its content.

It was going to be a garden “at war”, considering gardening as a form of resistance. It also soon became clear that I didn’t need the real land, but that I could grow the garden out of paper, drawing it entirely, following one of the slogans of the Dig for Victory Program: “Grow Your Own!”.


I began then with the long process of making it, drawing all the small and big details, and I’m still on it, adding new parts every time I show it.

It is now an installation that comprises a few hundred drawings and diverse objects and that covers over 400m2. To me, what is extremely interesting about this project is that it encompasses so many different topics: botany, history, geopolitics, urbanism… As well as questions of representation. stephanie-nava_interview1

It is very rich and there is always something new to add to it. Sometimes I get a bit worried about not being able to stop it!

To be continued…


Translations in Spanish and Italian available on the paper magazine Polpettas On Paper #ONE.

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[Images © Stéphanie Nava, ADAGP, courtesy Galleria Riccardo Crespi, Milan. Stéphanie Nava portrait by Cartacarbone.]