Ce dont le calcaire se souvient, un murmure l’oublie 
Curated by Ekaterina Scherbakova
Centre d’Art Plastiques de Saint-Fons
Saint-Fons, France
December 15, 2020 to February 6, 2021


Salome Talvaz is a fictional visionary, active in the beginning of the 20th century. Her origins are unclear, but some sources prove that she was raised in San Francisco. No concrete witness of her practice is left, though her influence on the philosophical circles of her times is considered to be underestimated. She settled in Saint-Fons for a decade in the 1910s. The biographers suppose that she might have been a part of a society of wandering rocks followers who believed that glacial erratics, as now discovered transported by glaciers, were the signs of a place's uniqueness. Thus, Talvaz followed the path of the wandering stone of Saint-Fons. The peculiarity of this persona is a vow of silence she practiced. This rupture with language is seen as a method to lose nothing. The heritage of her silence and the muted archive she left behind is suggested to be a starting point for participating artists’ interventions.

-  Ekaterina Scherbakova


Embracing Scherbakova’s Talvaz as a catalyst to unravel a speculative and seemingly forgotten epistolary exchange, a series of letters between two women in the spring of 1913 were unearthed to reveal a conversation of nascent desires with elemental correlation. The collection of letters between Salome Talvaz and Alice Pénisson, native of Saints Fons and the only woman to transcribe a historical account of the city, served as the sole modality of communication of Talvaz during her vow of silence in the 1910s. The four letters are characterized by earth, water, fire, and air; each letter encapsulating a metaphorical resemblance.


Their letters, left embedded in the peripheral matter of the glacial erratic of Saint Fons, located at 45° 42′ 06″ N 4° 51′ 19″ E, were exhibited amidst an amalgam of materials collected from the site, with specimens of soil and moss encompassing the letters. The glacial erratic, a large limestone mass of Savoy origin deposited in a commune outside of Lyon, served as a fulcrum for their brief yet poignant exchange. Erratics, transported through the tributaries of melting glacial ice, arrive in contexts with which they bear no resemblance, echoing their etymological origins, errare (to wander).  Harboring whispered and ambulatory sentiments, the geological anomaly procured the muted archives of the two women, residing in silence since 1913.



THE GLACIAL ERRATIC, A LARGE LIMESTONE MASS OF SAVOY ORIGIN DEPOSITED IN A COMMUNE OUTSIDE OF LYON, SERVED AS A FULCRUM FOR THEIR BRIEF YET POIGNANT EXCHANGE.