The work is almost invisible from the outside. A modest opening is all that can be detected in the Alpine mountain slope: a den, a large jar, a baking dome. It’s rather like a shelter, offering somewhere away from the elements and from the dangers of our time... “Ventre is the Italian word for stomach, abdomen, womb”, informs Andrea Salvetti, the artist and chef who built Ventre as a an ‘art-feeding’ experience, in Chaligne. “I was inspired by the close and profound relationship between man and nature in a place where people appreciate the generosity of the Earth and the proximity to its riches. Nowadays, we need to re-think our relationship with the planet, so I decided to create an intimate work in a quiet and secluded location where you can feel the warmth of the Earth in every way.” This site-specific piece is a part of its surroundings; it looks like a bulb trying to push through the ground. The building process followed an ancient ritual that falls somewhere between performance and land art. There is only one small opening in which to enter, and another even smaller one that looks up and away, towards the sky.

“This is the first Ventre piece, but the size of other Ventre projects can change depending on where they are built. I think of these works as hideaways, as refuges, as caves, animal dens, or even as a parts of some living entity. Places that you can sit inside like in an igloo, safe from the elements and out of danger, to feel a warm and comforting embrace. Ventre can also serve as a huge oven for preparing food.” When it’s heated up (using local wood), it gives back the heat much as a volcano does; it recalls the maternal aspect of Nature and invites the sharing of meals, a spontaneous and universal gesture. When Ventre pieces are baked, they’re buried under the same earth that surrounds them so that grass and other local plants can grow on them again. “Everybody can use Ventre; this is art that’s meant to be shared. It’s inclusive and democratic, and it will stay that way over time.”

Salvetti lives and works in Lucca province, Tuscany, in the Apuan Alps. Inside his sculpture and design studio, he mixes design, architecture, performance, and cookery. Over the last few years, he has produced a number of works in collaboration with art and design galleries in Italy and abroad, such as Albero, Apparita, Dilmos, Nilufar, and Moss. He took part in the 48th Biennale di Venezia and has also participated in Design Miami/ Basel; PAD, Paris; Artcurial; and Sotheby’s.