Le désir de regarder loin

Le désir de regarder loin (the desire to look further) is a community art project  and an interdisciplinary research based of the desires of the Northern neighbourhoods in Marseille… [ read more ]


Le désir de regarder loin (il desiderio di guardare lontano) è un progetto collettivo e un laboratorio artistico interdisciplinare nato da una raccolta di desideri dei quartieri nord di Marsiglia.


Le désir de regarder loin est projet collectif et un laboratoire artistique interdisciplinaire  né  des désirs  des quartiers nord de Marseille.

«The word «desire» means navigating “without stars”, 

it defines an absence and the need for a new way of finding direction.

Before heading in a new direction – wherever that may be –

one must slow down, open their eyes and try to look further,

try to look for new common horizons»

In 2018, while the Gare Franche, artist residence, and the Merlan theater were finding a common path to create LE ZEF – Scène Nationale de Marseille, the director Francesca Poloniato-Maugein,  invited Ilaria Turba to become a member of the band of associated artists. She was given carte blanche to imagine a three year-project within the “au fil de l’autre” project. The artist decided to live at the ZEF Gare Franche artist residence and to install her atelier in La Cabane. During her long residencies she wrote and realized an interdisciplinary community project designed for the territories.


Le désir de regarder loin stemmed from the discovery and exploration of the 14th and 15th arrondissement in the North of Marseilles. These landscapes are a chaotic and violent stratification of Cité –huge high-rise agglomerates – emptied of all beauty, old country homes, working and abandoned industries, streets and viaducts, with a beautiful thriving and wild Mediterranean nature growing and reclaiming spaces discarded by man.   

In the background the omnipresent sea, timeless theatre of arrivals and departures for different communities first from Europe’s poorest lands and then from Maghreb, Comoros and Cambodia. This cultural mix and the richness of experiences and stories were for the artist a fertile land in which to develop a project.   

These neighbourhoods are among the city’s most disadvantaged, not well connected and facing elementary emergencies of poverty and violence. Here the presence of drug trafficking controls and drains many public spaces. The youth growing up in this context need to double their efforts to break free from stereotypes and adverse labels. In front of this complexity, Ilaria Turba contrived a project with a strong theme and simple, concrete, easily accessible actions built with a strong a collective and participatory dimension. 


The theme emerged spontaneously from the encounter with northern Marseilles.

To desire means finding one’s orientation without stars, losing reference points and opening up to the possibility of finding new ones. The feeling of desire allows us, with its force and urgency, to overcome unfavourable conditions.

Linking desire to the concept of looking further defines the sentiment of seeking new horizons, projected in time – future or past- or the inspection of a different present.

For the artist this sentiment speaks of a collective tension towards change in a moment of global crisis that strikes the individual and the capability of finding different, daily directions. The theme is open to the free interpretation of all project participants.  


The project developed through an interdisciplinary art lab which evolves starting from people’s desires., The artist gathers these desires them as one would pick up objects and transforms them into art works making the immaterial desires tangible, perceptible and visible. These become photographs, drawings, objects and texts to be displayed during the various project outputs.

As in her previous project JEST, Ilaria Turba chose to start an open dialogue with an archive bringing the traces of the past alive through artistic practice. The artist for Le désir de regarder loin, explored the MUCEM Conservation and Resources centre searching for objects or rituals from past Mediterranean communities. These explorations inspired and nourished two project pathways: the workshop Bread of desires and the event Lottery of Desires.

Le désir de regarder loin is a project on the move that takes shape in progress along with the project’s appointments and actions. 

Written along the way, with a physical and symbolic link between the ZEF Merlan theater and la Gare Franche. Ilaria Turba in the first two years of the project worked on writing a Traversée des désirs (Desire crossing), a 12 km trek that connects the two locations and ZEF and that will be the most important output from the collection of desires. 

The project also developed organically adapting to the context. This period of health crisis added a new depth to the theme. From the experience of sharing and solidarity under confinement and the strong need to meet came the idea for a collective creation of a series of good luck charms. Produced by the residents, they will be returned to the public during the Lottery of Desires, event selected in  the Nomadic Biennial Manifesta 13 Marseille –Parallèles du Sud.




A project by: Ilaria Turba
Artistic collaboration: Ettore Tripodi
Production: LE ZEF scène nationale de Marseille 

With the support of Commissariat Général Délégué à l’Egalite des Territoires e della Regione SUD Provence-Alpes-Côte- D’azur, and the  support of I-Portunus,  EU funds mobility for artists.

In collaboration with:  Mucem and CCR-Mucem (Centre de conservation et de ressources), Bureau des guides GR2013; Micamera.
The lottery of desire is an event of Manifesta 13 Marsiglia – Parallèles du Sud.