Charvet honed her eye through her work as a travel photographer, which has brought her to most of the world’s continents. Though she now takes an artistic approach to her medium, Charvet’s roots in reportage and documentation are apparent in her pictures. So is her distinct attention to framing. Skilled photographers like Charvet know how to work within—and push up against—the rectangular limits of the camera, offering alternative ways of looking at views that we might otherwise take for granted. With her angular, off-kilter photographs of the shoreline, Charvet does just that.
In all of her coastal shots, Charvet emphasizes the contrast between the ordered spaces of beachside leisure and the expanse of an ultimately untameable sea. There is an almost militaristic precision to the bright red lounge chairs and umbrellas arrayed in neat rows on the black sands in Spiaggia Grande in Positano, Italy (2014), for example. They appear to be in formation, ready to march into the emerald waters directly ahead. Only a few people occupy this otherwise eerily empty setting. Such an absence of beach revelers serves to emphasize the divide between the beach, shaped to be at our service, and the indifferent and wild sea.
In Amalfi Rocks (2014), the contrast between nature and culture is even starker. Here an outcropping of bleached rocks, similarly set with lounge chairs and umbrellas, may be seen in the photograph’s lower right-hand corner. The rest of the composition is filled with sun-dappled water. While the appeal of this scene is undeniable, it is touched with menace. The sea dominates. It seems to edge the dry land out of the frame, reminding us that no matter how comfortably we arrange our beachside spaces, they are always at the mercy of the sea.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory