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Whole New Worlds

The Spiral Dance of the Cyborg and the Goddess

“During the spiral dance, each participant at a given moment is facing each other, and meets her gaze. It seems that here the cyborg and the Goddess have indeed exchanged a look, that a connection has taken place, the manifestation of which is, and can only be, a certain joy.” *

There may have been joyful connections between Goddesses and cyborgs before Donna Haraway wrote her Cyborg manifesto. Notably in the pages of The Witch and the Chameleon, the first feminist science-fiction fanzine created in 1974 by Amanda Bankier, which will be followed by many others, starting with Janus and Aurora. To dive into these archives is to be moved to see the work of people who shared our dreams and aspirations some fifty years ago!

On my side, I was overjoyed to meet ÎȘan Larue, who wrote LibĂšre-toi cyborg ! my bedtime book since I read it a year ago. We did an interview that will be at the heart of this new cycle of publications on Expo156. We’ll come back to the novels mentioned in the Cyborg manifesto, but not only. We will also talk about dinosaur goddesses, all flower, hope


It will also be about hope in the new visual selection on Instagram. Composed with the contribution of ÎȘan Larue, it will be a stroll along along a polychrome earth, strewn with regenerating organisms. This stroll will continue by going to meet some great initiatives related to queer and feminist SF!

(Version française)

“Lors de la danse spirale, chaque participant/e Ă  un moment donnĂ© fait face Ă  chaque autre, et croise son regard. Il semble qu’ici la cyborg et la DĂ©esse aient en effet Ă©changĂ© un regard, qu’une connexion ait eu lieu, dont la manifestation est, et ne peut ĂȘtre que, une certaine joie.” *

Des rencontres joyeuses entre DĂ©esses et cyborgs il y en a peut-ĂȘtre eu avant l’écriture du Manifeste cyborg de Donna Haraway. Notamment dans les pages de The Witch and the Chameleon, premier fanzine de science-fiction fĂ©ministe crĂ©e en 1974 par Amanda Bankier, qui sera suivi de bien d’autres, Ă  commencer par Janus et Aurora. Plonger dans ces archives, c’est ĂȘtre Ă©mue de voir des travaux de personnes qui partageaient nos rĂȘves et nos aspirations il y a dĂ©jĂ  une cinquantaine d’annĂ©es !

De mon cĂŽtĂ©, j’ai Ă©tĂ© infiniment heureuse de rencontrer ÎȘan Larue, qui a Ă©crit LibĂšre-toi Cyborg !, mon livre de chevet depuis que je l’ai lu il y a un an. Nous avons rĂ©alisĂ© une interview qui sera au cƓur de ce nouveau cycle de publications sur Expo156. Nous reviendrons sur les romans citĂ©s dans le Manifeste cyborg, mais pas seulement. On parlera aussi de DĂ©esses dinosaures, de murailles de fleurs, d’espoir


Et d’espoir il en sera aussi question dans la nouvelle sĂ©lection visuelle sur Instagram. ComposĂ©e avec la contribution de ÎȘan Larue, elle prendra la forme d’une balade le long d’une terre polychrome, jonchĂ©e d’organismes en rĂ©gĂ©nĂ©rations. Cette balade se poursuivra en allant Ă  la rencontre de quelques chouettes initiatives relatives Ă  la SF queer et fĂ©ministe !

Charline Kirch

*Isabelle Stengers in “Crafting hope at the edge of the abyss” // *Isabelle Stengers dans “Fabriquer de l’espoir au bord du gouffre”

Feature image credits // CrĂ©dits image de couverture : Lee Bul, “Cravings”, 1989. Performance, Jang Heung, Korea.

I would like to thank ÎȘan for her help, her availability, and all that she taught me. Also this work would not have been possible without Élise Deubel and Garance Henry, so it is dedicated to them! // Je remercie ÎȘan pour son aide, sa disponibilitĂ© et tout ce qu’elle m’a appris. Aussi ce travail n’aurait pas vu le jour sans Élise Deubel et Garance Henry, il leur est dĂ©diĂ© !

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To preserve my editorial independence, I am not funded by grants or paid partnerships. To support my work, join me on Patreon! đŸ€ // Pour prĂ©server mon indĂ©pendance Ă©ditoriale je ne suis ni financĂ©e par des subventions, ni par des partenariats rĂ©munĂ©rĂ©s. Pour soutenir mon travail, rendez-vous sur Patreon ! đŸ€



Interview

Victor Clavelly – Emancipated Golems

Victor Clavelly‘s works subvert the notions of materiality and immateriality, particularly through their “faux-semblants” prints. They dress gynoids and trolls, giving shape to a sharp visual and narrative world that hosts both Rachel the baby dragon and the puppet Pierrot, offspring in revolt against their creator, living and emancipated golems.

You are a designer and 3D artist, graduated from DuperrĂ© school in 2020, you are the creator of four clothing collections. How do you define your work? And what is your point of view on its evolution over the last few years?

I work on artificial bodies, I like to create chimeras from head to toe, telling stories through silhouettes. Fashion is a huge field of experimentation in which I have a lot of fun, it’s like a language to tell what I want. With each new collection I manage to express myself better through silhouettes, to develop characters that make sense (for me at least), a story, a LORE that encompasses my whole production and that over time becomes a rich universe in which I can come and pick up elements to develop new things.

One of the first things that struck me when I looked at some of your creations was the elongation of the silhouettes by their legs, sometimes with the help of prostheses. How do you think about the silhouette in your work?

When I draw a silhouette I try to caricature its forms, to lengthen it, to sharpen it, to make it puny, or powerful, I pass especially by the cut and the prosthesis, there are so many processes that one can apply to deform bodies, it’s an infinite ground of experimentation, and one can really go very far, it’s one of the principal challenges in my work.

There is also a material ambiguity in your pieces. This is something that I imagine has a lot to do with your working process? Can you tell us about it?

The second important point in my work is the “faux-semblant” through print, to imitate materials, to amplify shapes, it allows to create pieces that work very well in images, that are easy to sew, and that really take another dimension when they are assembled with very worked sewing pieces. These are the two product lines that I develop the most. For my next collection, “Le Jugement du Pontif”, I’m trying to make sewing pieces with these processes of “faux-semblants”, but ennobled, it’s even more work but these are exceptional pieces.

In “Le Jugement du Pontif”, the editorial dedicated to your fourth collection published in Temple Magazine, or in “Save Room”, you associate your clothing creations with particular spaces, landscapes and virtual constructions. How is the articulation between the two? In the same way, how does the fashion editorial allow you to integrate clothing into a narrative?

When I was in primary school with my best friend, we used to play a lot of role playing games, we were constantly drawing and telling each other about the adventures of our avatars in a universe that we created from scratch, we drew all the races that populated these lands, the cities, the buildings, the means of transportation, we had a currency, each zone had its own economy, its political situation. We loved to destroy everything by starting wars, natural or supernatural catastrophes, like gods or devils. The narrative in my creative process is extremely important, it feeds the universe of what I tell, it allows me to develop each character, from their faces to their clothes. I originally wanted to develop video games, and I must admit that I would love to get back to it. 

I chose to do a Master’s degree in Fashion Image Media Editorial at DuperrĂ© to focus on what had around the clothing, the body and put it all in images, and my practice of 3D could really open a door to build this. 

Your work is partly inspired by video games, there is perhaps also the cinema with the make-up, the prostheses which can have a kinship with the world of special effects. You also regularly refer to characters from the imagination, such as the creature of Frankenstein or Pinocchio. What are your influences, the works that were important in the development of your universe?

It’s funny that you talk about Frankenstein and Pinocchio, they are references that speak to me a lot, the relationship between the creature and the creator, the offspring, the border between the creator father and the demiurge, as well as the questioning and the emancipation of these beings. These issues that these works raise have been foundational in my work. I also think of Bellmer, ” Ghost in the shell ” by Mamoru Oshii, the myth of Pygmalion, ” AI ” by Steven Spielberg, ” Le avventure di Pinocchio ” by Luigi Comencini.

On Expo156 is currently published “Embryo Fashion”, a visual selection developed by Garance Henry and myself. On your side, you speak of digital golem, to define some of your creations, golem which means embryo in Hebrew. You also worked on this subject in your thesis, can you tell us about it?

My master’s thesis is called “Portrait en pied d’un corps Artificiel”, in which I try to trace the relationship to the body that I adopt in my work, and I qualify the creatures that I sculpt in 3D as golem because they are as if invoked, born without birth, as if their illegitimacy to exist made them monstrous, like Frankenstein. Moreover, when one reads Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, published in 1818, one must bear in mind that the writer had lost a seven-month-old baby three years earlier.

Rachel, by Victor Clavelly

It seems to me that in the creatures taking shape in your work, there is a form of overcoming the dualisms between human-animal-machine, of reality and fiction. In his book “LibĂšre-toi Cyborg”, Ian Larue describes Donna Haraway’s Cyborg as a “new golem ready to save her people”. Do you identify with Cyborg thinking?

Personally, I have more fun identifying myself with the demiurge than with the creature, I like playing Saruman the White, summoner of armies. On the other hand, the ontological problematic is at the heart of my work and it is by being even more accurate in the shapes of my clothes, in the expression of the faces that I sculpt, that my digital golems really emancipate themselves, and that they come alive.

I would love to make a movie for a future collection, where all the models rebel against me and dismember me alive.

VERSION FRANCAISE

Les crĂ©ations de Victor Clavelly vont, notamment par leurs impressions en faux-semblants, subvertir les notions de matĂ©rialitĂ© et d’immatĂ©rialitĂ©. Elles habillent gynoĂŻdes et trolls, donnent corps Ă  un monde visuel et narratif acĂ©rĂ© qui accueille aussi bien Rachel le bĂ©bĂ© dragon que la marionnette Pierrot, des progĂ©nitures en rĂ©volte contre leur crĂ©ateur, des golems vivants et Ă©mancipĂ©s.

Tu es designer et artiste 3D, diplĂŽmĂ© de l’école DuperrĂ© en 2020, tu es l’auteur de quatre collections de vĂȘtements. Comment est-ce que tu dĂ©finis ton Ć“uvre? Et comment est-ce que tu perçois l’évolution de celle-ci au cours de ces derniĂšres annĂ©es?

Je travaille sur les corps artificiels, j’aime crĂ©er des chimĂšres de la tĂȘte aux pieds, raconter des histoires Ă  travers les silhouettes. La mode est un terrain d’expĂ©rimentation immense dans lequel je m’amuse beaucoup, c’est comme un langage pour raconter ce que je veux. A chaque nouvelle collection j’arrive Ă  mieux m’exprimer par les silhouettes, Ă  dĂ©velopper des personnages, qui ont du sens (pour moi du moins) une histoire, un LORE qui englobe l’ensemble de ma production et qui au fil du temps devient un univers riche dans lequel je peux venir piocher des Ă©lĂ©ments pour dĂ©velopper des nouvelles choses. 

L’une des premiĂšres choses qui m’a frappĂ© en regardant certaines de tes crĂ©ations, c’est l’allongement des silhouettes par leur jambes que tu vas Ă©tendre, parfois Ă  l’aide de prothĂšses. Comment est-ce que tu penses la silhouette dans ton travail?

Quand je dessine une silhouette j’essaie de caricaturer ses formes, pour l’allonger, l’aiguiser, la rendre chĂ©tive, ou puissante, je passe surtout par la coupe et la prothĂšse, il y a tant de procĂ©dĂ©s que l’on peut appliquer pour dĂ©former des corps, c’est un terrain d’expĂ©rimentation infini, et on peut vraiment aller trĂšs loin, c’est l’un des principaux dĂ©fis dans mon travail.

Il y a aussi une ambiguĂŻtĂ© matĂ©rielle dans tes piĂšces. C’est quelque-chose qui j’imagine Ă  beaucoup Ă  voir avec ton processus de travail? Est-ce que tu peux nous en parler?

Le deuxiĂšme gros point dans mon travail est le faux-semblant par le print, pour imiter des matiĂšres, amplifier des formes, ça permet de crĂ©er des piĂšces qui fonctionnent trĂšs bien en images, qui sont facile Ă  coudre, et qui prennent vraiment une autre dimension quand elles sont assemblĂ©es avec des piĂšces couture trĂšs travaillĂ©es. C’est les deux gammes de produits que je dĂ©veloppe le plus. Pour ma prochaine collection, « Le jugement du Pontif » j’essaie de rĂ©aliser des piĂšces couture avec ces procĂ©dĂ©s de faux-semblants, mais ennoblis, c’est encore plus de travail mais ce sont des piĂšces exceptionnelles.

Dans « Le jugement du Pontif Â», l’édito consacrĂ© Ă  ta quatriĂšme collection paru dans Temple Magazine, ou encore dans « Save Room Â», tu associes tes crĂ©ations vestimentaires Ă  des espaces particuliers, des paysages et des constructions virtuelles. Comment se fait l’articulation entre les deux? De la mĂȘme maniĂšre, comment l’édito de mode te permet-il d’inscrire le vĂȘtement dans une narration?

Quand j’étais en primaire avec mon meilleur ami on faisait beaucoup de jeux de rĂŽle, on dessinais constamment et se racontait les pĂ©ripĂ©ties de nos avatars dans un univers que l’on crĂ©ait de toutes piĂšces, on dessinait toutes les races qui peuplaient ces terres, les villes, les immeubles, les moyens de transport, on avait une monnaie, chaque zone avait sa propre Ă©conomie, sa situation politique. On adorait tout dĂ©truire en dĂ©clenchant des guerres, des catastrophes naturelles ou surnaturelles, tels des dieux ou des diables. La narration dans mon processus crĂ©atif est extrĂȘmement importante, elle nourrit l’univers de ce que je raconte, elle me permet de dĂ©velopper chaque personnage, de leurs visages Ă  leurs tenues. À la base je voulais dĂ©velopper des jeux vidĂ©o, et j’avoue que ça me plairait beaucoup d’y revenir. 

J’ai choisi de faire un Master Image de mode Media Éditorial Ă  DuperrĂ© pour me focaliser sur ce qui avait autour du vĂȘtement, du corps et mettre en image le tout, et ma pratique de la 3D a vraiment pu ouvrir une porte pour construire cela. 

Ton travail est en partie inspirĂ© par le jeu vidĂ©o, il y a peut-ĂȘtre aussi le cinĂ©ma avec le maquillage, les prothĂšses qui peuvent avoir une parentĂ© avec le monde des effets spĂ©ciaux. De mĂȘme tu te rĂ©fĂšres rĂ©guliĂšrement Ă  des personnages issus de l’imaginaire, comme par exemple la crĂ©ature de Frankenstein ou Pinocchio. Quelles sont tes influences, les Ɠuvres qui ont comptĂ© dans le dĂ©veloppement de ton univers?

C’est drĂŽle que tu parles de Frankenstein et Pinocchio, c’est des rĂ©fĂ©rences qui me parlent beaucoup, le rapport entre la crĂ©ature et le crĂ©ateur, la progĂ©niture, la frontiĂšre entre le pĂšre crĂ©ateur et le dĂ©miurge, ainsi que la remise en question et l’émancipation de ces ĂȘtres. Ces problĂ©matiques que ces Ɠuvres soulĂšvent ont Ă©tĂ© fondatrices dans mon travail. Je pense aussi Ă  Bellmer, « Ghost in the shell Â» de Mamoru Oshii, le mythe de Pygmalion, « AI Â» de Steven Spielberg, « Le avventure di Pinocchio Â» de Luigi Comencini.

Sur Expo156 est publiĂ© en ce moment « Embryo Fashion Â», une sĂ©lection visuelle dĂ©veloppĂ©e par Garance Henry et moi-mĂȘme. De ton cĂŽtĂ©, tu parles de golem numĂ©rique, pour dĂ©finir certaines de tes crĂ©ations, golem qui veut dire embryon en hĂ©breu. Tu as aussi notamment travaillĂ© sur ce sujet dans ton mĂ©moire de fin d’études, est-ce que tu peux nous en parler?

Mon mĂ©moire de master s’appelle «Portrait en pied d’un corps Artificiel», dedans j’essaie de retracer le rapport au corps que j’adopte dans mon travail, et j’y qualifie les crĂ©atures que je sculpte en 3D de golem car elles sont comme invoquĂ©es, nĂ©es sans natalitĂ©, comme si leur illĂ©gitimitĂ© d’exister les rendaient monstrueuses, Ă  la maniĂšre de Frankenstein. D’ailleurs lorsque l’on lit Frankenstein de Mary Shelley paru en 1818 il faut avoir en tĂȘte que l’écrivaine a perdu un bĂ©bĂ© de sept mois trois ans auparavant.

Il me semble y avoir dans les crĂ©atures qui prennent forme dans ton travail, une forme de dĂ©passements des dualismes entre humain-animal-machine, de la rĂ©alitĂ© et de la fiction. Dans son ouvrage « LibĂšre-toi Cyborg Â», Ian Larue dĂ©crit la Cyborg de Donna Haraway comme une « nouvelle golem prĂȘte Ă  sauver son peuple Â». Est-ce que tu te reconnais dans la pensĂ©e Cyborg?

Personnellement je m’amuse plus a m’identifier au dĂ©miurge plutĂŽt qu’à la crĂ©ature, j’aime trop jouer Ă  Saroumane le blanc, invocateur d’armĂ©e. En revanche la problĂ©matique ontologique est au cƓur de mon travail et c’est en Ă©tant encore plus juste dans les formes de mes vĂȘtements, dans l’expression des visages que je sculpte, que mes golems numĂ©riques s’émancipent vraiment, et qu’ils prennent vie.

J’aimerais trop faire un film pour une collection future, oĂč tous les modĂšles se rebellent contre moi et me dĂ©membrent vivant.

Interview by Charline Kirch // Propos recueillis par Charline Kirch

A big thank you to Victor Clavelly for his answers and his availability // Un grand merci à Victor Clavelly pour ses réponses et sa disponibilité <3

Featured image credit : Rachel by Victor Clavelly // Image de couverture : Rachel par Victor Clavelly

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If you enjoyed this article, don’t hesitate to support Expo156 on Patreon! đŸ€ // Si cet article vous a plu, n’hĂ©sitez pas Ă  soutenir Expo156 sur Patreon! đŸ€

News

Expo21✹22

2021 has been for me the most intense and important year on Expo156 in terms of content production and professionalization of the platform.

This year started with the birth of the website, after several months of development and acquisition of skills in this area :’)

I had the chance to publish interviews with Valentin Ranger, Talking Shell, Floryan Varennes and HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy, but also to experiment with cross-interviews in the articles “Humanimality” and “Creatures of the Virtuals Realms”, which allow to connect different creators’ points of view. There were also two articles that mean a lot to me: “Something is Happening”, which featured the magical keys of Élise Deubel, Naia Combary and Marie LĂ©on, and “25 names of artistic movements you would like to see emerge in the coming years”, a very funny list thought up with you.

Finally there was the publication of “In My Distopic Garden”, the beautiful Spring-Summer 21 collection by Carla BorĂ©, and the Heavy Moon playlist with its cover designed by Lou Shafer, my first commission from an artist!

The website continues to improve over time with the recent creation of a calendar of events and exhibitions.

On Instagram, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Talking Shell and Floryan Varennes to create visual selections to accompany the publication of their interviews. And finally I am very proud to publish “Embryo Fashion”, a selection created by Garance Henry and I.

In 2022, your support will be essential for me to accomplish at least as much as the past year and to consider the continuation of the project beyond the next few months. Last December I opened a Patreon page where you can become a patron, in exchange for many rewards, such as stickers and T-shirts.

I also chose to introduce donations goals, to draw a path towards all the exciting projects I would like to achieve:

  • When I reach 50 euros per month I will be able to finance the maintenance costs of the website (hosting, plugins, etc.) GOAL ACHIEVED =D
  • When I reach 100 euros per month I will start to make photo reports in artists’ studios and art galleries
  • When I reach 200 euros per month I will start to commission original works from artists (drawing, photography, digital art, etc.)
  • When I reach 500 euros per month I will publish one article every month (interviews, photo reports, playlists, fashion editorials, original creations, off-formats)
  • When I reach 1000 euros per month I will publish two articles every month (interviews, photo reports, playlists, fashion editorials, original creations, off-formats)
  • When I reach 2000 euros per month I will publish one article every week (interviews, photo reports, playlists, fashion editorials, original creations, off-formats)


In the next few days I will publish an interview with Victor Clavelly. I’m also actively working on new forms of curation, I can’t wait to show you all this! ✹



Charline

2021 a Ă©tĂ© pour moi l’annĂ©e la plus intense et la plus importante sur expo156 en terme de production de contenu et de professionnalisation du projet.

C’est une annĂ©e qui a commencĂ© avec la naissance du site Internet, aprĂšs plusieurs mois de dĂ©veloppement et d’acquisition de compĂ©tences en la matiĂšre :’)

J’ai eu la chance d’y publier des interviews de Valentin Ranger, Talking Shell, Floryan Varennes et HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy, mais aussi d’expĂ©rimenter des formes d’interviews croisĂ©es avec « Humanimality Â» et « Creatures of the Virtuals Realms Â», qui permettent de rapprocher diffĂ©rents points de vues de crĂ©ateurs. Il y a eu deux articles qui comptent beaucoup pour moi : « Something is Happening Â» , qui a fait la part belle aux clĂ©s magiques d’Élise Deubel, Naia Combary et Marie LĂ©on, puis « 25 noms de mouvements artistiques que vous aimeriez voir Ă©merger dans les annĂ©es Ă  venir Â», une liste qui a Ă©tĂ© trĂšs chouette Ă  Ă©laborer avec vous.

Enfin il y a eu la publication de « In My Distopic Garden Â», la belle collection Printemps-Ă©tĂ© 21 de Carla BorĂ©, et de la playlist Heavy Moon pour laquelle Lou Shafer a rĂ©alisĂ© une pochette, et qui Ă©tait pour moi l’occasion de rĂ©aliser une premiĂšre commande auprĂšs d’une artiste!

Le site Internet continue de s’amĂ©liorer au fil du temps avec la crĂ©ation Ă  la fin de l’annĂ©e d’un agenda des Ă©vĂ©nements et des expositions.

Pour ce qui est d’Instagram, j’ai eu l’opportunitĂ© de collaborer avec Talking Shell et Floryan Varennes pour crĂ©er des sĂ©lections visuelles accompagnant la parution de leurs interviews. Et enfin je suis trĂšs fiĂšre de publier “Embryo Fashion”, une sĂ©lection crĂ©e par Garance Henry et moi.

En 2022, votre soutien va m’ĂȘtre indispensable pour arriver Ă  en faire au moins autant que l’annĂ©e Ă©coulĂ©e et envisager la poursuite de mon activitĂ© sur Expo156 au-delĂ  des prochains mois. J’ai ouvert en dĂ©cembre dernier une page Patreon sur laquelle vous pouvez vous abonner en Ă©change de nombreuses contreparties, comme par exemple des stickers et des T-shirts.

J’ai aussi choisi d’introduire des donations goals, afin de dessiner un chemin vers tous les chouettes projets que j’aimerais concrĂ©tiser :

  • A partir de 50 euros mensuels je pourrai financer les frais de maintenance du site Internet (HĂ©bergement, plugins, etc.) OBJECTIF ATTEINT =D
  • A partir de 100 euros mensuels je commencerai Ă  faire des reportages photo dans des ateliers d’artistes et des galeries d’art
  • A partir de 200 euros mensuels je commencerai Ă  passer des commandes d’Ɠuvres originales Ă  des artistes (dessin, photo, art numĂ©rique, etc.)
  • A partir de 500 euros mensuels je publierai un article tous les mois (Interviews, reportages photo, playlists, Ă©ditos mode, crĂ©ations originales, hors-formats) 
  • A partir de 1000 euros mensuels je publierai deux articles tous les mois (Interviews, reportages photo, playlists, Ă©ditos mode, crĂ©ations originales, hors-formats)
  • A partir de 2000 euros mensuels je publierai un article toutes les semaines (Interviews, reportages photo, playlists, Ă©ditos mode, crĂ©ations originales, hors-formats)

Dans les prochains jours je publierai une interview rĂ©alisĂ©e avec Victor Clavelly. Je travaille aussi activement Ă  de nouvelles formes de sĂ©lections d’Ɠuvres, de curation, j’ai hĂąte de vous montrer tout ça! ✹

Charline

Interview

HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy – Digital Species

The reading of ” Digital Species “, by HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy published by FP&CF, transported me in a universe with an imposing visual strength, which is embodied through a generous, multiple and imaginative design. Throughout the pages, between the leaves and the flowers, a fantastic garden takes place, inhabited by unknown, mysterious and hybrid species, in harmony with their environment. This first encounter with HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy’s work made me want to ask her a few questions about this book and her artistic production, which regularly takes shape within GERIKO, the collective she co-founded with Antoine Caecke, and which ranges from contemporary drawing to digital arts.

You are a visual artist and director, co-founder of the collective GERIKO with Antoine Caecke, can you introduce yourself in more detail?

I was born in Belgium and I met Antoine there, he is my other half 🙂

We have been working together for more than 10 years, we created Geriko and have realized under this name several films, digital installations and other projects.
We are so close that our mutual universes often merge, this was the case with the video “Anvil” released in 2016.
We also work separately, often for long periods of research and experimentation.
These experiments, we then reinject them into our common projects.

We situate our practice at the border of contemporary drawing and digital arts.

We particularly appreciate the digital tools because they allow us to concretize everything we imagine without limitation.
To assemble very diverse sources in a coherent way, and build a universe that expands little by little.
These are demanding tools, there are many technical constraints and work to master them, but the progressive improvement of computer performances have made them much more accessible.
It is now possible to create a whole movie or a video game with two people, which was very complicated a few years ago.
The immediacy of some recent software also allows us to work with the same instinct as when we put our ideas on paper.
These tools offer us a huge field of creativity, associations and new storytelling languages to explore.

In 2020, you released the book “Digital Species” published by FP&CF. In it, you make a very generous use of the potentialities of the medium, notably by using celluloids that offer a double reading to your drawings, adding a manga in the middle of the book, and using the risography process for printing.

How was this project born and how did you create it? In general, what do the techniques of printed images bring to your artistic practice?

Digital Species was made over several years.

The manga at the center of the book is the starting point.

The narrative approach of the manga has finally given way to a book of “visual poetry”, the large format allows you to wander through each image, like in a painting.

This series of illustrations represents the woman’s body in mutation, questions femininity by extrapolating the relationship of the woman to her body and the changes that it undergoes through the genetic and digital evolutions.

It is a poetic vision of the way in which the woman adapts to these changes.

The representation of women is central in my work. Practically all my projects evoke this subject.

Concerning the object, the printing technique, the choice of papers and celluloids, the format, the binding, it is Maxime Milanesi who took care of it and made these choices with the help of Arnaud Aubry.

This assembly required a lot of time and I was very moved when I received the finished book.

With GERIKO, you have directed animation videos, including music videos such as “Anvil” for Lorn. How do you go from drawing to video? And how does the link with the music work?

We are in a long-term work whose objective is to give life to our characters, to our ideas, and to extend our universe. And in this sense, the book, the drawing or the animation are very complementary.

However, the pre-production and the realization of a film require a lot of time, investment, and a particular patience.

It took us several months of research to find the idea, it was also the case to experiment with the tools adapted to the animation that we wanted to create, and to find a graphic rendering that comes as close as possible to our drawings.

The link with the music was thought of at the stage of creating the storyboard.

It was also a difficult step because we wanted to get the right balance between the narrative and the rhythm of the music.

Once the production of the film was underway, we received the precious help of two animator friends, Anthony Lejeune and Manddy Wyckens, who made the character animation.

For the rest, it was Antoine and I who did everything.

It took a year and a half, maybe two, to develop a film like this.

It’s encouraging to see that the film continues to make its way today and interests so many people.

We regularly receive very touching messages and comments that give us the energy to continue working on other films.

You also worked with Marine Serre on the Spring Summer 2019 collection, how was the collaboration?

It’s great to work with Marine Serre, she’s an impressive woman.

We met in Brussels, she gave me an appointment while she was there for a photo shoot.

We imagined together an illustration mapping the entire body.

It is a collaboration which was made in a very fluid and evident way, in the confidence.

Your work is often set in organic worlds, with dense and phantasmagorical vegetation, which hides as much as it reveals the characters who live there. To what extent do you consider that there can be a utopian dimension in these environments?

Paradoxically these organic and luxuriant landscapes that I put in image are often linked to a digital environment. And despite the fascination I have for digital tools, they evoke rather dystopian scenarios.

As our work progressed and our relationship with the tools we use evolved, we came up with the idea to create a dimension, which can be perceived as utopian, in which we could counterbalance all these worrying anticipations.

This world on which Antoine and I are working is still under construction. I would describe this garden as a digital refuge, an ecosystem in which evolve the creatures that we imagine.

Different chapters take place in this project and the book Digital Species is one of them.

In this Garden, a great number of as yet unknown species cohabit; women merging with the environment, chimeric insects, extraterrestrial plant specimens.
We observe cloudy, hazy digital memories.
It is a world in perpetual mutation.

What are your influences, the artists you like, your readings, your relationship with S-F and fiction?

I like the work of many contemporary illustrators. I regularly collaborate with some of these artists for collective editions. This year we participated in the book Torrent de Lagon Revue with about twenty other illustrators artists that I particularly admire. I have also done four-handed drawings with some of them. The way in which these meetings materialize into common projects inspires me a lot.

In parallel to drawing and digital art, I am very sensitive to jewelry and puppets.
I am also interested in photography, fashion design, architecture, cinema and music. To a certain extent, the digital arts allow me to bring together almost all these fields.

As for reading, I am currently immersed in some of my childhood tales: “The Little Prince” by Saint ExupĂ©ry, Andersen’s tales and others.

What are your current projects?

Several projects are crossing each other. With Geriko, we are making a new animated film that echoes an illustration book we are working on.

We are also very interested in developing an interactive experience, close to a video game, but it is still too early to determine if this project will see the light of day or not.

Version Française

La lecture de « Digital Species Â», d’HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy paru aux Ă©ditions FP&CF, m’a transportĂ© dans un univers d’une imposante force visuelle, qui s’incarne Ă  travers un graphisme gĂ©nĂ©reux, multiple et imaginatif. Au fil des pages s’y dĂ©ploie, entre les feuilles et les fleurs, un jardin fantastique habitĂ© par des espĂšces inconnues, mystĂ©rieuses et hybrides, en harmonie avec leur environnement. Cette premiĂšre rencontre avec le travail d’HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy m’a donnĂ© envie lui poser quelques questions Ă  propos de ce livre et l’ensemble de sa production artistique qui prends rĂ©guliĂšrement forme au sein de GERIKO le collectif qu’elle a co-fondĂ© avec Antoine Caecke, et qui va du dessin contemporain aux arts numĂ©riques.

Tu es artiste visuelle et réalisatrice, cofondatrice du collectif GERIKO avec Antoine Caecke, est-ce que tu peux te présenter plus en détail ?

Je suis nĂ©e en Belgique et j’y ai rencontrĂ© Antoine, il est ma moitiĂ© 🙂

Cela fait plus de 10 ans que nous travaillons ensemble, nous avons créé Geriko et avons réalisé sous ce nom plusieurs films, installations numériques et autres projets.

Nous sommes tellement proches que nos univers mutuels fusionnent souvent, ce fut le cas avec la vidéo « Anvil » sortie en 2016.

Nous travaillons aussi sĂ©parĂ©ment, souvent pour l’occasion de longues pĂ©riodes de recherche et d’expĂ©rimentation.

Ces expérimentations, nous les réinjectons ensuite dans nos projets communs.

Nous situons notre pratique à la frontiÚre du dessin contemporain et des arts numériques.

Nous apprĂ©cions particuliĂšrement les outils numĂ©riques car ils permettent de concrĂ©tiser tout ce qu’on imagine sans se limiter.

D’assembler des sources trĂšs diverses de maniĂšre cohĂ©rente, et de construire un univers qui s’Ă©tend petit Ă  petit.

Ce sont des outils exigeants, il y a beaucoup de contraintes techniques et de travail pour les maitriser, mais l’amĂ©lioration progressive des performances des ordinateurs les ont rendus beaucoup plus accessibles.

Il est maintenant envisageable de créer un film entier ou un jeu vidéo à deux, ce qui était trÚs compliqué il y a encore quelques années.

L’immĂ©diatetĂ© de certains logiciels rĂ©cents permet aussi de travailler avec le mĂȘme instinct que lorsque nous posons nos idĂ©es sur papier.

Ces outils nous offrent un champ Ă©norme de crĂ©ativitĂ©, d’associations et de nouveaux langages de narration Ă  explorer.

Tu as sorti en 2020 le livre « Digital Species » aux Ă©ditions FP&CF. Il y a dedans une utilisation trĂšs gĂ©nĂ©reuse des potentialitĂ©s du mĂ©dium, notamment par l’emploi de celluloĂŻds qui offrent une double lecture Ă  tes dessins, l’ajout d’un manga au milieu de l’édition, l’utilisation du procĂ©dĂ© de la risographie pour l’impression.

Comment est nĂ© ce projet et comment s’est passĂ© sa rĂ©alisation ? De maniĂšre gĂ©nĂ©rale, qu’est-ce que les techniques de l’image imprimĂ©e t’apportent dans ta pratique artistique ?

Digital Species s’est fait sur plusieurs annĂ©es.

Le manga qui est au centre du livre est le point de départ.

L’approche narrative du manga a finalement laissĂ© la place Ă  un livre de « poĂ©sie visuelle », le grand format permet de se balader dans chaque image, comme dans un tableau.

Cette sĂ©rie d’illustrations reprĂ©sente le corps de la femme en mutation, questionne la fĂ©minitĂ© par l’extrapolation du rapport de la femme Ă  son corps et des changements que celui-ci subit Ă  travers les Ă©volutions aussi bien gĂ©nĂ©tiques que numĂ©riques.

C’est une vision poĂ©tique de la maniĂšre dont la femme s’adapte Ă  ces changements.

La représentation de la femme est centrale dans mon travail. Pratiquement tous mes projets évoquent ce sujet.

Concernant l’objet, la technique d’impression, le choix des papiers et celluloĂŻds, du format, la reliure, c’est Maxime Milanesi qui s’en est occupĂ© et a fait ces choix avec l’aide d’Arnaud Aubry.

Cet assemblage a nĂ©cessitĂ© Ă©normĂ©ment de temps et j’ai Ă©tĂ© trĂšs Ă©mue Ă  la rĂ©ception du livre terminĂ©.

Avec GERIKO, vous avez rĂ©alisĂ© des vidĂ©os d’animation, notamment des clips musicaux comme par exemple « Anvil » pour Lorn. Comment passe-t-on du dessin Ă  la vidĂ©o ? Et comment s’opĂšre le lien avec la musique ?

Nous sommes dans un travail au long cours dont l’objectif est de donner vie Ă  nos personnages, Ă  nos idĂ©es, et d’Ă©tendre notre univers. Et dans ce sens, le livre, le dessin ou l’animation sont trĂšs complĂ©mentaires.

Pour autant la prĂ©-production et la rĂ©alisation d’un film demandent beaucoup de temps, d’investissement, et une patience particuliĂšre.

Trouver l’idĂ©e nous a demandĂ© plusieurs mois de recherches, ce fut Ă©galement le cas pour expĂ©rimenter avec les outils adaptĂ©s Ă  l’animation que nous voulions crĂ©er, et trouver un rendu graphique qui s’approche le plus possible de celui de nos dessins.

Le lien avec la musique a Ă©tĂ© pensĂ© Ă  l’Ă©tape du story-board.

C’Ă©tait une Ă©tape difficile aussi car nous souhaitions mettre en place le bon Ă©quilibre entre la narration et le rythme du morceau.

Une fois la production du film en route, nous avons reçu l’aide prĂ©cieuse de deux amis animateurs, Anthony Lejeune et Manddy Wyckens, qui se sont chargĂ©s de l’animation du personnage. Pour le reste, c’est Antoine et moi qui avons tout rĂ©alisĂ©.

Une annĂ©e et demie, peut ĂȘtre deux ont Ă©tĂ© nĂ©cessaire pour mettre en place un film comme celui-lĂ .

C’est encourageant de voir que le film continue de faire son chemin encore aujourd’hui et intĂ©resse autant de monde.

Nous recevons rĂ©guliĂšrement des messages et des commentaires trĂšs touchants qui nous insufflent l’Ă©nergie de continuer le travail sur d’autres films.

Vous avez aussi travaillĂ© avec Marine Serre sur la collection Printemps EtĂ© 2019, comment s’est dĂ©roulĂ©e la collaboration ?

C’est gĂ©nial de travailler avec Marine Serre, c’est une femme impressionnante.

Nous nous sommes rencontrĂ©es Ă  Bruxelles, elle m’a donnĂ© rendez-vous alors qu’elle y passait pour un shooting photo.

Nous avons imaginé ensemble une illustration mappant entiÚrement le corps.

C’est une collaboration qui s’est faite de maniĂšre trĂšs fluide et Ă©vidente, dans la confiance.

Ton travail se situe souvent dans des mondes organiques, Ă  la vĂ©gĂ©tation dense et fantasmagorique, qui cache autant que rĂ©vĂšle les personnages qui y vivent. A quel point est-ce que tu considĂšres qu’il peut y avoir une dimension utopique dans ces environnements ?

Paradoxalement ces paysages organiques et luxuriants que je mets en image sont souvent liĂ©s Ă  un environnement numĂ©rique. Et malgrĂ© la fascination que je nourrie pour les outils numĂ©riques, ils m’Ă©voquent des scĂ©narios plutĂŽt dystopiques.

Au fil de nos travaux et de l’Ă©volution de notre rapport Ă  ces outils que nous utilisons, nous est venue l’idĂ©e de crĂ©er une dimension, qui peut ĂȘtre perçue comme utopique, dans laquelle nous pourrions contrebalancer toutes ces anticipations inquiĂ©tantes.

Ce monde sur lequel nous travaillons Antoine et moi est encore en construction. Je décrirais ce jardin comme un refuge numérique, un écosystÚme dans lequel évoluent les créatures que nous imaginons.

DiffĂ©rents chapitres interviennent dans ce projet et le livre Digital Species constitue l’un d’entre eux.

Dans ce Jardin, cohabitent un grand nombre d’espĂšces encore inconnues ; des femmes fusionnant avec l’environnement, des insectes chimĂ©riques, des spĂ©cimens vĂ©gĂ©taux extra-terrestres.

On y observe des souvenirs numĂ©riques troubles, brumeux. C’est un monde en perpĂ©tuelle mutation.

Quelles sont tes influences, les artistes qui te plaisent, tes lectures, ton rapport Ă  la S-F et la fiction ?

J’aime le travail de beaucoup de dessinateurs contemporains. Je collabore rĂ©guliĂšrement avec certains de ces artistes pour des Ă©ditions collectives. Cette annĂ©e nous avons participĂ© au livre Torrent de Lagon Revue avec une vingtaine d’autres dessinateurs contemporains que j’admire tout particuliĂšrement. Il m’est Ă©galement arrivĂ© de rĂ©aliser des dessins Ă  4 mains avec certains d’entre eux. La maniĂšre dont ces rencontres se concrĂ©tisent en projets communs m’inspire beaucoup.

En parallĂšle du dessin et de l’art numĂ©rique, je suis trĂšs sensible Ă  la Joaillerie et aux marionnettes. Je m’intĂ©resse aussi Ă  la photo, au stylisme, Ă  l’architecture, au cinĂ©ma et Ă  la musique. Dans une certaine mesure, les arts numĂ©riques me permettent de rĂ©unir Ă  peu prĂšs tous ces domaines.

Quant Ă  la lecture, je me suis replongĂ©e en ce moment dans certains contes d’enfance : « Le Petit Prince » de Saint ExupĂ©ry, les contes d’Andersen et d’autres encore.

Quels sont tes projets actuels ?

Plusieurs projets se croisent. Avec Geriko, nous rĂ©alisons un nouveau film d’animation qui fait Ă©cho Ă  un livre d’illustration sur lequel nous travaillons.

Nous nous intĂ©ressons aussi de prĂšs Ă  l’Ă©laboration d’une expĂ©rience interactive, proche d’un jeu vidĂ©o, mais il est encore trop tĂŽt pour dĂ©terminer si ce projet verra le jour ou non.

Interview by Charline Kirch // Propos recueillis par Charline Kirch

A big thank you to HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy for her answers and the time she devoted to it. // Un grand merci Ă  HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy pour ses rĂ©ponses et le temps qu’elle y a consacrĂ©

Featured image credit : Digital Species by HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy // Image de couverture : Digital Species par HĂ©lĂšne Jeudy

Digital Species is available here // Digital Species est disponible Ă  la vente par ici.

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If you enjoyed this article, don’t hesitate to support Expo156 on Patreon! đŸ€ // Si cet article vous a plu, n’hĂ©sitez pas Ă  soutenir Expo156 sur Patreon! đŸ€

Playlist

Heavy Moon

Artwork by Lou Shafer for Expo156
1. Caro♡ – over u
2. Harold Budd / Elizabeth Fraser / Robin Guthrie / Simon Raymonde – Why Do You Love Me?
3. Solange – Dreams
4. Nino Rota – O Venezia, Venaga, Venusia
5. Mansfield.TYA – La Notte
6. Lush – Light From A Dead Star
7. Pauline Anna Strom – Gossamer Silk
8. Oklou – nightime
9. Caroline Polachek – The Gate (Extended Mix)
10. Delia Derbyshire – Falling (The Dreams)
11. Oneohtrix Point Never – Boring Angel
12. Jean-Jacques Perrey – Berceuse Pour Un BĂ©bĂ© Robot (Lullaby For A Baby Robot)
13. Lyra Pramuk – New Moon

🌝 End notes // Notes de fin de Playlist 🌚

The title of the playlist comes from an excerpt of “Dreaming the Dark” by Starhawk:
“It is very late, and I am very tired. Yet I know that I can lie down and sleep and rise up fresh in the morning, as the heavy moon will set and rise. That is our magic ; our power to return, as something always pushes up from underground that can feed us.”

If you liked this playlist I recommend you to go read the beautiful interview of Pauline Anna Strom by Caroline Polachek

I thank Lou Shafer for the gorgeous cover she designed for the occasion.

I thank Guilhem Vincent who introduced me to Lyra Pramuk‘s wonderful musical work a year ago.

Le titre de la playlist vient d’un extrait de “Dreaming the Dark” de Starhawk :
« Il est trĂšs tard et je suis fatiguĂ©e. Mais je sais que je peux m’étendre, dormir et me rĂ©veiller fraĂźche au matin, comme la lourde lune se couche et se lĂšve. C’est notre magie : notre pouvoir de faire retour, car quelque chose pousse toujours du dedans de la terre qui peut nous nourrir. Â»

Si vous avez aimĂ© cette playlist je vous recommande d’aller lire la belle interview de Pauline Anna Strom par Caroline Polachek

Je remercie Lou Shafer pour la magnifique pochette qu’elle a conçue pour l’occasion.

Je remercie Guilhem Vincent qui m’a fait dĂ©couvrir l’Ɠuvre merveilleuse de Lyra Pramuk il y a maintenant un an.

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If you enjoyed this playlist, don’t hesitate to support Expo156 on Patreon! đŸ€ // Si cette playlist vous a plu, n’hĂ©sitez pas Ă  soutenir Expo156 sur Patreon! đŸ€

Interview

Is it past, or is it future ? – Interview with Floryan Varennes –

Floryan Varennes is an artist whose work is positioned in a temporality between medievalism and science fiction. His visual universe, adorned with armor, medical equipment and plants, offers us other possibilities for thinking about bodies and ways of caring for them. On the occasion of “Violence Vitale”, his exhibition which is open all summer at the Maison des MĂ©tiers du Cuir in Graulhet, he gives an interview to Expo156. A chance to discover his work which, without any complex, appeals to multiple imaginaries.

Can you present us the path that led you to the work you have been producing for the last four years?

I have a double curriculum, like many other artists I had a DNSEP (master II in visual art) in 2014 with a specialization in sculpture. Then afterwards, I attended a lot of seminars in Paris in several universities to perfect my historical knowledge on several specific topics related to bodies in art. In 2018, after 4 years of conceptual wanderings, I decided to start all over again, or at least to be more radical in my practice and research, so I started a new Master’s degree, this time in Medieval History at Paris-Nanterre. In June 2020 I graduated on a well known tutelary figure: Joan of Arc. I chose to study this heroine and more precisely her representations in paintings from the XIXth to the XXIst century because it echoed my practice as a visual artist on the body outside the norms and more precisely on medieval pageantry (panoply, emblems, armor, weapons, etc.). This investigation on the image of Joan of Arc in the visual arts from the 19th to the 21st century, allowed me to analyze a set of two-dimensional works that depicted her life, her physiognomy in transition and her equipment, while questioning the gender representations of the young heroine. It was a long, very long and dense work in terms of historical and artistic research.I had to track down the smallest painted images of Joan of Arc in France, Europe and beyond.

At the same time, during the last three years, my investigations have been focused on my relationship to the equipped body – Human enhancement – through curative universes in the era of techno-enchantment (augmented bodies, prosthetic science, curative technology, attention to vulnerability etc.). I had to navigate between my historical research, my practice and my investigations of the rather complex medical universe. To talk about the work, I have very defined phases, stages of intense research on my favorite themes and others of practice in residence. I have the particularity, for the moment, of only producing while I am in artistic residency, which allows me to be frenetic/abundant in my production and placid/concentrated in my research phase.

What are the words you use to present your work, how do you define it?

On the one hand I would say sculpture, installation, bas-reliefs, three-dimensionality and volume for the medium used. On the other hand, my work speaks of the body, of bodies in a general acceptance, without ever showing it or figuring it directly. By a metonymic* system I always try to represent it by elements that compose it, its pageantry, its equipment and its emblems linked to its parade, and more and more devices that mix the whole with powerful olfactory ambiences. Then, medieval history and its echoes up to our days compose a core of continuous research in my practice, always linked to readings, conferences, investigations, documentaries, films, series that are reflected in my practice… Finally, a few words about my interest in the speculative future that opens up to us, and more precisely in the sphere of care in a broad understanding. It is a question of reflecting on care, protection, repair, transformation and healing, inseparable from their “twin” states generally linked to persecution or scattered violence. In this way, I ambivalently mix representations linked to violence with curative technologies.

*A metonymy is a figure of speech which, in the language or its use, uses a word to mean a distinct idea but which is associated to it.

Your current artistic activity is focused on Violence Vitale, a monographic exhibition at the Musée des Métiers du Cuir of the city of Graulhet, which follows a residency* that you did there in the spring of 2021. How do you situate the new pieces you will present there, and produced on this occasion, in relation to your work?

This immersive residency took place with companies located in the Tarn region of France (Comptoir Icart, Maison Philippe Serre and La Fabrique leather goods). I had the chance to work with professionals who were able to help me in my practice from A to Z. Thanks to the know-how linked to the leather professions as a whole, from the choice of skins to the leather goods, I was able to “surpass” myself. In this, my production became more excessive, more disproportionate, made of immersive atmospheres and quite sophisticated installations. I was also lucky enough to be able to exhibit in an imposing museum of more than 300 square meters, I was able to take risks in the hanging, in the scenographic course and the lighting. Moreover, the pieces produced are in the continuity of my career but take a radical tangent. I was able to renew my theoretical base by going towards a fractional questioning on temporality, I arrived at crossings that I always tried to touch. In connection with echoes of the medieval period but combined with an aesthetic and aspects of my work more futuristic, more cyber-fictional. In connection with echoes of the medieval period but combined with an aesthetic and aspects of my work more futuristic, more cyber-fictional. I was able to achieve this goal through my latest research on medical pods [medical devices to regenerate bodies]. With my Hildegarde installation, I was able to create links between medieval armors, futuristic hospital beds and thus join all investigations on the panacea. This universal remedy that would have the ability to cure any disease and protect the body from all aggressions. I was able to elaborate a new installation at the crossroads of these fields of research transposing the whole into sculptures/civiers quilted with white leather and coated with an antibacterial treatment. Arranged in a circle in one of the rooms of the exhibition, this piece is for me the translation of the title of my exhibition: Violence Vitale.

* within the framework of the device called “residence of artist in company” of the french ministry for the culture.  

There are pieces in this exhibition, such as “Sursum Corda” or “Hildegarde” that seem to emerge from the darkness in an environment that could be described as “raw”. How does this environment resonate with these pieces?

I like the play of light and elaborate spatial arrangements and these two installations lend themselves to this. On one side the iridescent diagonals of Sursum Corda and on the other the white satin blocks of Hildegarde seem to effectively emerge through the lighting. Even more, it is a play of reflections and materials that I put in place, the darkness allows for focus with the light rails, and a certain tension in the space. Moreover, this chiseled lighting creates an ambivalent atmosphere, on the one hand there is a feeling of confrontation because the pieces are frontal, and on the other there is an exalting atmosphere, because the sculptures are bathed in a zenithal light. The setting in space is also a game between the works and the public, going from a rather dark space to a light space creates a story. The light is also the narrative in an exhibition.

There is a hybridization of time expressed in your work, which is rooted in medievalism and science fiction. What role does temporality play in your work and where does this interest come from?

I am a child of the 90’s, I was fed very young with scattered references that shaped me, two trilogies were revealing of my artistic preoccupations : The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix, to this can be added several other references such as Evangelion or Record of Lodoss War, but also a lot of historical, scientific and academic readings that came to be added during my studies, and still now.

Thus my research articulates several temporalities, first of all the echoes of the Middle Ages that we find nowadays in several types of productions. This is what we call medievalism (or survival or medieval revival) and it corresponds to a set of artistic, political and cultural manifestations elaborated in a conscious will to recreate or imitate in whole or in part the Middle Ages. My goal is not to reproduce this era, but rather to perceive some analogies with our time and some polarities. This is how I present and use the Middle Ages as a radical otherness to our time. It works for my part as a heuristic modality, a comparative that allows us to perceive, under certain fixed categories, the denials, the compromises and the advances of our Western civilization. In addition to this, there are convergences and oppositions, which we also find in certain productions on speculative futures with science fiction, or at least science in general, with systems of repression or cures that emanate from it. As I said before, I am very interested in augmentations and body reinforcements as well as in different types of medicine. I then try to join – in aesthetics as well as in concepts – these two types of temporalities in my production.

This temporal anchorage, allows you to inscribe in imaginary sometimes born in other artistic spheres, and in their aesthetics. What is your relationship with aesthetics and beauty, how do you manage to make it a framework that structures your work, a weapon that produces meaning?

The relationships of beauty in art are complex, generally (independently of the geographical situations) this tension comes from the history of art and the schools of art which perpetuate certain schemes, and what is beautiful, what is pleasant to the eye because sometimes too seductive is rejected, prohibited or put aside. By escaping this time from the important philosophical traditions linked to Kant or Hegel on the beautiful, post-modernity maintains ambiguous links with what can be qualified as beautiful, and everything is shattered. In my case I fought – and I still fight – against this, because I quickly understood that my research on the substance was going to overflow on the form. It is necessary however to define what one calls the word beautiful, for my part I speak in the first place of dichotomous reports of seduction and aversion, the “beauty” of my work resides in its ambivalence, it is which occurs through my rather violent, aggressive or disturbing topics of research but that I treat with fragile, soft, ephemeral or life-saving materials… These materials have various qualities, they allow me to have several types of effects, transparency, reflections of lights, shine, and that from glass to iridescent leather, from pearls to rivets passing by high-tech fabrics like velvet or medical polymers, but also surgical steel, to dried plants which transpose more deleterious ideas of beauty. Finally, I often speak of extreme aestheticism, I try to push this notion to its maximum.

Who are the people (artists, authors, curators etc….), with whom you find an affinity in your approach?

I have several affinities and sources of research to feed my work, I have very abundant artistic references with which I maintain intimate links. On the one hand, with ancient artists who are linked to a period called International Gothic, I often take as an example the Limbourg Brothers, Simone Martini or later Enguerand Quarton, JĂȘrome Bosh, Albrecht Durer, Jan Van Eyck, but also John William Waterhouse and my absolute love for the Symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelites (Millais, Rosseti, Burnes-Jones…), who rightly are my aesthetic ground. For the more contemporary – among others – Louise Bourgeois, David Altmedj, Frederick Heyman, Stelarc, Lee bul, Franz Erad Walter, Jordan Wolfson, Elaine Cameron Weir, Ivana Basic, Anicka Yi, Hannah LĂ©vy, or Violet Chachki and Alexis Stone… I like some fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, Mugler, Robert Wun or Iris Van Herpen. And finally some anime, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Spirited Away, Vampire hunter D : Bloodlust, Grimgard or other video games like Halo, Fable or Elder Scroll.

On the theoretical side, I rely heavily on historical readings such as those of Jacques Legoff, Michel Pastoureau or Vincent FĂ©rrĂ©; philosophical or psychoanalytical readings with Paul PrĂ©ciado, Donna Haraway, Susan Sontag, Joan Tronto, Paul Ricoeur or even Carl Gustav Jung. I have deeper affinities with other fields of research and I do not limit myself to artistic spheres, I also draw my research from what represents and historically activates the body such as heraldry, medieval weaponry, military chivalry, armorial systems , but also what heals or increases it to be understood as an anthropotechny, such as biotechnological sciences (and bioethics), phytotherapy (nootropic), pharmacology & toxicology, biohacking, orthoprosthetic systems, exo-armors, robotic surgery…

There is a recurrent use of vegetation in your pieces, in particular lavender, but also thistles in “L’assemblĂ©e” or prunus thorns in “Gothic my Love”. Vegetation also plays a key role in the articulation of the themes that are dear to you, especially because of its role in the care of the bodies in the Middle Ages. Can you tell us about it?

Plants arrived quite late in my practice, and are indicative of a new branch of care that I am exploring. There is a twofold aspect to my work on the notion of care in its entirety, on the one hand because I use surgical instruments, medical tools, fabrics and high-tech polymers, but on the other hand because I also invisibly try to operate a real work and a certain logic of solicitude and vulnerability, and the role of care in a strong way in my work. The plants have a place of choice in my research, so they create social link but also temporal because they have a direct affinity with the Middle Ages, I use a lot of plants that have to do with this period (that we find in manuscripts, tapestries, coats of arms, but also medical codexes etc). The plants that I use have multiplied phytotherapeutic effects. I call them super-vegetables, I use them in my installations to mark time, space and the senses. Of course I am also interested in their olfactory properties and especially their incredible prophylactic properties.

For example, lavender, a plant that I use a lot with thistles or ivy, is a masterpiece in my work, and I always use it dried. Its therapeutic importance, purification and cleansing are two characteristics inscribed in the very name of lavender. Indeed, its Latin name – lavandula – comes from the Latin lavare, meaning simply to wash. In addition, my beloved Hildegard of Bingen explained that: “Lavender is hot and dry and its heat is healthy. If one cooks lavender in wine and drinks it often lukewarm, one soothes the pains of the liver and the lung, as well as the vapors of the chest. “. The lavender intervenes thus on a certain number of diseases. Its virtues are considerable, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic as well as analgesic, but also cardiotonic, anticoagulant, healing, and regulating the central nervous system: calming, sedative, anxiolytic, antidepressant, neurotropic, musculotropic… In short a cocktail to which we can add “aromatherapy” memories, we can not forget this scent so specific to the southern sun, that our grandparents also used to sanitize the household linen.

There is in your work the relation of the body to the medical world and more generally to the care, how do you consider that the notion of Pharmakon, particularly dear to the philosopher Bernard Stiegler, is part of your approach?

Yes, the bodies are not present but shown in a roundabout way, as I explained, never frontal, always made explicit by a battery of elements that increase or equip it with its finery, its armature and its parade (whether it is nuptial or military, or even a mixture of both). Moreover, I carry a more general reflection on the ambivalence of the affects, the feelings and the refusal of a binary division between pleasure and sorrow. This thought is concretized in my production of sculptures and duplicate devices, which mix the vocabulary of the war and the medical field to better reassess the distinction between wound and care. This is how the notion of pharmakon takes on its full meaning, as Bernard Stiegler explains: “the pharmakon is both poison and remedy, it is both what allows us to take care of and what we must take care of, in the sense that we must pay attention to it: it is a curative power in the measure and excess that it is a destructive power. This at once is what characterizes pharmacology, which tries to apprehend by the same gesture the danger and what saves. “. It is a process of attack and self-defense at the same time, contrary states and temporalities that I like to bring together in my work, and that I am now doing in a totally unconscious way: fragile but aggressive glass weapons, quilted stretchers as soft as they are hieratic, banners that cannot be easily identified, panoplies mixing medical objects that spread flesh while healing it, armored and translucent drones or a bed of lavender flowers that assaults the senses so much the smell is almost unbearable. The pharmakon is at the heart of my reflection, but declined in such a way that several types of antinomy (temporal, material, conceptual) act as a balance which one cannot know if they are destructive or saving.

Do you think there are aspects in your work that can resist any explanation and assume a part of darkness, of mysteries?

I wouldn’t speak of mystery, but of a discourse that escapes us, and that’s good. Not everything has to be explained, even if I tend to do so because I conceptualize my work (too much). But it seems to me that appreciating a work – in general – for its aesthetic, relational, contextual or formalist qualities is the least we can do. A work has also emotional qualities, we tend to forget it in the digital age, and of the fast culture, a work whatever its medium and its size it can make us vibrate – if a little bit we see it IRL. In short, if a work is ineffable it is already a good start, the rest will follow.

How do you see the future of your artistic production, what are your upcoming projects?

Concerning projects, I have just entered a gallery in Paris, I will see what the future holds for me, I have several group exhibitions coming up with residencies. The classic scheme we would say, but not only. I have also had in mind for a few months to create a fragrance, or at least an olfactory work, which could be sold as a perfume, based on lavandula angustifolia, incense, benzoin but also a rather cold, metallic, even repulsive smell. Finally, the idea of teaching is making its way, in an art school, or in other spheres that are close to me. And I wish to be more involved in the young French and European creation by helping young visual artists to understand the complexity but also the abundance of the contemporary artistic network.

For further information :

– Medievalism https://journals.openedition.org/itineraires/1782

– Pre-Raphaelitism https://histoire-image.org/fr/etudes/preraphaelisme-anglais-quete-absolu

– Queer approach https://journals.openedition.org/rechercheseducations/6611

– Augmented body https://www.cairn.info/revue-d-ethique-et-de-theologie-morale-2015-4-page-75.htm

– Science fiction https://journals.openedition.org/genrehistoire/405

– Care of the future https://journals.openedition.org/lectures/39389

Version Française

Floryan Varennes est un artiste dont l’Ɠuvre se situe dans une temporalitĂ© entre mĂ©diĂ©valisme et science-fiction. Son univers visuel, parĂ© d’armures, de matĂ©riel mĂ©dical et de vĂ©gĂ©taux, nous offre d’autres possibilitĂ©s pour penser les corps et les maniĂšres d’en prendre soin. À l’occasion de « Violence Vitale Â» son exposition qui se dĂ©roule durant tout l’étĂ© Ă  la Maison des MĂ©tiers du Cuir de Graulhet, il accorde une interview Ă  Expo156. Une chance pour dĂ©couvrir son travail qui convoque sans aucun complexe, des imaginaires multiples.

Est-ce que tu peux nous prĂ©senter le parcours qui t’a menĂ© jusqu’au travail que tu produis depuis maintenant quatre annĂ©es ? (diffĂ©rentes phases artistiques, cursus beaux-arts, et universitaire…)

J’ai un double cursus, comme beaucoup d’autres artistes j’ai eu un DNSEP (master II en art visuel) en 2014 avec une spĂ©cialisation en sculpture. Puis par la suite, j’ai suivi beaucoup de sĂ©minaires Ă  Paris dans plusieurs universitĂ©s pour parfaire mes connaissances historiques sur plusieurs sujets prĂ©cis liĂ©s aux corps dans l’art. En 2018, aprĂšs 4 annĂ©es d’errances conceptuelles, j’ai dĂ©cidĂ© de tout reprendre Ă  zĂ©ro, ou du moins d’ĂȘtre plus radical dans ma pratique et mes recherches, j’ai ainsi commencĂ© un nouveau Master, cette fois-ci en Histoire mĂ©diĂ©vale Ă  Paris-Nanterre. En juin 2020 j’ai eu mon diplĂŽme sur une figure tutĂ©laire bien connu : Jeanne d’Arc. J’ai choisi d’Ă©tudier cette HĂ©roĂŻne et plus prĂ©cisĂ©ment ses reprĂ©sentations en peintures du XIXe au XXIe siĂšcle car cela rentrait en Ă©cho avec ma pratique de plasticien sur le corps en dehors des normes et plus prĂ©cisĂ©ment sur l’apparat mĂ©diĂ©val (panoplie, emblĂšmes, armures, armes, etc). Cette enquĂȘte sur l’image de Jeanne d’Arc dans les Arts visuels du XIXe au XXI siĂšcle, m’a permis d’analyser un ensemble d’Ɠuvres bidimensionnelles qui ont figurĂ© sa vie, sa physionomie en transition et son Ă©quipement, tout en questionnant les reprĂ©sentations de genre de la jeune hĂ©roĂŻne. J’ai fais cette recherche transdisciplinaire historique, pour conjuguer mĂ©diĂ©valisme et histoire de l’art Ă  l’aune d’outils critiques liĂ©s aux Ă©tudes de genre, et ce dans une nouvelle perspective liĂ©e Ă  ses reprĂ©sentations. Ce fut un travail long, trĂšs long et dense en terme de recherches historiques et artistique. J’ai du traquer les moindre images peintes de Jeanne d’Arc en France, en Europe et plus encore.

ParallĂšlement durant ces trois derniĂšres annĂ©es, mes investigations se sont prĂ©cisĂ©es sur ma relations aux corps appareillĂ©s – Human enhancement au travers d’univers curatifs Ă  l’Ăšre du techno-enchantement (corps augmentĂ©s, science prothĂ©tiques, technologie curatives, attention Ă  la vulnĂ©rabilitĂ© etc). J’ai du naviguer entre mes recherches historiques, ma pratique et mes investigations sur l’univers mĂ©dical assez complexe. Pour parler du travail, j’ai des phases trĂšs dĂ©finies, des Ă©tapes de recherches intenses sur mes thĂšmes de prĂ©dilection et d’autres de pratique en rĂ©sidence. J’ai la particularitĂ©, pour le moment, de ne produire que pendant que je suis en rĂ©sidence artistique, cela me permets d’ĂȘtre frĂ©nĂ©tique/abondant dans ma production et placide/concentrĂ© dans ma phase de recherche.

Quels sont les mots que tu utilises pour prĂ©senter ton Ɠuvre, comment la dĂ©finis-tu ?

Alors, d’une part je dirais, sculpture, installation, bas-reliefs, tridimensionnalitĂ© et volume pour le medium utilisĂ©. D’autre part, mon travail parle du corps, des corps dans une acceptation gĂ©nĂ©rale, sans jamais le montrer ni le figurer directement. Par un systĂšme mĂ©tonymique* je m’attelle toujours Ă  le reprĂ©senter par des Ă©lĂ©ments qui le compose, son apparat, son appareillage et ses emblĂšmes liĂ©s Ă  sa parade, et de plus en plus de dispositifs qui mĂȘlent le tout avec de puissante ambiances olfactives. Ensuite, l’Histoire mĂ©diĂ©vale et ses Ă©chos jusqu’Ă  nos jours compose un noyau de recherche continu dans ma pratique, toujours liĂ©e Ă  des lectures, des confĂ©rences, des investigations, des documentaires, des films, des sĂ©ries qui transparaissent dans ma pratique… enfin quelques mots sur mon intĂ©rĂȘt sur des futur spĂ©culatifs qui s’ouvrent Ă  nous et plus prĂ©cisĂ©ment celle de la sphĂšre du soin dans une comprĂ©hension large. Il s’agit de rĂ©flĂ©chir au soin, Ă  la protection, Ă  la rĂ©paration, Ă  la transformation et Ă  la guĂ©rison, insĂ©parables de leurs Ă©tats gĂ©mellaires « jumeaux Â» gĂ©nĂ©ralement liĂ©s Ă  des persĂ©cutions ou des violences Ă©parses. Je mĂȘle pour ainsi dire ainsi de maniĂšre ambivalente des reprĂ©sentations liĂ©es Ă  la violence Ă  des technologies curatives.

*Une métonymie est une figure de style qui, dans la langue ou son usage, utilise un mot pour signifier une idée distincte mais qui lui est associée.

Ton actualitĂ© artistique est marquĂ©e par Violence Vitale, une exposition monographique au MusĂ©e des MĂ©tiers du Cuir de la ville de Graulhet, qui fait suite Ă  une rĂ©sidence* que tu y as effectuĂ© au printemps 2021. Comment est- ce que tu situes les nouvelles piĂšces que tu vas y prĂ©senter, et produites Ă  cette occasion, par rapport Ă  ton Ɠuvre ?

Cette rĂ©sidence immersive a eu lieu avec des entreprises du Tarn en France (le Comptoir Icart, la Maison Philippe Serre et la maroquinerie La Fabrique). J’ai eu la chance de travailler avec des professionnels qui ont pu m’aider dans ma pratique de A Ă  Z. GrĂące aux savoirs-faire liĂ©s aux mĂ©tiers du cuir dans leurs ensembles, des choix de peaux jusqu’Ă  la maroquinerie, j’ai ainsi pu me « surpasser Â». En cela, ma production est devenu plus excessive, plus dĂ©mesurĂ©e, faite d’ambiances immersives et d’installations assez sophistiquĂ©es. J’ai aussi eu la chance de pouvoir exposer dans un musĂ©e imposant sur plus de 300 mĂštres carrĂ©s, j’ai pu prendre des risques dans l’accrochage, dans le parcours scĂ©nographique et la mise en lumiĂšre. De plus, les piĂšces produites sont dans la continuitĂ© de mon parcours mais prennent une tangente radicale. J’ai pu renouveler mon socle thĂ©orique en allant vers un questionnement fractionnĂ© sur la temporalitĂ©, je suis arrivĂ© Ă  des croisements que j’ai toujours essayĂ© de toucher. En lien avec des Ă©chos de l’Ă©poque mĂ©diĂ©vale mais combinĂ©s avec une esthĂ©tique et des aspects de mon travail plus futuristes, plus cyber-fictionnel. J’ai pu y atteindre ce but grĂące Ă  mes derniĂšres recherches sur les mĂ©dicals pods [appareillages mĂ©dicaux destinĂ©s Ă  rĂ©gĂ©nĂ©rer les corps]. Avec mon installation Hildegarde, j’ai pu crĂ©er des liens entre des armures mĂ©diĂ©vales, des lits d’hospitalisations futuristes et joindre ainsi toutes investigations sur la panacĂ©e. Ce remĂšde universel qui aurait la facultĂ© de guĂ©rir n’importe quelle maladie et de protĂ©ger le corps de toutes agressions. J’ai pu Ă©laborer une nouvelle installation aux croisements de ces champs de recherches transposant alors le tout en sculptures/civiĂšres matelassĂ©es de cuir blanc et pelliculĂ©es d’un traitement antibactĂ©rien. DisposĂ©e en cercle dans une des salles de l’exposition, cette piĂšce est pour moi la traduction du titre de mon exposition : Violence Vitale.

*dans le cadre du dispositif appelĂ© « rĂ©sidence d’artiste en entreprise Â» du MinistĂšre de la Culture.  

Il y a dans cette exposition des piĂšces, comme « Sursum Corda Â» ou « Hildegarde Â» qui semblent Ă©merger de l’obscuritĂ© dans un environnement que l’on pourrait qualifier de « brut Â» . Comment cet environnement entre en rĂ©sonance avec ces piĂšces ?

J’aime les jeux de lumiĂšre, et les mises en espace Ă©laborĂ©es et ces deux installations s’y prĂȘtent. D’un cotĂ© des diagonales iridescentes de Sursum Corda et de l’autre des blocs blancs satinĂ© de Hildegarde semble effectivement Ă©merger par la mise en lumiĂšre. Plus encore, c’est un jeu de reflets et de matiĂšres que je mets en place, l’obscuritĂ© permet des focus avec les rails de lumiĂšres, et une certaine tension dans l’espace. De surcroĂźt, cette mise en lumiĂšre ciselĂ© crĂ©e une atmosphĂšre ambivalente, d’un cotĂ© il y a une sensation de confrontation car les piĂšces sont frontales, et de l’autre il y a une ambiance exaltante, car les sculptures sont baignĂ©es d’une lumiĂšre zĂ©nithale. La mise en espace, c’est aussi un jeu entre les Ɠuvres et le public, passer d’un espace plutĂŽt sombre Ă  un espace clair crĂ©e une histoire. La lumiĂšre c’est aussi de la narration dans une exposition.

Il y a une hybridation des temps qui s’exprime dans ton Ɠuvre, qui trouve un ancrage dans le mĂ©diĂ©valisme et la science-fiction. Quel rĂŽle joue la temporalitĂ© dans ton travail et oĂč cet intĂ©rĂȘt trouve-il son origine ?

Je suis un enfant des annĂ©es 90, j’ai Ă©tĂ© abreuvĂ© trĂšs jeune de rĂ©fĂ©rences Ă©parses qui m’ont façonnĂ©, deux trilogies ont Ă©tĂ© rĂ©vĂ©latrices de mes prĂ©occupations artistiques Le seigneurs des anneaux et Matrix, Ă  cela s’ajoute plusieurs autres rĂ©fĂ©rences comme Evangelion ou Les Chroniques de la guerre de Lodoss mais aussi beaucoup de lecture historiques, scientifiques et universitaires qui sont venues s’ajouter pendant mes Ă©tudes, et maintenant encore. Ainsi mes recherches articulent plusieurs temporalitĂ©s, en premier lieu les Ă©chos du Moyen Âge que l’on retrouve de nos jours dans plusieurs types de productions. C’est ce que l’on nomme mĂ©diĂ©valisme, (ou survival ou medieval revival) et c’est ce qui correspond Ă  un ensemble de manifestations artistiques, politiques et culturelles Ă©laborĂ©es dans une volontĂ© consciente de recrĂ©er ou d’imiter en tout ou partie le Moyen Âge. Mon but n’est pas de reproduire cette Ă©poque, mais plutĂŽt de percevoir certaines analogies avec notre temps et certaines polaritĂ©s.C’est ainsi que je prĂ©sente et j’utilise le Moyen Âge comme une altĂ©ritĂ© radicale Ă  notre temps. Il fonctionne pour ma part comme une modalitĂ© heuristique, un comparatif qui nous permet de percevoir, sous certaines catĂ©gories figĂ©es, les dĂ©nis, les compromis et les avancĂ©es de notre civilisation occidentale. A cela s’ajoute des rapprochements et des oppositions, nous les retrouvons aussi dans certaines productions sur les futurs spĂ©culatifs avec la science-fiction, ou du moins la science tout court, avec des systĂšmes de rĂ©pressions ou de guĂ©risons qui en Ă©manent. Comme je l’ai distillĂ© prĂ©cĂ©demment je m’intĂ©resse beaucoup aux augmentations et aux renforcements corporels ainsi qu’Ă  diffĂ©rents types de mĂ©decines. J’essaye alors de joindre – aussi bien dans l’esthĂ©tique que dans les concepts – ces deux types de temporalitĂ©s dans ma production.

Cet ancrage temporel, te permet de s’inscrire dans des imaginaires parfois nĂ©s dans d’autres sphĂšres artistiques, et dans leurs esthĂ©tiques. Quel est ton rapport avec l’esthĂ©tique et le Beau, comment tu parviens Ă  en faire une armature qui structure ton Ɠuvre, une arme qui produit du sens ?

Les rapports de beautĂ©s dans l’art sont complexes, gĂ©nĂ©ralement (indĂ©pendamment des situations gĂ©ographiques) cette tension provient de l’histoire de l’art et des Ă©coles d’art qui perpĂ©tuent certains schĂ©mas, et ce qui est beau, ce qui agrĂ©able Ă  l’Ɠil car parfois trop sĂ©duisant est rejetĂ©, interdit ou mis de cĂŽtĂ©. En Ă©chappant cette fois-ci aux grandes traditions philosophiques liĂ©es Ă  Kant ou Hegel sur le beau, la post-modernitĂ© entretient des liens ambiguĂ«s avec ce qui peut ĂȘtre qualifiĂ© de beau, et tout vole en Ă©clat. Dans mon cas je me suis battu – et je me bat encore – contre cela, car j’ai vite compris que mes recherches sur le fond allaient dĂ©border sur la forme. Il faut pourtant dĂ©finir ce qu’on appelle le mot beau, pour ma part je parle en premier lieu de rapports dichotomiques de sĂ©duction et d’aversion, la « beautĂ© Â» de mon travail rĂ©side dans son ambivalence, c’est qui se passe au travers de mes thĂšmes de recherches plutĂŽt violents, agressifs ou bien dĂ©rangeants mais que je traite avec des matĂ©riaux fragiles, doux, Ă©phĂ©mĂšres ou salvateurs… Ces matĂ©riaux ont diverses qualitĂ©s, il me permettent d’avoir plusieurs types d’effets, de la transparence, des reflets de lumiĂšres, des brillances, et cela du verre au cuir iridescent, des perles aux rivets en passant par des tissus high-tech comme des velours ou polymĂšres mĂ©dicaux, mais aussi de l’acier chirurgical, jusqu’au vĂ©gĂ©taux sĂ©chĂ©s qui transposent des idĂ©es plus dĂ©lĂ©tĂšres de la beautĂ©. Pour finir, je parle souvent d’extrĂȘme esthĂ©tisme, j’essaye de pousser au maximum cette notion Ă  son paroxysme.

Quelles sont les personnes (artistes, auteurices, curateurices etc….), avec qui tu te trouves une affinitĂ© dans ta dĂ©marche ?

J’ai plusieurs affinitĂ©s et sources de recherches pour alimenter mon travail, j’ai des rĂ©fĂ©rences artistiques trĂšs abondantes avec lesquelles j’entretiens des liens intimes. D’une part avec des artistes anciens qui sont liĂ©s Ă  une pĂ©riode que l’on nomme le Gothique International, je prends souvent comme exemple les FrĂšres de Limbourg, Simone Martini ou bien par la suite Enguerand Quarton, JĂȘrome Bosh, Albrecht Durer, Jan Van Eyck, mais aussi John William Waterhouse et mon amour absolu pour les symbolistes et les prĂ©raphaĂ©lites (Millais, Rosseti, Burnes-Jones…), qui Ă  juste titre, sont mon terreau esthĂ©tique. Pour les plus contemporain.e.s – entre autres – Louise Bourgeois, David Altmedj, Frederick Heyman, Stelarc, Lee bul, Franz Erad Walter, Jordan Wolfson, Elaine Cameron Weir, Ivana Basic, Anicka Yi, Hannah LĂ©vy, ou bien Violet Chachki et Alexis Stone… J’aime quelques crĂ©ateurs de mode comme Alexander McQueen, Mugler, Robert Wun ou bien Iris Van Herpen. Et enfin quelques animĂ©s, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Le voyage de Chihiro, Vampire hunter D : Bloodlust, Grimgard ou d’autres jeux vidĂ©o comme Halo, Fable ou les Elder Scroll.


Niveau thĂ©orie je m’appuie beaucoup sur de lectures historiques comme celles de Jacques Legoff, Michel Pastoureau ou Vincent FĂ©rrĂ© ; Philosophique ou psychanalytique avec Paul PrĂ©ciado, Donna Haraway, Susan Sontag, Joan Tronto, Paul Ricoeur ou encore Carl Gustav Jung. J’ai des affinitĂ©s plus profondes avec d’autres champs de recherches et je ne me limite pas Ă  des sphĂšres artistiques, je puise aussi mes recherches dans ce qui reprĂ©sente et actionne historiquement le corps comme l’hĂ©raldique, l’armement mĂ©diĂ©val, la chevalerie militaire, les systĂšmes armoriaux , mais aussi ce qui le soigne ou l’augmente Ă  comprendre comme une anthropotechnie, tel que les sciences biotechnologiques (et la bioĂ©thique), la phytothĂ©rapie (nootrope), la pharmacologie & toxicologie, le biohacking, les systĂšmes orthoprothĂ©tiques, les exo-armures, la chirurgie robotique…

Il y a une utilisation rĂ©currente du vĂ©gĂ©tal dans tes piĂšces, et en particulier de la lavande, mais aussiles chardons dans « L’assemblĂ©e Â» ou les Ă©pines de prunus dans « Gothic my Love Â». La vĂ©gĂ©tation qui joue aussi un rĂŽle clĂ© dans l’articulation des thĂ©matiques qui te sont chĂšres notamment de par son rĂŽle dans le soin des corps au Moyen-Age.  Est-ce que tu peux nous en dire quelques mots ?

Les vĂ©gĂ©taux sont arrivĂ©s assez tardivement dans ma pratique, et sont rĂ©vĂ©lateurs d’une nouvelle branche du care (prendre soin) que j’explore. Il y a une bicĂ©phalitĂ© dans mon travail sur la notion de soin dans sa globalitĂ©, d’une part parce que j’utilise des instruments chirurgicaux, des outils, tissus et polymĂšres high tech mĂ©dicaux, mais d’autres parce que j’essaye aussi de maniĂšre invisible d’opĂ©rer un vĂ©ritable travail et une certaine logique de la sollicitude et de la vulnĂ©rabilitĂ©, et du rĂŽle du soin de maniĂšre forte dans mon travail. Les vĂ©gĂ©taux ont une place de choix dans mes recherches, ainsi il crĂ©ent du lien social mais aussi temporel car ils ont une affinitĂ© directe avec le Moyen Âge, j’utilise beaucoup de plantes qui ont trait Ă  cette pĂ©riode (que l’on retrouve dans les manuscrits, tapisseries, armoiries, mais aussi codex mĂ©dicaux etc). Les vĂ©gĂ©taux que j’utilise ont des effets phytothĂ©rapeutiques dĂ©multipliĂ©s. Je les appelle les super-vĂ©gĂ©taux, je les utilise dans mes installations pour marquer le temps, l’espace et les sens. Bien sĂ»r je m’intĂ©resse aussi Ă  leur olfactivitĂ© et surtout leurs propriĂ©tĂ©s prophylactiques incroyables.

Par exemple la lavande, une plante que j’emploie beaucoup avec les chardons ou le lierre est une piĂšce maĂźtresse dans mon parcours, et je l’utilise tout le temps sĂ©chĂ©e. Son importance thĂ©rapeutique, purification et assainissement sont deux caractĂ©ristiques inscrites dans le nom mĂȘme de la lavande. En effet, son nom latin – lavandula â€“ est issu du latin lavare, signifiant tout simplement laver. De plus ma trĂšs chĂšre Hildegarde de Bingen expliquait que: « La lavande est chaude et sĂšche et sa chaleur est saine. Si on fait cuire de la lavande dans du vin et qu’on en boit souvent tiĂšde, on apaise les douleurs du foie et du poumon, ainsi que les vapeurs de la poitrine. Â» La lavande intervient donc sur un certain nombre de maladies. Ses vertus sont considĂ©rables, antiseptiques, anti-inflammatoires, antispasmodiques ainsi que celle, antalgiques, mais aussi cardiotoniques, anticoagulantes, cicatrisantes, et rĂ©gulatrices du systĂšme nerveux central : calmantes, sĂ©datives, anxiolytiques, antidĂ©pressives, neurotropes, musculotropes… bref un cocktail auquel nous pouvons y adjoindre des souvenirs « aromathĂ©rapeutiques Â», on ne peut oublier cette senteur si propre au soleil du sud, que nos grands parents utilisaient aussi pour assainir le linge de maison.

Il y a dans ton travail la relation du corps et au monde mĂ©dical et de maniĂšre plus gĂ©nĂ©rale au soin, comment-est ce que tu estimes que la notion de Pharmakon, particuliĂšrement chĂšre au philosophe Bernard Stiegler, fait corps avec ta dĂ©marche ?

Oui les corps ne sont pas prĂ©sents mais montrĂ©s de maniĂšre dĂ©tournĂ©e, comme je l’ai expliquĂ©, jamais frontale toujours explicitĂ©e par une batterie d’élĂ©ments qui l’augmentent ou l’appareillent par sa parure, son armature et sa parade (qu’elle soit nuptiale ou militaire d’ailleurs, voir mĂȘme le mĂ©lange des deux). De surcroĂźt, je porte une rĂ©flexion plus gĂ©nĂ©rale sur l’ambivalence des affects, des ressentis et le refus d’un partage binaire entre plaisir et peine. Cette pensĂ©e se concrĂ©tise dans ma production de sculptures et de dispositifs duplices, qui mĂȘlent le vocabulaire de la guerre et du champ mĂ©dical pour mieux rĂ©Ă©valuer la distinction entre blessure et soin.

C’est ainsi que la notion de pharmakon prend toute son ampleur, comme l’explicite Bernard Stiegler « le pharmakon est Ă  la fois poison et remĂšde, il est Ă  la fois ce qui permet de prendre soin et ce dont il faut prendre soin, au sens oĂč il faut y faire attention : c’est une puissance curative dans la mesure et la dĂ©mesure oĂč c’est une puissance destructrice. Cet Ă  la fois est ce qui caractĂ©rise la pharmacologie qui tente d’apprĂ©hender par le mĂȘme geste le danger et ce qui sauve. Â» C’est un processus d’attaque et d’auto-dĂ©fense en mĂȘme temps, des Ă©tats et des temporalitĂ©s contraires que j’aime rĂ©unir dans mon travail, et que je fais maintenant de maniĂšre totalement inconsciente : des armes en verres fragiles mais agressives, des civiĂšres matelassĂ©s aussi douces que hiĂ©ratiques, des Ă©tendards qu’on ne peut facilement identifier, des panoplies mĂȘlant des objets mĂ©dicaux qui Ă©cartent les chairs tout en les soignants, des drones armaturĂ©s et translucides ou bien un parterre de fleurs de lavande qui agresse les sens tellement l’odeur est quasi insoutenable. Le pharmakon est au cƓur de ma rĂ©flexion, mais dĂ©clinĂ© de tels sortes, que plusieurs types d’antinomies (temporelle, matĂ©rielle, conceptuelle) agissent comme une balance dont on ne peut savoir si elles sont destructrices ou salvatrices.

Est-ce tu penses qu’il y a des aspects dans ton travail qui peuvent rĂ©sister Ă  toute explication et assumer un part d’obscuritĂ©, de mystĂšres ?

Je ne parlerais pas de mystĂšre, mais d’un discours qui nous Ă©chappe, et c’est tant mieux. Tout ne doit pas ĂȘtre expliquĂ©, mĂȘme si j’ai tendance Ă  le faire car je conceptualise (trop) mon travail. Mais il me semble qu’apprĂ©cier une Ɠuvre – en gĂ©nĂ©ral – pour ses qualitĂ©s esthĂ©tiques, relationnelles, contextuelles ou bien formalistes est la moindre des choses Ă  faire. Une Ɠuvre a aussi des qualitĂ©s Ă©motionnelles, on a tendance Ă  l’oublier dans l’Ăšre du digital, et de la fast culture, une Ɠuvre qu’importe son mĂ©dium et sa taille elle peut nous faire vibrer – si un tant soit peu nous la voyons IRL. En somme si une Ɠuvre est ineffable c’est dĂ©jĂ  un bon dĂ©but, le reste suivra.

Comment est-ce que tu vois le futur de ta production artistique, quels sont tes projets Ă  venir ?

Niveau projets, je viens de rentrer dans une galerie Ă  Paris, je vais voir ce que l’avenir me rĂ©serve, j’ai plusieurs expositions collectives qui arrivent avec des rĂ©sidences. Le schĂ©ma classique diront nous, mais pas que. J’ai en tĂȘte aussi depuis quelques mois de crĂ©er une fragrance, ou du moins une Ɠuvre olfactive, qui pourrait ĂȘtre vendue comme un parfum, Ă  base de lavandula angustifolia, d’encens, de benjoin mais aussi d’odeur plutĂŽt froide, mĂ©tallique, voire mĂȘme repoussante. Enfin, l’idĂ©e du professorat fait son chemin, dans une Ă©cole d’art, ou dans d’autres sphĂšres qui me sont proches. Et je souhaite ĂȘtre plus engagĂ© dans la jeune crĂ©ation française et europĂ©enne en aidant le plus possible les jeunes artistes plasticien.ne.s Ă  comprendre la complexitĂ© mais aussi le foisonnement du maillage artistique contemporain.

Pour aller plus loin :

– MĂ©diĂ©valisme https://journals.openedition.org/itineraires/1782
– PrĂ©raphaĂ©lisme https://histoire-image.org/fr/etudes/preraphaelisme-anglais-quete-absolu

– Approche queer https://journals.openedition.org/rechercheseducations/6611

– Corps augmentĂ© https://www.cairn.info/revue-d-ethique-et-de-theologie-morale-2015-4-page-75.htm
– Science fiction https://journals.openedition.org/genrehistoire/405
– Soin du futur https://journals.openedition.org/lectures/39389

Interview by Charline Kirch // Interview par Charline Kirch

A huge thank you to Floryan for his answers // Un grand merci à Floryan pour ses réponses.

Featured image credit : “L’assemblĂ©e” by Floryan Varennes // Image de couverture : “L’assemblĂ©e” par Floryan Varennes

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“Violence Vitale”, is open to the public until 03/09/21 at the Maison des MĂ©tiers du Cuirs in Graulhet. // “Violence Vitale”, est Ă  visiter jusqu’au 03/09/21 Ă  la Maison des MĂ©tiers du Cuirs de Graulhet.

Find all July on the Expo156 Instagram account a visual selection made in collaboration with Floryan Varennes. // Retrouvez tout le mois de Juillet sur le compte Instagram d’Expo156 une sĂ©lection visuelle rĂ©alisĂ©e en collaboration avec Floryan Varennes.

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If you enjoyed this article, don’t hesitate to support Expo156 on Patreon! đŸ€ // Si cet article vous a plu, n’hĂ©sitez pas Ă  soutenir Expo156 sur Patreon! đŸ€

Interview

Head in the Water – Interview with Talking Shell –

Camille Mercier, aka Talking Shell, is a jewelry designer and illustrator. Her exceptionally delicate work is largely inspired by the biology of wild and aquatic worlds. In this interview, which I am extremely proud to present to you, she expresses herself for the first time on the meaning of her work and takes us on a journey through the world of plankton with a communicative joy.

Can you introduce yourself, what is your background ? 

I’m Camille, I’m 27 years old and I live in Versailles, France, a beautiful city very close to its conservative clichĂ© !  I studied Applied Arts in Paris for a year (scenography, graphism, drawing…). Soon after, I wanted to learn a craft profession, something very  technical that would never leave my hands, which would help me translate drawings into 3D creations. I hesitated between studying  stained-glass, lace, corsetry or lingerie, but I had a big crush for the BJOP School, (Haute Ecole de Bijouterie Paris) where I learned french  traditional high jewelry technics, CAD, jewelry painting, gemmology for 2 years, and jewelry design for 2 more years.  After 4 years studying in the backstages of the french high-jewlery scene, I didn’t feel that my work would make a change at a social or  environnemental level. So I choosed to work as a supervisor in a boarding school in Versailles instead, which has a pedagogic aspect that I enjoy. I have a weird rythm and work mostly by night, I make my art every time I have a moment for myself. Sometimes I bring some work at so I can share a little of the process with the students too.

Facemasks, earrings, crowns, necklaces and many others, you have a wonderful and varied work of creation of jewels, with a vocabulary that comes from biology. Can you present it to us ? 

In a few words, I would say that my creations are jigsaw puzzles of details with a fragile balance.
I like them to be seen as adornments, prosthesis, masks, but also as purely useless structures, just there to sparkle for a few moments in the eye.

The mask has been my main preoccupation for the last 2 years; it is at the same time a tool of pure identity expression, a fascinating area of the body to explore, (and thus rich in technical challenges).
This taste for the mask is hyper linked to my fascination for digital filters and virtual worlds. I find some of them so beautiful, so magical, that I want to create my own with the means at hand, that is to say my knowledge in jewelry.
I feel very happy when someone asks me if my masks are «real» or not !

My masks etc are very fragile for a reason; I always look for a kind of «extreme» delicacy in the shapes, which I think reminds us of the ephemeral nature of beauty, to provoke a feeling of being confronted to a moving, living maze of details.

They also have an intrinsic relationship with my body and my own biology, which is in a way the basic ingredient of my inspiration. I also draw on the biology of the wild world to translate my senses and concerns into a language that is both visual and intuitive. I work a lot with analogy, which allows me to look for synchronicities between my behavior and the world around me, between the biological capacities of an animal or a plant and the hopes I have for my future self.

How is your creative process organized ? 

As my practice is fairly new and constantly evolving, I don’t have an organization as such. However there are recurring elements in each project, there is always a new technical challenge for example.
I started making my own jewelry in early 2018, in response to a need to create objects that feel like me. I was exhausted from hiding.
I was dealing with the aftermath of dissociative disorders and PTSD, so forcing myself to work from my own face and body helped tremendously.
I started by standing in front of my mirror and carefully observing my face as a landscaper or a surgeon would, and little by little, playing with artificial petals or pieces of brass wire I created my first mask called «Terrible butinerie, tous les jardiniers sont morts». (It’s a kind of wordplay, butinerie is a mix between the verb butiner and mutinerie, so it means «Terrible butinerie, all the gardeners are dead».)

Since then I have been working systematically in front of my mirror, very slowly. I have to be very careful to not hurt my face when I use  metal or hot glue, I take the time to observe my bone structure. This slowness, working in detail has an extremely calming effect on me, it helps me to stay focused on one thing at a time (I get distracted very easily) and to learn to link self-expression with discipline. While slowing the pace of thought to develop a synthesis of simultaneous dreams through a drawing or an object, I find a place of healing and gratefulness.   

The mask has become a tool for self-expression, a revelation of what is hidden, intrinsic, but it is also a kind of protection, of camouflage that helps me feel more honest, uninhibited and a bit proud. 

Each mask is linked in one way or another to one of the five senses, or to a specific feeling which I love to translate in my own terms. The «Anemonargh» facemask for example refracts the sensation of water rising to the mouth, of an appetite that is both voracious and very attentive to the most subtle tastes. The underboob necklace underlines the sensation of the chest about to explode during premenstrual syndrome, while the golden mask «Solar winds blowing a moth into pieces» expresses a joy that explodes an old representation of the Self. 

Finishing a mask is like finishing a chrysalis, that I can put away with the feeling of having changed into a more honest person, more full of herself. Allowing myself to do what I like is also how I manage to express generosity to myself and others.
I always feel like I’ve been travelling into a far away and timeless land, and I am bringing back memories and gifts to my friends.

The selfie and the sharing on social networks is entirely part of the process of healing, once it’s shared, it’s done, like «I finally said it, even if I feel so, so very clumsy.» With time, at each post on @talking.shell (the alias wasn’t choosen by hazard, it’s inspired from the anime Ghost in the Shell and the amazing cartoon Song of the Sea), this moment feels easier.
And it can just be a nice moment where the 27 year old me winks at the 13 year old Camille, where I give myself all the cutest, brightest and sometimes a little bit provocative stuff I’ve ever dreamed of !

We find in your work a strong interest for the living world, and especially the aquatic world, what are its origins ? And what are the media that allow you to feed this interest (scientific resources, books, websites, documentaries, etc.) ? Does this make you claim an ecological dimension in your work ?

Pleasure !
I have a very vivid memory of the first time I went to the beach when I was 2 years old. I remember it as the most irrationnal thing I have ever seen, it felt like a totally new dimension. Exploring, running butt naked on the beach with nothing to do but play is heaven !
While bathing and playing in the sand, you are constantly tickeld by something.
For me, this is where I started to develop a sense of erotism (that I really differenciate from sexuality here), a very natural sense of pleasure.
For the little anecdote, my first dream tinted with erotism involved a cloud and a sea anemona tickling the back of my knee !
I was also very deeply shocked by the shipwreck of the oil tanker Erika on the coasts of Brittany and its consequences on the wildlife.
I explored some injuried areas with my class when I was 6 years old and it was both a great experience of observations in team, but also a source of anger and a feeling of helplessness.
Seing how obsessed I was, my mother bought me a book called «My friend of the seas», with some simple scientific informations about the seas, winds, wildlife on the beach.. This is how it started !

When I discovered the world of plankton during an exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, I definitely fell in love with the abyss and the teeming unknown that is hidden there, constantly multiplied.
It was the day scientists presented the first photo of a black hole. I prefer to look at what’s going on down there.We know more about the surface of the Moon or Mars than we do about our oceans. I think it says a lot about humans. Of course, no one wants to “reach the bottom”, darkness and depths are still equated with hell. But it’s really a paradise teeming with life and a reservoir of knowledge and revelations !

The Pleurobrachia Pileus plays a major role of inspiration in my work. When I discovered this macroplankton specie, I was simultaneously obsessed with the electricity that runs through the different areas of the human brain, and I was trying to materialize this electrical network in the form of a mask.
I found that the millions of bioluminescent cilia and the oval body of the pleurobrachia resembled my representations of my own neural electricity. It was a funny unexplained feeling of kinship that still obsesses me.
Why the pleurobrachia, why do I have the intimate feeling that this tiny creature is “me” in another form?
It lives in darkness, and despite its gelatinous and entirely translucent body, it evolves gracefully, perfectly adapted to the pressure of the waters.
It has no eyes, but it has millions of tiny luminous eyelashes that vibrate at full speed, and two long arms thinner than hair. It doesn’t need light, it makes its own, and this also serves as a signal, a “language” of sorts. It is a predator the size of a gooseberry.
It often comforts me to know that there are tiny, seemingly vulnerable creatures that live in symbiosis with their environment through wonders of extremely refined behavior.

I learned later that this peculiar specie is the one of the first to develop a neural system ! I was mindblown by the synchronicity between my physical sensation of electricity, this kindred intuition, and the biological history of the Pleurobrachia.
This particular moment got me obsessed with phylogeny, (the study of the links between related species) and I am still looking for synchronicities between strange organisms and ourselves, to finally reveal it in my own way, through jewelry for example.
It is the wildlife that brings me the most comfort, confidence and peace. Emphasizing the connection between a flourishing mentalhealth and a rich, beautiful and respected environment, inspiring curiosity, ultimately empathy for either is I hope a consequence of my approach.

I check in regularly: 

https://oceans.taraexpeditions.org

http://planktonchronicles.org/fr/ 

https://www.futura-sciences.com

Some of my favourite books are written by sailors; The Long Road by Bernard Moitessier, Cette nuit, la mer est noire by Florence Arthaud. 

I also enjoy reading Ernst Haeckel, Darwin and Lamarck, especially their thoughts on phylogeny. Claire Nouvian (abysses), Christian Sardet (plankton), François Sarano’s work about sperm whales.

I watch a lot of documentaries; Chasing Corals, Night on Earth – Mission Blue is my favorite, about the life of Dr Sylvia Earle who one of my  favorite heroins ! 

The movie Oceans is a basic, I also go through the BBC Earth (Blue Planet) and National Geographic networks. 

I follow a hundred instagram accounts like: @jam_and_germs, @waterbod, @womanscientist, @marine.animals @the_story_of_a_biologist, @noaaoceanexploration, @800down, @fondationtaraoceans

French speaking friends, I recommend you @hugorichel dissertation “L’OdyssĂ©e des Abysses”, which is really great ! I also grew up with the Tv show Thalassa 🙂 

I listen a lot to whale songs (humpback whales mainly, dolphins etc). 

You also have an important practice of drawing, which can be seen on @magma.seed, your second Instagram account.  You express a generous graphism through its details and arborescence, which can be reflected in sweet and powerful organic forms. Can you talk about this work, and how you relate it to your jewelry design activity ?

@talking.shell is the evolution of the @magma.seed Pokemon.


I am glad you mention this, these accounts are stages of my evolution but also two facets of my personality. They might look like opposites somehow (black and white versus colors) but to me they truly go hand-in-hand.


@magma.seed is a raw tiny ball of energy, judgmental as hell, who likes to analyse and dissect everything she scans in an enormous pattern of tiny details.
I always draw the eyes of the characters first, their vision lead the rest of the drawing.
At the end of it I want to have the intense feeling that I synthetized the contrasts, the contradictions in me to the point that I feel like I didn’t do this drawing myself.
So the use of black & white is very important to me, I like that it is so exacting, half warm, half violent.


After around 10 years of drawing in this style, not really moving out of this comfort zone I looked for a way to work in color, which I didn’t feel comfortable with, and this frustration coincided with the discovery of digital filters and my desire to use my knowledge of jewelry.
I needed to develop a cheerful universe around me at that time, and to claim my need for fun, for nuances.


In january 2018 I made the decision to find a way to show this side of my personality that I kept inhibited and shy. I wanted to share another face, at first it felt like wearing masks was something very provocative. My sister told me multiple times «You are finally coming out !».
I buzzed my head (which is still a punk thing in Versailles haha) and created the alias @talking.shell which was an expression of my will to give one of my facets a voice.
She is another part of the puzzle, eager to communicate with other humans and who gets dressed up for the occasion.
She wants to play, to experiment lighteness, sensuality and to share it with her friends, to transmit her interests and passions. She is way less of a perfectionist than @magma.seed and would allow herself lots of mistakes.
The masks are a kind of metamorphosis tools in a quest for identity, they have to be delicate, so they can meet a newborn self, carrying it to another edge.
Delicate is my kindest way of precision, an empathetic side of respect, and patience the calm way of my determination.

The drawing process has changed a lot since I started making my masks, it has become a moment of rest, a kind of refuge after spending a lot of time in holographic colors and rhinestones. There is something tiring about showing my face (even masked) on a social network, especially after looking at it in detail during the whole creation process. I like to hide a little sometimes.

So these two are as different as complementary now, it often makes me think of the myth of Persephone, a goddess of eternal spring, who spends 6 months on earth, 6 months in the underworld. Whether it’s on one side or the other, she cultivates her secret gardens.

How would you define the artistic sphere in which you are involved ? And what are the creators that you think are important to include in it ? 

I would say that it is a sphere that defines itself as a breach, an intersection between biomimicry and technomimicry.
It includes an abundance of identity researches, hybrid self-expression tools; between make-up, VR filters, jewelry and clothing.
With this creative dynamism, I feel like social networks like Instagram have become a kind of video game where you can embody as many aspects of yourself as necessary, “choose your fighter” moments, a pantheon of avatars which goes hand in hand with a dynamic of self-seeking.
Dystopias blend into everyday life, anchoring dreams in a continually archaic world.

One of the aspects I feel very close to is a metamorphosis of the notion of craftsmanship, which I feel is gradually giving up its clichĂ© “dirty hands and wooden tools». Iris Van Herpen is a prime example of a hybrid creator with haute couture technics mixed with 3D printed structures and materials.

I cannot talk about the artistic sphere in which I am involved without talking about the artists I’ve been in contact with, and how their influence guided me in my art-therapy process. I love to think that their is no such artistic sphere (at a personal level at least) without friendly and caring interactions. Without those open hearted talks late at night, without sharing doubts or technical difficulties, without support etc, no sphere or «community» would happen.
So one of the best ideas I had during these 3 years was to keep in mind @ines.alpha’s advices all along. Independently of her incredible sense of integrity and discipline in her art, thinking about it is always an intense source of enthousiasm and bravery. Her bold and colorful work feels to me as an invitation to trust myself.
@proxima2000taur has been an incredibly supportive friend and an inspiring artistic presence. He plays a huge role into this sphere, using his face and body almost like land art. He definitely is some of the creators that make me think about an interesection between biomimicry and technomimicry, alongside with @antr0morph for example. They share an interesting way of blending their personal lives with dystopias in order to propel themselves into the future. @nusi_quero and @uaun are milestones in this sphere. As Nusi inspires me to refract an impetuous generosity, Uaun’s work is an invitation to look inward more closely, to explore my blind spots and dig out the roots of my energy. The words entanglement and diffraction/refraction often came back in our discussions and it inspired me to use more photoshop in my creative process in order to multiply the shapes I realised in metal etc.

I am fascinated with artists like @casey_curran, @lokidolor, @james.t.merry of course, but also @hany_b__ and @11v151131_m06@harriet.blend or @andrewthomashuang, @entangledothers, @adem.elahel…  

As for my drawings on @magma.seed, I feel close to Belkis Ayon and the Spirit Codex by Solange Knopf. 

You worked with Sarah Mayer on the creation of an Instagram filter from one of your masks, called Pleurobrachia. How did this collaboration go ? 

Working with Sarah felt like an evidence and it was so simple ! I sent her two pictures of the mask, a video of a pleurobrachia, a few indications about textures and movements
 And she just made it happen and translated it perfectly !
It was a dream come true, when I made the mask I constantly imagined it moving, shiny and a bit glossy.
We are actually thinking about updating the filter for Instagram !

What are your current projects ? 

Now that I have been exploring my face, hiding it under strass and petals, I am taking a few steps back to reflect on what happened during these last 3 years. I think that I am done sitting and trying to look pretty behind my masks, it’s time to investigate other parts of my body, to expand the space my work occupies, which implies a lot of new challenges !

I am increasingly interested in creating complete characters, and to give them a context, an environment, a voice.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking for delicacy, sparkles and a form of grace in my work, intimately linked to a questioning of my femininity, and I realize that I stayed in this representation of myself in order to avoid expressing the qualified as «raw» and «violent» sides of my personality.
The thing is this side might be carrying the roots of my creative energy and the craddle of my emotions. I want to give it more space.

I also realized that I was not sharing the trajectories of thought, the reflections that I was making during the making of the masks, that until now I have not shared the “why” of my creations. For each mask, I have dozens of stories to tell and I think I’ll share them via the website I’m working on.
Let’s just say that I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to allow myself some “maturity” and confidence to move forward into a new stage of my journey, which also includes thinking about how I would like to earn a living, create a positive dynamic in response to environmental issues, and thrive in the creative process.
I am also very eager to be able to exhibit my work, at the moment a few people have been able to see my masks in real life or try them on and I can’t wait to make it happen !
I am actually working on a custom wedding mask and this is a very good challenge. I am considering making a few small facemasks for sale, to celebrate these last 3 years of hesitations and my will to have faith and move on.

A heartfelt thank you to Camille for her answers, for the time and energy she devoted to it.

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Interview by Charline Kirch

Featured image credit : Planktonic Sword by Talking Shell

Find on the Expo156 ‘s Instagram account a curation of works and images elaborated with Talking Shell that will make you continue our journey through the deep sea 🩑

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Whole New Worlds

Something is Happening

Something is clearly happening. This is something we said to each other at “Hortus Conclusus”, the last exhibition I had the pleasure of visiting, organized by students from the art school in the city where I live. These words every time they are pronounced make me feel an immense joy, an impatience about the future and a sense of gratitude to be experiencing the best that the present is able to offer us. Something is happening, we are unable to name this something, but yet we can feel it collectively, deep inside ourselves. It is something that is related to the most beautiful energy. It is no longer a question of being afraid to create beauty, or even to force ourselves to do it. The dualisms are slowly disappearing. And many things that previously seemed contradictory now seem complementary. There is something that is becoming unlocked, liberated, open. I think of the keys of NaĂŻa Combary, which she talks about so well in “Women artists are dangerous”, the podcast in which she was invited. There are magical objects that can unlock things in our mind, to empower us. There is something clearly to do with feminist, queer, anti-racist and environmentalist struggles that give us so much hope, and project us into worlds so much more dignified. Blossoming, rebirth and regenerating worlds where there is always something happening.

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Il se passe clairement quelque chose. C’est quelque chose que nous nous sommes dit Ă  “Hortus Conclusus”, la derniĂšre exposition que j’ai eu le bonheur de visiter, organisĂ©e par des Ă©tudiant.e.s aux Beaux-Arts de la ville dans laquelle je rĂ©side. Ces mots Ă  chaque fois qu’ils sont prononcĂ©s me plongent dans une joie immense, une impatience dans l’avenir et un sentiment de gratitude de pouvoir vivre le meilleur dont le prĂ©sent est capable de nous offrir. Il se passe quelque chose, nous sommes incapables de nommer ce quelque chose, mais pourtant nous pouvons arriver Ă  le ressentir collectivement, au fond de nous-mĂȘmes, intĂ©rieurement. C’est quelque chose qui a Ă  voir avec la plus belle des Ă©nergies. Il n’est plus question d’avoir peur de crĂ©er du beau, ni mĂȘme de s’obliger Ă  le faire. Les dualismes s’effacent peu Ă  peu. Et beaucoup de choses qui semblaient jusqu’alors contradictoires nous paraissent dĂ©sormais complĂ©mentaires. Il y a quelque chose qui est en train de se dĂ©bloquer, de se libĂ©rer, de s’ouvrir. Je pense aux clĂ©s de NaĂŻa Combary dont elle parle si bien dans « Les femmes artistes sont dangereuses Â», le podcast dans lequel elle a Ă©tĂ© invitĂ©e. Il y a des objets magiques Ă  mĂȘme de dĂ©verrouiller des choses dans notre esprit, de nous empouvoirer. Il y a quelque chose d’Ă©vident Ă  voir avec les luttes fĂ©ministes, queer, antiracistes et Ă©cologistes qui nous donnent beaucoup d’espoir, et nous projettent dans des mondes tellement plus dignes. Des mondes en fleurs, renaissants et rĂ©gĂ©nĂ©rĂ©s oĂč il se passe toujours quelque chose.

Hortus Conclusus

Text by Charline Kirch // Texte par Charline Kirch

I thank from the bottom of my heart all the people I met and those who were involved in “Hortus Conclusus”. Élise Deubel and Garance Henry, Talking Shell and Proxima2000taur for your precious feedbacks. Élise Deubel, NaĂŻa Combary and Marie LĂ©on for your wonderful keys. NaĂŻa Combary for this magical podcast.

Je remercie du fond du cƓur toutes les personnes que j’ai rencontrĂ©es et celles qui ont pris part Ă  “Hortus Conclusus”. Élise Deubel et Garance Henry, Talking Shell et Proxima2000taur pour vos prĂ©cieux retours. Élise Deubel, NaĂŻa Combary et Marie LĂ©on pour vos magnifiques clĂ©s. NaĂŻa Combary pour ce podcast magique.

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Interview

Eromorphosis(1) Les Âmes en Fleurs. Interview with Valentin Ranger

“Eromorphosis (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs” is a 3D film directed by the artist Valentin Ranger. This film presents us with a virtual poetic walk through the villa Noailles, around a profusion of sculptural and theatrical installations, metamorphoses celebrating the diversity of bodies, Love and the fragility of flowers. I wanted to talk with Valentin about his film because I was moved by this work, by its tenderness, its hybrid graphic beauty, its power to enchant.

Can you introduce yourself and your plastic work?

My name is Valentin Ranger, I am an artist and I am currently working in Paris. I worked in the theater before entering the Beaux-Arts de Paris. My artistic mediums vary between 3D, installation and drawing. My research evolves with the understanding of how the body functions and interacts with its environment at a quantum and macroscopic level, carnal and spiritual. 3D allows me to build an ecosystem that celebrates our mutations, our fluidity and our ability to connect to new narratives, linked by post-human and anthropological questions.

Following a residency that you did at the Villa Noailles in June 2020, you made a film entitled “Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs”. How did the residency and the creation of this film go?

I went to the Villa Noailles to work on an exhibition (Heroes/HeroĂŻnes) where I made drawings. The exhibition was a true testimony of the solidarity and love that resides inside the Villa Noailles. During this residency I had the chance to discover an incredible architecture, but above all a sunny, generous and very inspiring team. It is a place of immense creative strength. The region is magnificent, the vegetation is lush, everything led to contemplation and dream.

There is in your film an invitation to let go, something very heartwarming. It also seems to be part of a form of surreality. There is the presence of Marie-Laure de Noailles, who was a supporter of the Surrealist movement. She also appears in Man Ray’s “Les MystĂšres du ChĂąteau de DĂ©” filmed at the Villa Noailles in 1929. The Villa is like transfigured in your film, bathing in art and vegetation. How did the figure of Marie-Laure de Noailles and the architecture of her Villa help you to construct soothing visual landscapes, rich in beauty and symbolism? What meaning do you give to all these visions?

The architecture of the place, conceived by the architect Mallet-Stevens, was strongly inspired by a ship that I wanted to rethink as a ship flying through the cosmos. I was very inspired by the influence of Marie Laure on Dali, Man Ray, Brancusi and Cocteau. There is a lot of love inside this place, a celebration of flowers through the gardens, a tolerance for beautiful dreams.

It was the perfect place to tell the story of the creation of new body forms, linked to our powerful and sensitive image of flowers, to their diversity. I wanted to imagine a new form of poetic and sensual reproduction, the birth of a new species linked to these new bonds. Focused on tenderness, vulnerable but strong.

You use 3D modeling not as a means of realistic representation but rather as an extension of your visual world. We can see it with the integration of your floral drawings or for example with “les laboureurs du cƓur” which by their bodies, their textures evoke living sculptures. Can you tell us about them?

Drawing is a real support for my work, it is a place of freedom that directly welcomes our instincts and sometimes our fragility. There is an ambivalence that exists within this film where the sculptures cannot live but still try to deliver a message of love. The creatures are protected from the deep construction that we have of our representations of the body. These bodies are rather metamorphoses of feelings and inner affect. The biomorphic sculptures are filled with magic, phantasmagoria, and assumed interiority. There are no rules that prevent them from loving.

In a description of your film, you mention a celebration of the diversity of bodies. What place do you give to queer identities in your work in general?

Thanks to the Queer community’s fight against exclusion, new bodies are acquiring the right to live and love. But this right is fluctuating, the exclusions persist and the fights are always present and renewed. The 3D and the virtual universes are potentials, criticisms of our possible worlds. Of our solidary communities. The deconstruction of our westernized bodies leads us to define new links that we had then lost. The bodies are strange and complex. We define ourselves by the representations we have acquired, when scientific progress reveals an inner world far from our education. My work is directly linked to this complexity and to the future possibilities of assuming ourselves always in metamorphosis and fluidity. The virtual is a new theater for all our bodies in transition.

Version Française

“Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs” est un film 3D rĂ©alisĂ© par l’artiste Valentin Ranger. Ce film nous prĂ©sente une balade poĂ©tique virtuelle dans les murs de la villa Noailles, autour d’une profusion d’installations sculpturales et thĂ©Ăątrales, des mĂ©tamorphoses cĂ©lĂ©brant la diversitĂ© des corps, l’Amour et la fragilitĂ© des fleurs. J’ai eu envie d’échanger avec Valentin sur son film car j’ai Ă©tĂ© Ă©mue par cette Ɠuvre, par sa douceur, sa beautĂ© graphique hybridĂ©e, son pouvoir d’enchantement.

Est-ce que tu peux nous présenter ton parcours, ainsi que ton travail plastique ?

Je m’appelle Valentin Ranger, je suis artiste et je travaille actuellement sur Paris. J’ai travaillĂ© dans le thĂ©Ăątre avant de rentrer aux Beaux-Arts de Paris. Mes supports varient entre la 3D, l’installation et le dessin. Mes recherches Ă©voluent Ă  mesure des comprĂ©hensions sur le fonctionnement du corps et ses interactions avec son environnement Ă  un niveau quantique et macroscopique, charnel et spirituel. La 3D me permet de construire un Ă©cosystĂšme qui cĂ©lĂšbre nos mutations, notre fluiditĂ© et nos capacitĂ©s Ă  nous connecter Ă  des nouveaux rĂ©cits, habitĂ©s par des interrogations post-humaines et anthropologiques.

Suite Ă  une rĂ©sidence que tu as effectuĂ© Ă  la Villa Noailles au mois de Juin 2020 tu as rĂ©alisĂ© le film intitulĂ© « Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs Â». Comment s’est dĂ©roulĂ©e la rĂ©sidence, et la crĂ©ation de ce film ?

Je suis allĂ© Ă  la Villa Noailles pour travailler sur une exposition (HĂ©ros/HeroĂŻnes) oĂč j’ai rĂ©alisĂ© des dessins. L’exposition Ă©tait un vrai tĂ©moignage de la solidaritĂ© et l’amour qui rĂ©side Ă  l’intĂ©rieur de la Villa Noailles. Pendant cette rĂ©sidence j’ai pu dĂ©couvrir une architecture incroyable, mais surtout une Ă©quipe solaire, gĂ©nĂ©reuse et trĂšs inspirante. C’est un lieu d’une force crĂ©atrice immense. La rĂ©gion est magnifique, la vĂ©gĂ©tation luxuriante, tout amenait Ă  la contemplation et au rĂȘve.

Il y a dans ton film une invitation au lĂącher-prise, une poĂ©sie trĂšs rĂ©confortante. Il semble s’inscrire Ă©galement dans une forme de surrĂ©alitĂ©. Il y a la prĂ©sence de Marie-Laure de Noailles, qui fut une soutien du mouvement SurrĂ©aliste. Elle apparaĂźt d’ailleurs dans « Les MystĂšres du ChĂąteau de DĂ© Â» de Man Ray tournĂ© Ă  la Villa Noailles en 1929. La Villa est comme transfigurĂ©e dans ton film, baignant dans l’art et la vĂ©gĂ©tation. Comment la figure de Marie-Laure de Noailles et l’architecture de sa villa t’ont aidĂ© Ă  construire des paysages visuels apaisants, riches de beautĂ©s et de symboles ? Quel sens est-ce que tu donnes Ă  toutes ces visions ?

L’architecture du lieu, pensĂ©e par l’architecte Mallet-Stevens s’inspire fortement d’un navire que j’ai voulu repenser comme un navire volant Ă  travers le cosmos.  J’étais trĂšs inspirĂ© par l’influence de Marie Laure sur Dali, Man Ray, Brancusi et Cocteau. Il y a beaucoup d’amour Ă  l’intĂ©rieur de ce lieu, une cĂ©lĂ©bration des fleurs Ă  travers les jardins, une tolĂ©rance pour les beaux rĂȘves.

C’était l’endroit parfait pour raconter la crĂ©ation de nouvelles formes de corps, liĂ© Ă  notre image puissante et sensible des fleurs, Ă  leur diversitĂ©. Je voulais imaginer une nouvelle forme de reproduction poĂ©tique et sensuelle, la naissance d’une nouvelle espĂšce liĂ©e de ces nouveaux liens. ConcentrĂ©e sur la tendresse, vulnĂ©rable mais forte.

Tu utilises la modĂ©lisation 3D non pas comme un moyen de reprĂ©sentation rĂ©aliste mais plutĂŽt comme un prolongement de ton univers plasticien. On le voit avec l’intĂ©gration de tes dessins floraux ou encore par exemple avec les laboureurs du cƓur qui de par leurs corps, leurs textures Ă©voquent des sculptures vivantes. Est-ce que tu peux nous en dire quelques mots ?

Le dessin est un vrai support pour mon travail, c’est un endroit de libertĂ© qui accueille directement nos instincts et parfois nos fragilitĂ©s. Il y a une ambivalence qui existe Ă  l’intĂ©rieur de ce film oĂč les sculptures ne peuvent pas vivre mais essaient pour autant de dĂ©livrer un message d’amour. Les crĂ©atures sont protĂ©gĂ©es de la construction profonde que nous avons de nos reprĂ©sentations du corps. Ces corps sont plutĂŽt des mĂ©tamorphoses de sentiments et d’affect intĂ©rieur. Les sculptures biomorphiques sont remplies de magie, de fantasmagorie, et d’intĂ©rioritĂ© assumĂ©e. Il n’y a pas de rĂšgles qui les empĂȘchent d’aimer.

Tu Ă©voques dans une description de ton Ɠuvre une cĂ©lĂ©bration de la diversitĂ© des corps. Quelle place tu donnes aux identitĂ©s Queer dans ton travail en gĂ©nĂ©ral ?

GrĂące aux combats de la communautĂ© Queer contre l’exclusion, de nouveaux corps acquiĂšrent le droit de vie et d’aimer. Mais ce droit est fluctuant, les exclusions persistent et les combats sont toujours prĂ©sents et renouvelĂ©s. La 3D et les univers virtuels sont des potentiels, critiques de nos mondes possibles. De nos communautĂ©s solidaires. 

La déconstruction de nos corps occidentalisés nous amÚne à définir des nouveaux liens que nous avions alors perdus. Les corps sont étranges et complexes. Nous nous définissons par des représentations que nous avons acquises, quand le progrÚs scientifique nous révÚle un monde intérieur loin de notre éducation. Mon travail est lié directement à cette complexité et aux futures possibilités de nous assumer toujours en métamorphose et fluidité. Le virtuel est un nouveau théùtre pour tous nos corps en transition.

Interview by Charline Kirch // Interview par Charline Kirch

A big thank you to Valentin Ranger for this interview. All the images presented in this article are his property.

// Un grand merci à Valentin Ranger pour ses réponses. Toutes les images présentées dans cet article sont sa propriété.

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