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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 Duperré 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 Duperré 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 “Libère-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.


Les créations de Victor Clavelly vont, notamment par leurs impressions en faux-semblants, subvertir les notions de matérialité et d’immatérialité. Elles habillent gynoïdes et trolls, donnent corps à un monde visuel et narratif acéré qui accueille aussi bien Rachel le bébé dragon que la marionnette Pierrot, des progénitures en révolte contre leur créateur, des golems vivants et émancipés.

Tu es designer et artiste 3D, diplômé de l’école Duperré en 2020, tu es l’auteur de quatre collections de vêtements. Comment est-ce que tu définis ton Å“uvre? Et comment est-ce que tu perçois l’évolution de celle-ci au cours de ces dernières années?

Je travaille sur les corps artificiels, j’aime créer des chimères de la tête aux pieds, raconter des histoires à travers les silhouettes. La mode est un terrain d’expérimentation immense dans lequel je m’amuse beaucoup, c’est comme un langage pour raconter ce que je veux. A chaque nouvelle collection j’arrive à mieux m’exprimer par les silhouettes, à développer 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 éléments pour développer des nouvelles choses. 

L’une des premières choses qui m’a frappé en regardant certaines de tes créations, c’est l’allongement des silhouettes par leur jambes que tu vas étendre, parfois à l’aide de prothèses. 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 chétive, ou puissante, je passe surtout par la coupe et la prothèse, il y a tant de procédés que l’on peut appliquer pour déformer des corps, c’est un terrain d’expérimentation infini, et on peut vraiment aller très loin, c’est l’un des principaux défis dans mon travail.

Il y a aussi une ambiguïté matérielle dans tes pièces. C’est quelque-chose qui j’imagine à beaucoup à voir avec ton processus de travail? Est-ce que tu peux nous en parler?

Le deuxième gros point dans mon travail est le faux-semblant par le print, pour imiter des matières, amplifier des formes, ça permet de créer des pièces qui fonctionnent très bien en images, qui sont facile à coudre, et qui prennent vraiment une autre dimension quand elles sont assemblées avec des pièces couture très travaillées. C’est les deux gammes de produits que je développe le plus. Pour ma prochaine collection, « Le jugement du Pontif » j’essaie de réaliser des pièces couture avec ces procédés de faux-semblants, mais ennoblis, c’est encore plus de travail mais ce sont des pièces exceptionnelles.

Dans « Le jugement du Pontif Â», l’édito consacré à ta quatrième collection paru dans Temple Magazine, ou encore dans « Save Room Â», tu associes tes créations vestimentaires à des espaces particuliers, des paysages et des constructions virtuelles. Comment se fait l’articulation entre les deux? De la même manière, comment l’édito de mode te permet-il d’inscrire le vêtement dans une narration?

Quand j’étais en primaire avec mon meilleur ami on faisait beaucoup de jeux de rôle, on dessinais constamment et se racontait les péripéties de nos avatars dans un univers que l’on créait de toutes pièces, 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 économie, sa situation politique. On adorait tout détruire en déclenchant des guerres, des catastrophes naturelles ou surnaturelles, tels des dieux ou des diables. La narration dans mon processus créatif est extrêmement importante, elle nourrit l’univers de ce que je raconte, elle me permet de développer chaque personnage, de leurs visages à leurs tenues. À la base je voulais développer des jeux vidéo, et j’avoue que ça me plairait beaucoup d’y revenir. 

J’ai choisi de faire un Master Image de mode Media Éditorial à Duperré pour me focaliser sur ce qui avait autour du vêtement, 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 inspiré par le jeu vidéo, il y a peut-être aussi le cinéma avec le maquillage, les prothèses qui peuvent avoir une parenté avec le monde des effets spéciaux. De même tu te réfères régulièrement à des personnages issus de l’imaginaire, comme par exemple la créature de Frankenstein ou Pinocchio. Quelles sont tes influences, les œuvres qui ont compté dans le développement de ton univers?

C’est drôle que tu parles de Frankenstein et Pinocchio, c’est des références qui me parlent beaucoup, le rapport entre la créature et le créateur, la progéniture, la frontière entre le père créateur et le démiurge, ainsi que la remise en question et l’émancipation de ces êtres. Ces problématiques que ces œuvres soulèvent ont été fondatrices dans mon travail. Je pense aussi à 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 publié en ce moment « Embryo Fashion Â», une sélection visuelle développée par Garance Henry et moi-même. De ton côté, tu parles de golem numérique, pour définir certaines de tes créations, golem qui veut dire embryon en hébreu. Tu as aussi notamment travaillé sur ce sujet dans ton mémoire de fin d’études, est-ce que tu peux nous en parler?

Mon mémoire 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 créatures que je sculpte en 3D de golem car elles sont comme invoquées, nées sans natalité, comme si leur illégitimité d’exister les rendaient monstrueuses, à la manière de Frankenstein. D’ailleurs lorsque l’on lit Frankenstein de Mary Shelley paru en 1818 il faut avoir en tête que l’écrivaine a perdu un bébé de sept mois trois ans auparavant.

Il me semble y avoir dans les créatures qui prennent forme dans ton travail, une forme de dépassements des dualismes entre humain-animal-machine, de la réalité et de la fiction. Dans son ouvrage « Libère-toi Cyborg Â», Ian Larue décrit la Cyborg de Donna Haraway comme une « nouvelle golem prête à sauver son peuple Â». Est-ce que tu te reconnais dans la pensée Cyborg?

Personnellement je m’amuse plus a m’identifier au démiurge plutôt qu’à la créature, j’aime trop jouer à Saroumane le blanc, invocateur d’armée. En revanche la problématique ontologique est au cœur de mon travail et c’est en étant encore plus juste dans les formes de mes vêtements, dans l’expression des visages que je sculpte, que mes golems numériques s’émancipent vraiment, et qu’ils prennent vie.

J’aimerais trop faire un film pour une collection future, où tous les modèles se rebellent contre moi et me démembrent 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



H̩l̬ne Jeudy РDigital Species

The reading of ” Digital Species “, by Hélène 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 Hélène 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 Exupéry, 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’Hélène Jeudy paru aux éditions FP&CF, m’a transporté dans un univers d’une imposante force visuelle, qui s’incarne à travers un graphisme généreux, multiple et imaginatif. Au fil des pages s’y déploie, entre les feuilles et les fleurs, un jardin fantastique habité par des espèces inconnues, mystérieuses et hybrides, en harmonie avec leur environnement. Cette première rencontre avec le travail d’Hélène Jeudy m’a donné envie lui poser quelques questions à propos de ce livre et l’ensemble de sa production artistique qui prends régulièrement forme au sein de GERIKO le collectif qu’elle a co-fondé avec Antoine Caecke, et qui va du dessin contemporain aux arts numériques.

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 née en Belgique et j’y ai rencontré Antoine, il est ma moitié 🙂

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 séparément, souvent pour l’occasion de longues périodes de recherche et d’expérimentation.

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

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

Nous apprécions particulièrement les outils numériques car ils permettent de concrétiser tout ce qu’on imagine sans se limiter.

D’assembler des sources très diverses de manière cohérente, et de construire un univers qui s’étend petit à petit.

Ce sont des outils exigeants, il y a beaucoup de contraintes techniques et de travail pour les maitriser, mais l’amélioration 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 très compliqué il y a encore quelques années.

L’immédiateté de certains logiciels récents permet aussi de travailler avec le même instinct que lorsque nous posons nos idées sur papier.

Ces outils nous offrent un champ énorme de créativité, d’associations et de nouveaux langages de narration à explorer.

Tu as sorti en 2020 le livre « Digital Species » aux éditions FP&CF. Il y a dedans une utilisation très généreuse des potentialités du médium, notamment par l’emploi de celluloïds qui offrent une double lecture à tes dessins, l’ajout d’un manga au milieu de l’édition, l’utilisation du procédé de la risographie pour l’impression.

Comment est né ce projet et comment s’est passé sa réalisation ? De manière générale, qu’est-ce que les techniques de l’image imprimée t’apportent dans ta pratique artistique ?

Digital Species s’est fait sur plusieurs années.

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

L’approche narrative du manga a finalement laissé la place à un livre de « poésie visuelle », le grand format permet de se balader dans chaque image, comme dans un tableau.

Cette série d’illustrations représente le corps de la femme en mutation, questionne la féminité par l’extrapolation du rapport de la femme à son corps et des changements que celui-ci subit à travers les évolutions aussi bien génétiques que numériques.

C’est une vision poétique de la manière dont la femme s’adapte à 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 celluloïds, du format, la reliure, c’est Maxime Milanesi qui s’en est occupé et a fait ces choix avec l’aide d’Arnaud Aubry.

Cet assemblage a nécessité énormément de temps et j’ai été très émue à la réception du livre terminé.

Avec GERIKO, vous avez réalisé des vidéos d’animation, notamment des clips musicaux comme par exemple « Anvil » pour Lorn. Comment passe-t-on du dessin à la vidéo ? Et comment s’opère le lien avec la musique ?

Nous sommes dans un travail au long cours dont l’objectif est de donner vie à nos personnages, à nos idées, et d’étendre notre univers. Et dans ce sens, le livre, le dessin ou l’animation sont très complémentaires.

Pour autant la pré-production et la réalisation d’un film demandent beaucoup de temps, d’investissement, et une patience particulière.

Trouver l’idée nous a demandé plusieurs mois de recherches, ce fut également le cas pour expérimenter avec les outils adaptés à l’animation que nous voulions créer, et trouver un rendu graphique qui s’approche le plus possible de celui de nos dessins.

Le lien avec la musique a été pensé à l’étape du story-board.

C’était une étape difficile aussi car nous souhaitions mettre en place le bon équilibre entre la narration et le rythme du morceau.

Une fois la production du film en route, nous avons reçu l’aide précieuse de deux amis animateurs, Anthony Lejeune et Manddy Wyckens, qui se sont chargés de l’animation du personnage. Pour le reste, c’est Antoine et moi qui avons tout réalisé.

Une année et demie, peut être deux ont été nécessaire pour mettre en place un film comme celui-là.

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

Nous recevons régulièrement des messages et des commentaires très touchants qui nous insufflent l’énergie de continuer le travail sur d’autres films.

Vous avez aussi travaillé avec Marine Serre sur la collection Printemps Eté 2019, comment s’est déroulée la collaboration ?

C’est génial de travailler avec Marine Serre, c’est une femme impressionnante.

Nous nous sommes rencontrées à Bruxelles, elle m’a donné rendez-vous alors qu’elle y passait pour un shooting photo.

Nous avons imaginé ensemble une illustration mappant entièrement le corps.

C’est une collaboration qui s’est faite de manière très fluide et évidente, dans la confiance.

Ton travail se situe souvent dans des mondes organiques, à la végétation dense et fantasmagorique, qui cache autant que révèle les personnages qui y vivent. A quel point est-ce que tu considères qu’il peut y avoir une dimension utopique dans ces environnements ?

Paradoxalement ces paysages organiques et luxuriants que je mets en image sont souvent liés à un environnement numérique. Et malgré la fascination que je nourrie pour les outils numériques, ils m’évoquent des scénarios plutôt dystopiques.

Au fil de nos travaux et de l’évolution de notre rapport à ces outils que nous utilisons, nous est venue l’idée de créer une dimension, qui peut être perçue comme utopique, dans laquelle nous pourrions contrebalancer toutes ces anticipations inquiétantes.

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

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

Dans ce Jardin, cohabitent un grand nombre d’espèces encore inconnues ; des femmes fusionnant avec l’environnement, des insectes chimériques, des spécimens végétaux extra-terrestres.

On y observe des souvenirs numériques troubles, brumeux. C’est un monde en perpétuelle mutation.

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

J’aime le travail de beaucoup de dessinateurs contemporains. Je collabore régulièrement avec certains de ces artistes pour des éditions collectives. Cette année nous avons participé au livre Torrent de Lagon Revue avec une vingtaine d’autres dessinateurs contemporains que j’admire tout particulièrement. Il m’est également arrivé de réaliser des dessins à 4 mains avec certains d’entre eux. La manière dont ces rencontres se concrétisent en projets communs m’inspire beaucoup.

En parallèle du dessin et de l’art numérique, je suis très sensible à la Joaillerie et aux marionnettes. Je m’intéresse aussi à la photo, au stylisme, à l’architecture, au cinéma et à la musique. Dans une certaine mesure, les arts numériques me permettent de réunir à peu près tous ces domaines.

Quant à la lecture, je me suis replongée en ce moment dans certains contes d’enfance : « Le Petit Prince » de Saint Exupéry, les contes d’Andersen et d’autres encore.

Quels sont tes projets actuels ?

Plusieurs projets se croisent. Avec Geriko, nous réalisons un nouveau film d’animation qui fait écho à un livre d’illustration sur lequel nous travaillons.

Nous nous intéressons aussi de près à l’élaboration d’une expérience interactive, proche d’un jeu vidéo, mais il est encore trop tôt pour déterminer si ce projet verra le jour ou non.

Interview by Charline Kirch // Propos recueillis par Charline Kirch

A big thank you to Hélène Jeudy for her answers and the time she devoted to it. // Un grand merci à Hélène Jeudy pour ses réponses et le temps qu’elle y a consacré

Featured image credit : Digital Species by Hélène Jeudy // Image de couverture : Digital Species par Hélène Jeudy

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



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 Métiers 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, Jêrome 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 Lévy, 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 Férré; philosophical or psychoanalytical readings with Paul Préciado, 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’assemblée” 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

– Pre-Raphaelitism

– Queer approach

– Augmented body

– Science fiction

– Care of the future

Version Française

Floryan Varennes est un artiste dont l’œuvre se situe dans une temporalité entre médiévalisme et science-fiction. Son univers visuel, paré d’armures, de matériel médical et de végétaux, nous offre d’autres possibilités pour penser les corps et les manières d’en prendre soin. À l’occasion de « Violence Vitale Â» son exposition qui se déroule durant tout l’été à la Maison des Métiers du Cuir de Graulhet, il accorde une interview à Expo156. Une chance pour découvrir son travail qui convoque sans aucun complexe, des imaginaires multiples.

Est-ce que tu peux nous présenter le parcours qui t’a mené jusqu’au travail que tu produis depuis maintenant quatre années ? (différentes 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 spécialisation en sculpture. Puis par la suite, j’ai suivi beaucoup de séminaires à Paris dans plusieurs universités pour parfaire mes connaissances historiques sur plusieurs sujets précis liés aux corps dans l’art. En 2018, après 4 années d’errances conceptuelles, j’ai décidé de tout reprendre à zéro, ou du moins d’être plus radical dans ma pratique et mes recherches, j’ai ainsi commencé un nouveau Master, cette fois-ci en Histoire médiévale à Paris-Nanterre. En juin 2020 j’ai eu mon diplôme sur une figure tutélaire bien connu : Jeanne d’Arc. J’ai choisi d’étudier cette Héroïne et plus précisément ses représentations en peintures du XIXe au XXIe siècle car cela rentrait en écho avec ma pratique de plasticien sur le corps en dehors des normes et plus précisément sur l’apparat médiéval (panoplie, emblèmes, armures, armes, etc). Cette enquête sur l’image de Jeanne d’Arc dans les Arts visuels du XIXe au XXI siècle, m’a permis d’analyser un ensemble d’œuvres bidimensionnelles qui ont figuré sa vie, sa physionomie en transition et son équipement, tout en questionnant les représentations de genre de la jeune héroïne. J’ai fais cette recherche transdisciplinaire historique, pour conjuguer médiévalisme et histoire de l’art à l’aune d’outils critiques liés aux études de genre, et ce dans une nouvelle perspective liée à ses représentations. Ce fut un travail long, très 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.

Parallèlement durant ces trois dernières années, mes investigations se sont précisées sur ma relations aux corps appareillés – Human enhancement au travers d’univers curatifs à l’ère du techno-enchantement (corps augmentés, science prothétiques, technologie curatives, attention à la vulnérabilité etc). J’ai du naviguer entre mes recherches historiques, ma pratique et mes investigations sur l’univers médical assez complexe. Pour parler du travail, j’ai des phases très définies, des étapes de recherches intenses sur mes thèmes de prédilection et d’autres de pratique en résidence. J’ai la particularité, pour le moment, de ne produire que pendant que je suis en résidence artistique, cela me permets d’être frénétique/abondant dans ma production et placide/concentré dans ma phase de recherche.

Quels sont les mots que tu utilises pour présenter ton œuvre, comment la définis-tu ?

Alors, d’une part je dirais, sculpture, installation, bas-reliefs, tridimensionnalité et volume pour le medium utilisé. D’autre part, mon travail parle du corps, des corps dans une acceptation générale, sans jamais le montrer ni le figurer directement. Par un système métonymique* je m’attelle toujours à le représenter par des éléments qui le compose, son apparat, son appareillage et ses emblèmes liés à sa parade, et de plus en plus de dispositifs qui mêlent le tout avec de puissante ambiances olfactives. Ensuite, l’Histoire médiévale et ses échos jusqu’à nos jours compose un noyau de recherche continu dans ma pratique, toujours liée à des lectures, des conférences, des investigations, des documentaires, des films, des séries qui transparaissent dans ma pratique… enfin quelques mots sur mon intérêt sur des futur spéculatifs qui s’ouvrent à nous et plus précisément celle de la sphère du soin dans une compréhension large. Il s’agit de réfléchir au soin, à la protection, à la réparation, à la transformation et à la guérison, inséparables de leurs états gémellaires « jumeaux Â» généralement liés à des persécutions ou des violences éparses. Je mêle pour ainsi dire ainsi de manière ambivalente des représentations liées à la violence à 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 actualité artistique est marquée par Violence Vitale, une exposition monographique au Musée des Métiers du Cuir de la ville de Graulhet, qui fait suite à une résidence* que tu y as effectué au printemps 2021. Comment est- ce que tu situes les nouvelles pièces que tu vas y présenter, et produites à cette occasion, par rapport à ton œuvre ?

Cette résidence 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 à Z. Grâce aux savoirs-faire liés aux métiers du cuir dans leurs ensembles, des choix de peaux jusqu’à la maroquinerie, j’ai ainsi pu me « surpasser Â». En cela, ma production est devenu plus excessive, plus démesurée, faite d’ambiances immersives et d’installations assez sophistiquées. J’ai aussi eu la chance de pouvoir exposer dans un musée imposant sur plus de 300 mètres carrés, j’ai pu prendre des risques dans l’accrochage, dans le parcours scénographique et la mise en lumière. De plus, les pièces produites sont dans la continuité de mon parcours mais prennent une tangente radicale. J’ai pu renouveler mon socle théorique en allant vers un questionnement fractionné sur la temporalité, je suis arrivé à des croisements que j’ai toujours essayé de toucher. En lien avec des échos de l’époque médiévale mais combinés avec une esthétique et des aspects de mon travail plus futuristes, plus cyber-fictionnel. J’ai pu y atteindre ce but grâce à mes dernières recherches sur les médicals pods [appareillages médicaux destinés à régénérer les corps]. Avec mon installation Hildegarde, j’ai pu créer des liens entre des armures médiévales, des lits d’hospitalisations futuristes et joindre ainsi toutes investigations sur la panacée. Ce remède universel qui aurait la faculté de guérir n’importe quelle maladie et de protéger le corps de toutes agressions. J’ai pu élaborer une nouvelle installation aux croisements de ces champs de recherches transposant alors le tout en sculptures/civières matelassées de cuir blanc et pelliculées d’un traitement antibactérien. Disposée en cercle dans une des salles de l’exposition, cette pièce est pour moi la traduction du titre de mon exposition : Violence Vitale.

*dans le cadre du dispositif appelé « résidence d’artiste en entreprise Â» du Ministère de la Culture.  

Il y a dans cette exposition des pièces, comme « Sursum Corda Â» ou « Hildegarde Â» qui semblent émerger de l’obscurité dans un environnement que l’on pourrait qualifier de « brut Â» . Comment cet environnement entre en résonance avec ces pièces ?

J’aime les jeux de lumière, et les mises en espace élaborées et ces deux installations s’y prêtent. D’un coté des diagonales iridescentes de Sursum Corda et de l’autre des blocs blancs satiné de Hildegarde semble effectivement émerger par la mise en lumière. Plus encore, c’est un jeu de reflets et de matières que je mets en place, l’obscurité permet des focus avec les rails de lumières, et une certaine tension dans l’espace. De surcroît, cette mise en lumière ciselé crée une atmosphère ambivalente, d’un coté il y a une sensation de confrontation car les pièces sont frontales, et de l’autre il y a une ambiance exaltante, car les sculptures sont baignées d’une lumière zénithale. La mise en espace, c’est aussi un jeu entre les œuvres et le public, passer d’un espace plutôt sombre à un espace clair crée une histoire. La lumière c’est aussi de la narration dans une exposition.

Il y a une hybridation des temps qui s’exprime dans ton œuvre, qui trouve un ancrage dans le médiévalisme et la science-fiction. Quel rôle joue la temporalité dans ton travail et où cet intérêt trouve-il son origine ?

Je suis un enfant des années 90, j’ai été abreuvé très jeune de références éparses qui m’ont façonné, deux trilogies ont été révélatrices de mes préoccupations artistiques Le seigneurs des anneaux et Matrix, à cela s’ajoute plusieurs autres références 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 études, et maintenant encore. Ainsi mes recherches articulent plusieurs temporalités, en premier lieu les échos du Moyen Âge que l’on retrouve de nos jours dans plusieurs types de productions. C’est ce que l’on nomme médiévalisme, (ou survival ou medieval revival) et c’est ce qui correspond à un ensemble de manifestations artistiques, politiques et culturelles élaborées dans une volonté consciente de recréer ou d’imiter en tout ou partie le Moyen Âge. Mon but n’est pas de reproduire cette époque, mais plutôt de percevoir certaines analogies avec notre temps et certaines polarités.C’est ainsi que je présente et j’utilise le Moyen Âge comme une altérité radicale à notre temps. Il fonctionne pour ma part comme une modalité heuristique, un comparatif qui nous permet de percevoir, sous certaines catégories figées, les dénis, les compromis et les avancées de notre civilisation occidentale. A cela s’ajoute des rapprochements et des oppositions, nous les retrouvons aussi dans certaines productions sur les futurs spéculatifs avec la science-fiction, ou du moins la science tout court, avec des systèmes de répressions ou de guérisons qui en émanent. Comme je l’ai distillé précédemment je m’intéresse beaucoup aux augmentations et aux renforcements corporels ainsi qu’à différents types de médecines. J’essaye alors de joindre – aussi bien dans l’esthétique que dans les concepts – ces deux types de temporalités dans ma production.

Cet ancrage temporel, te permet de s’inscrire dans des imaginaires parfois nés dans d’autres sphères artistiques, et dans leurs esthétiques. Quel est ton rapport avec l’esthétique et le Beau, comment tu parviens à en faire une armature qui structure ton œuvre, une arme qui produit du sens ?

Les rapports de beautés dans l’art sont complexes, généralement (indépendamment des situations géographiques) cette tension provient de l’histoire de l’art et des écoles d’art qui perpétuent certains schémas, et ce qui est beau, ce qui agréable à l’œil car parfois trop séduisant est rejeté, interdit ou mis de côté. En échappant cette fois-ci aux grandes traditions philosophiques liées à Kant ou Hegel sur le beau, la post-modernité entretient des liens ambiguës avec ce qui peut être qualifié de beau, et tout vole en éclat. 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 déborder sur la forme. Il faut pourtant définir ce qu’on appelle le mot beau, pour ma part je parle en premier lieu de rapports dichotomiques de séduction et d’aversion, la « beauté Â» de mon travail réside dans son ambivalence, c’est qui se passe au travers de mes thèmes de recherches plutôt violents, agressifs ou bien dérangeants mais que je traite avec des matériaux fragiles, doux, éphémères ou salvateurs… Ces matériaux ont diverses qualités, il me permettent d’avoir plusieurs types d’effets, de la transparence, des reflets de lumières, des brillances, et cela du verre au cuir iridescent, des perles aux rivets en passant par des tissus high-tech comme des velours ou polymères médicaux, mais aussi de l’acier chirurgical, jusqu’au végétaux séchés qui transposent des idées plus délétères de la beauté. Pour finir, je parle souvent d’extrême esthétisme, j’essaye de pousser au maximum cette notion à son paroxysme.

Quelles sont les personnes (artistes, auteurices, curateurices etc….), avec qui tu te trouves une affinité dans ta démarche ?

J’ai plusieurs affinités et sources de recherches pour alimenter mon travail, j’ai des références artistiques très abondantes avec lesquelles j’entretiens des liens intimes. D’une part avec des artistes anciens qui sont liés à une période que l’on nomme le Gothique International, je prends souvent comme exemple les Frères de Limbourg, Simone Martini ou bien par la suite Enguerand Quarton, Jêrome Bosh, Albrecht Durer, Jan Van Eyck, mais aussi John William Waterhouse et mon amour absolu pour les symbolistes et les préraphaélites (Millais, Rosseti, Burnes-Jones…), qui à juste titre, sont mon terreau esthétique. 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 Lévy, ou bien Violet Chachki et Alexis Stone… J’aime quelques créateurs de mode comme Alexander McQueen, Mugler, Robert Wun ou bien Iris Van Herpen. Et enfin quelques animés, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Le voyage de Chihiro, Vampire hunter D : Bloodlust, Grimgard ou d’autres jeux vidéo comme Halo, Fable ou les Elder Scroll.

Niveau théorie je m’appuie beaucoup sur de lectures historiques comme celles de Jacques Legoff, Michel Pastoureau ou Vincent Férré ; Philosophique ou psychanalytique avec Paul Préciado, Donna Haraway, Susan Sontag, Joan Tronto, Paul Ricoeur ou encore Carl Gustav Jung. J’ai des affinités plus profondes avec d’autres champs de recherches et je ne me limite pas à des sphères artistiques, je puise aussi mes recherches dans ce qui représente et actionne historiquement le corps comme l’héraldique, l’armement médiéval, la chevalerie militaire, les systèmes armoriaux , mais aussi ce qui le soigne ou l’augmente à comprendre comme une anthropotechnie, tel que les sciences biotechnologiques (et la bioéthique), la phytothérapie (nootrope), la pharmacologie & toxicologie, le biohacking, les systèmes orthoprothétiques, les exo-armures, la chirurgie robotique…

Il y a une utilisation récurrente du végétal dans tes pièces, et en particulier de la lavande, mais aussiles chardons dans « L’assemblée Â» ou les épines de prunus dans « Gothic my Love Â». La végétation qui joue aussi un rôle clé dans l’articulation des thématiques qui te sont chères notamment de par son rôle dans le soin des corps au Moyen-Age.  Est-ce que tu peux nous en dire quelques mots ?

Les végétaux sont arrivés assez tardivement dans ma pratique, et sont révélateurs d’une nouvelle branche du care (prendre soin) que j’explore. Il y a une bicéphalité dans mon travail sur la notion de soin dans sa globalité, d’une part parce que j’utilise des instruments chirurgicaux, des outils, tissus et polymères high tech médicaux, mais d’autres parce que j’essaye aussi de manière invisible d’opérer un véritable travail et une certaine logique de la sollicitude et de la vulnérabilité, et du rôle du soin de manière forte dans mon travail. Les végétaux ont une place de choix dans mes recherches, ainsi il créent du lien social mais aussi temporel car ils ont une affinité directe avec le Moyen Âge, j’utilise beaucoup de plantes qui ont trait à cette période (que l’on retrouve dans les manuscrits, tapisseries, armoiries, mais aussi codex médicaux etc). Les végétaux que j’utilise ont des effets phytothérapeutiques démultipliés. Je les appelle les super-végétaux, je les utilise dans mes installations pour marquer le temps, l’espace et les sens. Bien sûr je m’intéresse aussi à leur olfactivité et surtout leurs propriétés prophylactiques incroyables.

Par exemple la lavande, une plante que j’emploie beaucoup avec les chardons ou le lierre est une pièce maîtresse dans mon parcours, et je l’utilise tout le temps séchée. Son importance thérapeutique, purification et assainissement sont deux caractéristiques inscrites dans le nom même de la lavande. En effet, son nom latin – lavandula â€“ est issu du latin lavare, signifiant tout simplement laver. De plus ma très chère Hildegarde de Bingen expliquait que: « La lavande est chaude et sèche et sa chaleur est saine. Si on fait cuire de la lavande dans du vin et qu’on en boit souvent tiède, 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 considérables, antiseptiques, anti-inflammatoires, antispasmodiques ainsi que celle, antalgiques, mais aussi cardiotoniques, anticoagulantes, cicatrisantes, et régulatrices du système nerveux central : calmantes, sédatives, anxiolytiques, antidépressives, neurotropes, musculotropes… bref un cocktail auquel nous pouvons y adjoindre des souvenirs « aromathérapeutiques 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 médical et de manière plus générale au soin, comment-est ce que tu estimes que la notion de Pharmakon, particulièrement chère au philosophe Bernard Stiegler, fait corps avec ta démarche ?

Oui les corps ne sont pas présents mais montrés de manière détournée, comme je l’ai expliqué, jamais frontale toujours explicitée par une batterie d’éléments qui l’augmentent ou l’appareillent par sa parure, son armature et sa parade (qu’elle soit nuptiale ou militaire d’ailleurs, voir même le mélange des deux). De surcroît, je porte une réflexion plus générale sur l’ambivalence des affects, des ressentis et le refus d’un partage binaire entre plaisir et peine. Cette pensée se concrétise dans ma production de sculptures et de dispositifs duplices, qui mêlent le vocabulaire de la guerre et du champ médical pour mieux réévaluer 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 à la fois poison et remède, il est à la fois ce qui permet de prendre soin et ce dont il faut prendre soin, au sens où il faut y faire attention : c’est une puissance curative dans la mesure et la démesure où c’est une puissance destructrice. Cet Ã  la fois est ce qui caractérise la pharmacologie qui tente d’appréhender par le même geste le danger et ce qui sauve. Â» C’est un processus d’attaque et d’auto-défense en même temps, des états et des temporalités contraires que j’aime réunir dans mon travail, et que je fais maintenant de manière totalement inconsciente : des armes en verres fragiles mais agressives, des civières matelassés aussi douces que hiératiques, des étendards qu’on ne peut facilement identifier, des panoplies mêlant des objets médicaux qui écartent les chairs tout en les soignants, des drones armaturés et translucides ou bien un parterre de fleurs de lavande qui agresse les sens tellement l’odeur est quasi insoutenable. Le pharmakon est au cœur de ma réflexion, mais décliné de tels sortes, que plusieurs types d’antinomies (temporelle, matérielle, 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 résister à toute explication et assumer un part d’obscurité, de mystères ?

Je ne parlerais pas de mystère, mais d’un discours qui nous échappe, et c’est tant mieux. Tout ne doit pas être expliqué, même si j’ai tendance à le faire car je conceptualise (trop) mon travail. Mais il me semble qu’apprécier une œuvre – en général – pour ses qualités esthétiques, relationnelles, contextuelles ou bien formalistes est la moindre des choses à faire. Une œuvre a aussi des qualités émotionnelles, on a tendance à l’oublier dans l’ère du digital, et de la fast culture, une œuvre qu’importe son médium et sa taille elle peut nous faire vibrer – si un tant soit peu nous la voyons IRL. En somme si une œuvre est ineffable c’est déjà un bon début, le reste suivra.

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

Niveau projets, je viens de rentrer dans une galerie à Paris, je vais voir ce que l’avenir me réserve, j’ai plusieurs expositions collectives qui arrivent avec des résidences. Le schéma classique diront nous, mais pas que. J’ai en tête aussi depuis quelques mois de créer une fragrance, ou du moins une œuvre olfactive, qui pourrait être vendue comme un parfum, à base de lavandula angustifolia, d’encens, de benjoin mais aussi d’odeur plutôt froide, métallique, voire même repoussante. Enfin, l’idée du professorat fait son chemin, dans une école d’art, ou dans d’autres sphères qui me sont proches. Et je souhaite être plus engagé dans la jeune création française et européenne en aidant le plus possible les jeunes artistes à comprendre la complexité mais aussi le foisonnement du maillage artistique contemporain.

Pour aller plus loin :


– Approche queer

РCorps augment̩
– Science fiction
– Soin du futur

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’assemblée” by Floryan Varennes // Image de couverture : “L’assemblée” par Floryan Varennes


“Violence Vitale”, is open to the public until 03/09/21 at the Maison des Métiers du Cuirs in Graulhet. // “Violence Vitale”, est à visiter jusqu’au 03/09/21 à la Maison des Métiers 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 sélection visuelle réalisée en collaboration avec Floryan Varennes.



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 cliché !  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 (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:

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’Odyssée 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 ? 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 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 cliché “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.


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 🦑



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/Heroïnes) 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 Mystères du Château de Dé” 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 cœur” 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 réalisé par l’artiste Valentin Ranger. Ce film nous présente une balade poétique virtuelle dans les murs de la villa Noailles, autour d’une profusion d’installations sculpturales et théâtrales, des métamorphoses célébrant la diversité des corps, l’Amour et la fragilité des fleurs. J’ai eu envie d’échanger avec Valentin sur son film car j’ai été émue par cette œuvre, par sa douceur, sa beauté graphique hybridée, 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 travaillé dans le théâtre avant de rentrer aux Beaux-Arts de Paris. Mes supports varient entre la 3D, l’installation et le dessin. Mes recherches évoluent à mesure des compréhensions sur le fonctionnement du corps et ses interactions avec son environnement à un niveau quantique et macroscopique, charnel et spirituel. La 3D me permet de construire un écosystème qui célèbre nos mutations, notre fluidité et nos capacités à nous connecter à des nouveaux récits, habités par des interrogations post-humaines et anthropologiques.

Suite à une résidence que tu as effectué à la Villa Noailles au mois de Juin 2020 tu as réalisé le film intitulé « Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs Â». Comment s’est déroulée la résidence, et la création de ce film ?

Je suis allé à la Villa Noailles pour travailler sur une exposition (Héros/Heroïnes) où j’ai réalisé des dessins. L’exposition était un vrai témoignage de la solidarité et l’amour qui réside à l’intérieur de la Villa Noailles. Pendant cette résidence j’ai pu découvrir une architecture incroyable, mais surtout une équipe solaire, généreuse et très inspirante. C’est un lieu d’une force créatrice immense. La région est magnifique, la végétation luxuriante, tout amenait à la contemplation et au rêve.

Il y a dans ton film une invitation au lâcher-prise, une poésie très réconfortante. Il semble s’inscrire également dans une forme de surréalité. Il y a la présence de Marie-Laure de Noailles, qui fut une soutien du mouvement Surréaliste. Elle apparaît d’ailleurs dans « Les Mystères du Château de Dé Â» de Man Ray tourné à la Villa Noailles en 1929. La Villa est comme transfigurée dans ton film, baignant dans l’art et la végétation. Comment la figure de Marie-Laure de Noailles et l’architecture de sa villa t’ont aidé à construire des paysages visuels apaisants, riches de beautés et de symboles ? Quel sens est-ce que tu donnes à toutes ces visions ?

L’architecture du lieu, pensée par l’architecte Mallet-Stevens s’inspire fortement d’un navire que j’ai voulu repenser comme un navire volant à travers le cosmos.  J’étais très inspiré par l’influence de Marie Laure sur Dali, Man Ray, Brancusi et Cocteau. Il y a beaucoup d’amour à l’intérieur de ce lieu, une célébration des fleurs à travers les jardins, une tolérance pour les beaux rêves.

C’était l’endroit parfait pour raconter la création de nouvelles formes de corps, lié à notre image puissante et sensible des fleurs, à leur diversité. Je voulais imaginer une nouvelle forme de reproduction poétique et sensuelle, la naissance d’une nouvelle espèce liée de ces nouveaux liens. Concentrée sur la tendresse, vulnérable mais forte.

Tu utilises la modélisation 3D non pas comme un moyen de représentation réaliste mais plutôt comme un prolongement de ton univers plasticien. On le voit avec l’intégration de tes dessins floraux ou encore par exemple avec les laboureurs du cœur qui de par leurs corps, leurs textures évoquent 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 liberté qui accueille directement nos instincts et parfois nos fragilités. Il y a une ambivalence qui existe à l’intérieur de ce film où les sculptures ne peuvent pas vivre mais essaient pour autant de délivrer un message d’amour. Les créatures sont protégées de la construction profonde que nous avons de nos représentations du corps. Ces corps sont plutôt des métamorphoses de sentiments et d’affect intérieur. Les sculptures biomorphiques sont remplies de magie, de fantasmagorie, et d’intériorité assumée. Il n’y a pas de règles qui les empêchent d’aimer.

Tu évoques dans une description de ton œuvre une célébration de la diversité des corps. Quelle place tu donnes aux identités Queer dans ton travail en général ?

Grâce aux combats de la communauté Queer contre l’exclusion, de nouveaux corps acquièrent le droit de vie et d’aimer. Mais ce droit est fluctuant, les exclusions persistent et les combats sont toujours présents et renouvelés. La 3D et les univers virtuels sont des potentiels, critiques de nos mondes possibles. De nos communautés solidaires. 

La déconstruction de nos corps occidentalisés nous amène 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 progrès scientifique nous révèle 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 théâtre 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.


Joint Interview

Creatures of the Virtual Realms

Like the biogeographic realms on the surface of the earth, the virtual realms are also populated with creatures, wonderful life forms. We will discover here through the presentation of ten works a multiplicity of creators’ viewpoints and creative approaches that explore the biological possibilities through virtual technology. From Miri Poppino Kut a raindrop that came to life to fashionista nudibranchs this article will also be for you the opportunity to make amazing encounters !

Sofia Crespo

“How do we engage with the rich diversity of the natural world in virtual, digital space?

This project is part of an ongoing exploration of artificial life using deep learning to generate insects as well as their names and anatomical descriptions. The intention is to celebrate the natural diversity of insectile life, not through the precise, sterile digital reproduction of it, but in the form of new specimens that are digital natives. These do not attempt to impersonate existing insects, but rather embody an insectile “essence” born from the training of machine learning algorithms on datasets of existing insects leading to novel, non-human understandings of the natural. Their diversity and decidedly digital qualities are in complementary contrast to the unsurpassable creativity of natural selection but can act as a prism with which to approach new perspectives and appreciation of the vulnerable, non-human world we too often take for granted.”

Video credit : @soficrespo91 with @entangledothers

Jingxin Wang

“For this piece of art, i attempted to create a trapped creature which interpret the concept of “Xenotransplantation” – the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. Normally from animal to human. The singular eye is a metaphor of the vicous & selfish observation of human eyes.”

Image credit : @wjx_hasnoenglishname

Nina Muro

“Its name is Miri Poppino Kut. In the initial drafts, it was born from a drop of rain that came to life, so it was set up on a rainy, dark day. However, when creating the image I found that the rain took away from the character itself and it was better to set it up in a neutral environment, so it lost a bit of its origin story. We could say it’s a drop of morning dew that came to life, through a chemical reaction maybe, or perhaps just magic!” 

Image credit : @nninamuro

Konti Chr

“Since we know that the underwater world covers 75% of our world, and 5% discovered.
I am trying to show people they have to look deeper inside and around them to see the connection between everything. I think we are in the age of Aquarians who will pour new water that might have an exciting impact on communication and may even prove to be an opportunity to understand one another better.
 My style somewhat reflects metamorphic aliens in a hardcore way; since these things are a bit mystic, sometimes it’s hard to tell what it is indeed.I am drawing a line between anthropomorphic humans to underwater creatures. I can’t always determine how my work will look from the outside because it just comes from a recently discovered feeling. As I said, I will always be on the journey to find the deep ocean inside me and the others.”

Image credit : @konti_chr

Franco Palioff

“I have been creating creatures in different media since I’m a child. In a certain way, I think these ideas come from what was once a space of meditation, free association, and putting a special power into a thought, thing or creature in my mind, almost like an alchemic child trying to mix science with magic. Deepen into these forms and mechanisms since back then, has made me create robotic objects which I develop in parallel with figurative painting and 3D videos.”

Video credit : @francopalioff

Sukke Xu

The inspiration of this piece is came from the social media trending #sailormoonredraw, Sailor Moon is a icon of a girl’s courage, adorable but special and full of mysterious identity symbol. In a cyberpunk world, MoMo/🌙 has the shyness of a girl but the sharpness of a warrior. The tongue of the snake is tempting and deterring. This is probably a very dangerous girl, pls don’t too close.
Momo is the name of my first cat, it’s very interesting that people often say that Momo the cat looks very similar to me, so I created a character image based on our two prototypes. He/she will be braver, crazy, and cuter, #MoMo can do things that Momo the cat and I could not accomplish in the parallel world.”

Image credit : @ssuukk_ee


“With this piece, I wanted to depict a putrid & slimy creature, born to protect the path of a river leading to places currently unknown (& yet to be revealed) within the GunkVerse. Each piece I make is a bit more context to the world in which all of my characters live, & the expansion of that world is what drives me to wake up every morning & continue creating it.”

Image credit : @gunkspore

Sargon Khinoev

“I was meditating about organic and inorganic surfaces as well as aliens and xeno creatures in general, which are usually shown as something dangerous. In my opinion strange creatures are something lovely and inspiring. This was the idea behind this work: To find peace and freedom we need to accept and include the unknown.”

Image credit : @ssssskkkkkddddd

Sarah Ann Banks

“This image was inspired by tiny creatures called nudibranchs! They are sea slugs covered in bright colors, patterns, and textures. Lots of wiggly neon tentacles and polka dots. These two in the scene are alternate world fashionista nudibranchs, out on the town in their trendy outfits.

I had to make two together of course to show the unified effort to look cool and cute. I’m always inspired by nature and science and love to throw in modern elements to give the work some sense of relatability to myself and the world around me. I’m always working towards creating a dialogue between all my creations that sits somewhere between sci-fi and camp. This image to me connects what I often try to explore with my work; current trends, things I find interesting, and things that just make me laugh.”

Image credit : @ssarahbankss

Giusy Amoroso

“Nature itself is nothing else then a technology that may have been created for us; to mold us into the form and the physical shape that we are in. My artworks are fueled by the philosophical and enlightening idea that one can reach a higher form and free mind and body by creating something detached from the known. The possibility of reprogramming ourselves on a quantum level, additionally fuels the idea that our creator or creators have constructed this world for us. Equally we have the power to create worlds, creatures and entities, even identities and selves in the digital multiverse.”

Image credit : @marigoldff x @exitsimulation

Interview by Charline Kirch

Featured image credit : Nudibranchs by Sarah Ann Banks

A huge thank you to the creators who gave me some of their precious time to contribute to this article !


Joint Interview


In recent times my attention has often been focused on works that seem to converge, each in its own way, towards a point where humanity and animality cease to be perceived in a contradictory manner.

These works have a lot to say, whether it is about our cohabitation with nature, or about our identities and the links they have with our bodies.

To feed this reflection I asked three artists—Anthr0morph, Anni Puolakka and Omenmalum—how they articulate the relationship between humanity and animality in their work.


“I like to blur the lines between human and animal and reflect how biology is interconnected. We all evolved from each other and in a way are different forms of the same thing. Our DNA holds the history of so many other forms. I see the faces I create as some type of self designed exoskeleton. An exoskeleton gives shape and abilities to a body. By becoming a chimera, I explore these other types of embodiments that reflect the evolve potential of forms someone can take.”

Anni Puolakka

“In my view, humans are animals. My work reflects, amongst other issues, the need for changes in how we live amongst other species.

One of my recent projects, Oestrus, considers becoming a centaur as a way to love horses. It tells the story of a “horse girl” who has grown up to be an adult who couldn’t imagine mounting a horse. The character has physically distanced themself from horses and engages with them through fantasies of hippic transformation.”


“We are a single living organism, man is a rational creature, thinking, but sometimes you need to feel and understand that an animal is sleeping in each of us. and I give the opportunity not only to others, but first of all to myself, sometimes to release this animal outside, aesthetically, according to the connections of art, sensually, beautifully and eerily at the same time.”

Interview by Charline Kirch

Featured image credits : Oestrus by Anni Puolakka at the Polansky Gallery, Prague. Photo by Jan Kolský.



Kaan Ulgener, a biomechanical sensitivity


Of all the artists I enjoy to publish on Expo156, there is one whose work immediately sticks to our eyeballs, a bit like his extensions of metal or transparent glass which merge with the human body. This is the artist Kaan Ulgener. Originally from Istanbul, he lives and works in London. I told myself that I was going to ask him a few questions to learn more about his futuristic work with biomechanical sensitivity.


Can you define your work?

Kaan: Id define my work as heavily conceptualized, scifi influenced works for the wearable technology industry and cyberfashion/digitalfashion and there are the brutal and erotic and yet Cyborg series that I’m constantly digging in for new rigs/tools.


How do you articulate the relationship between the human body and technology?

Kaan: I’ve always enjoyed Seeing sophisticated devices attached to human bodys, a device that keeps the body parts alive in order to survive, basically an upgrade to human body that will lead to live healthier or easier than it before, and desiging this kind of concepts of futuristic objects and devices gives me more understanding of what to come in the near future of wearable technology!


Which SF artists inspire you the most?

Kaan: There are several artists has been always giving me inspirations like Hans Rudi Giger, Moebius, Hajime Sorayama but Giger is my favourite of them all. He has a super important role in my life and on my works.


(Images of H.R. Giger selected by Kaan to illustrates the interview)

What is the technical production process to create your works?

Kaan: The technical side of my works are always depending from what I do with the specific software, most of the time I start with concepting on 2d by sketching, if it makes sense or its looking fun, I start building it on 3d platforms such as Zbrush, Moi3d, Substance Painter, Blender, there are so many software for different kind of field, I use virtual reality as well, in my pipeline preferably in the making of the masks and for the real world sizing or just to see it in vr see the details or tweak the small features of the object. Rendering mostly take long because I work on high poly models however it depends wheater I use glass/liquid as they take extra time to render.


Thanks for your answers Kaan! I hope that your hydroglass creations of which you have the secret will continue to flow for a long time in our other worlds and that the metallic frames of your art will always surround our minds!


Interview by Charline Kirch for Expo156

Images credits Kaan Ulgener & H.R. Giger

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