Prune Nourry – Projet Phenix
In our culture, darkness is linked to the evil and the negativity and, when somehow these aspects take control of
our life, they make us metaphorically blind because they take the light from us and so, in a way, they also limit
French artist Prune Nourry lived in first person the effects of this darkness when she was diagnosed a breast
cancer and she had to undergo mastectomy.
Despite this, she found the strength to rebirth from her ashes like a phoenix, and this is where the title of her
new show at Galerie Templon in Paris comes from.
The Projet Phenix, that started a few days ago, will last till 23 October.
It’s a show where the dark is prevalent but not leading, indeed it is focused on how blind or visually impaired
people succeed to overcome their disablement.
Prune has invited eight of them to pose in her studio to create their busts without even seeing them neither
before, nor during, nor after the creation. To do this, she modelled the portraits blindfolded, reproducing faces
thanks to the touch and the hearing.
The artist talked with models during posing hours to better know them and to transpose their personality in the
In this way she did a sort of reversed physiognomic study because, rather than analysing external appearance to
determinate the character of a person, she wanted to know the personality to let it guide the making process.
The sculptures were baked following the Japanese technique called Raku1 and so they were put, still
incandescent, inside a container with ash. This powder represents the rebirth of each model who, like a phoenix,
precisely rises from his/her ashes overcoming visual impairment.
In the show at Galerie Templon in Paris, the visitors are invited to experiment artist’s explorative experience
who, during the making of the artworks, temporally deprived herself of sight.
Therefore, the public is in a dark space where it can touch the busts, hear the conversations made during posing
sessions and ‘see’ through touch the symbolic portraits of models’ hands obtained by a low relief embossing of
In the end, there’s a movie shot by Vincent Lorca during the phases of the making of this project and visible
also for visually impaired people thanks to the audio description.
With this show, people can approach to visual impairment, and they can comprehend how it only represents a
difference in the way of relating with all that surrounds us.
Walking in the dark and following a tactile and multisensorial path, the visitors can appreciate the artworks in
all their beauty even if deprived of the sight.
You have time till 23 October to live the experience of this Prune Nourry’s show, so let’s hurry!
1 The main steps to make raku ceramic:
- Bake the object between 900 and 1000 degrees for several hours
- Pull out the still incandescent piece
- Place the object in a container filled with easily combustible material (wood chips, sheets of newspaper, sawdust). The contact of these materials with the incandescent ceramic causes the ignition of a flame that burns all the fuel present in the container.
- Soak the piece in water and clean the object to eliminate signs of the burning that has just occurred.
Useful links: Prune Nourry’s website