Prune Nourry is a French, New York based multi-disciplinary artist who draws her inspiration from bioethics. Through her performances, artworks, and exhibition design, Nourry brings attention to issues that arise from our fast growing scientific discoveries. Her latest work, titled “Anima”, is an immersive installation that explores the concept of soul and “the divide between Man and Animal”, a collaboration between art, magic, and anthropology.
For nine years, anthropologist Valentine Losseau has been working with the Lacandon Maya society in the heart of the Central American Rainforest, conducting research on the representation of animal. For nine years too, Nourry has been working on the notion of hybrid and what gives us a soul. “Anima”, on exhibit at Brooklyn’s Invisible Dog Art Center, is a reflection on their travels to the forest together.
“Anima” recreates the Mayan Jungle as a conceptual experience between a group of collaborators- viewers navigate through a tunnel of wooden sticks, designed by Takao Shiraishi and scenographer Benjamin Gabrié, until they arrive at a large broken head in a pond watched over by a hologram ghost created by magician Etienne Saglio. Inside of the head’s eyes is another hologram of a dancing figure. The installation is centered on the story of K’in Obregon, a key Lacandon Mayan figure.
Animism is used in the anthropology as a term for the belief system of some indigenous tribal peoples, who view that non-human entities, such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects, possess a soul. For this community, being compared to an animal is normal. But in 1937, K’in Obregon was brought to France to be exhibited in a human zoo during a World Fair, where it was pejorative to compare him to animals on display.
“It’s this paradox that caught my attention and made us create this exhibition with Valentine,” says Nourry. “For the Mayans, there is no magic behind this. It is normality- To me, as a sculptor, the notion of soul is very important. It is when I know a sculpture will be finished. The sculpture is looking at me.” “Anima” was on view at the Invisible Dog Art Center from March 5 to April 14.