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Prune Nourry's army of Terracotta Daughters on view at the China Institute in New York
Nourry’s Terracotta Daughters world tour is financed through the sale of her art.

NEW YORK, NY.- Artist Prune Nourry has brought her army of Terracotta Daughters—108 life-size sculptures of young Chinese girls—to New York’s China Institute from September 11 through October 4 as part of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)’s acclaimed fall arts festival Crossing the Line. This is the army’s only U.S. show before Nourry returns them to China, burying them until 2030 in an undisclosed location.

To create the Terracotta Daughters project, the French-born and Brooklyn-based Nourry uprooted to China for a year and a half, working with local Xi’an artisans who specialize in creating terracotta soldier copies. Emulating their style and the ancient techniques of the Chinese Terracotta Warriors, Prune sculpted eight life- size Terracotta Daughters, each modeled after a real Chinese orphan dressed in school uniform.

The craftsmen became a part of the next step, using Nourry’s eight original molds interchangeably—per her instructions—to create an army of 108 life-size Terracotta Daughters. One craftsman, Xian Feng, was invited to individually personalize each face and make every daughter unique (as was done with the ancient soldiers). He then signed them, becoming an artist himself.

Feng traveled to New York and joined Nourry for the show’s opening, which also included multi-media artworks and a 21-minute video introduction to the full feature documentary Nourry directed, entitled Terracotta Daughters. A feature-length film on the project will be completed in 2015.

The Story Behind the Terracotta Daughters is a natural continuation of Nourry’s career-long exploration of gender and human selection. Reflecting on gender preference and the demographic imbalance in China, her work began in 2012 with research at the University of Xi’an—also the location of the Terracotta Warriors. Discovered in March 1974 by farmers digging a well, the more than 8,000 warriors date back to 210 BC. Inspired by her research, Prune created an army of her own: the Terracotta Daughters, modeled on eight orphan Chinese girls she met through the non-profit The Children of Madaifu, which was founded in 1999 by Marcel Roux, former Vice-President of Doctors Without Borders (M.S.F).

Nourry’s Terracotta Daughters world tour is financed through the sale of her art. Prior to New York, the daughters were exhibited in Shanghai, Paris and Zurich—and will end in Mexico before going back to China. Through the creation of the Terracotta Daughters and the sale of its 8 original sculptures, Nourry is also supporting the education of the girls on which they were based for a minimum of three years. Each girl will also receive a 30 cm artist proof of Prune’s Mini Terracotta Daughter.

Born in Paris, Prune Nourry is currently based in New York City with a residency at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn. With a degree in wood sculpture from the École Boulle (Paris), Prune explores bioethics through sculpture, her main medium, as well as video, photography and performance. Her work focuses on the issue of human selection through science—and how artificial procreation leads us towards an artificial evolution of mankind and the consequences it entails. Through research, interviews with scientists, specialists in the field and collaborations with local artisans, Prune’s process is participatory. Her sculptures, sometimes monumental, ephemeral pieces, are the object of in situ performances where she documents the reactions of the audience. The remnants and artworks inspired by these performances are then exhibited in installations.

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