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Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet exhibits works by Prune Nourry
French artist Prune Nourry poses on April 14, 2017 in front of one of her sculptures during the installation of her exhibition titled "Holy" to be held at the Guimet museum from April 19 to September 18, 2017. JOEL SAGET / AFP.

PARIS.- For its fourth Carte Blanche assigned to a contemporary artist, the Musée national des arts asiatiques Guimet chose to go beyond the close environment of the Rotunda (4th floor) and show the visual artist Prune Nourry’s sculptures in a poetic dialogue with the collections. Fifteen historic pieces of the museum’s permanent collection share in it.

Presented in a tour outlined in the folder, Prune Nourry’s works offer visual analogies and semantic correspondences, inviting the visitor to participate throughout the museum in an authentic reflection on the future of mankind. Arisen from a triptych of experiences in Asia, her creations – performances, sculptures, installations – illustrate ten years of the artist’s work. The tour culminates under the gaze of a monumental creation, a fragmented Buddha, in ruins, that takes over every floor of the museum.

Wandering through the different rooms of the museum we discover the fragments of a Buddha several metres high designed in situ by the artist. The huge foot, placed in the Khmer room, introduces the vertical development of the body of this Buddha, its head being on the top floor, under the rotunda. A last piece will be set up in the garden level on 21 June 2017.

Prune Nourry’s giant Buddha, a timeless figure, broken up, in ruins, echoes contemporary issues, not merely those of an intended patrimony and memory, but also of our contemporary eschatological anxieties, sometimes consumeristic. This new creation in four parts, interacting on the scale of the museum, reminds us that Buddhism, a real Ariadne’s thread leading us through the collections, is also a guide for understanding Asian art and civilisations over their long history. Prune Nourry’s work, closely connected with other scientific disciplines – here museum conservation – as well as sociological, her interest in anthropology and archaeology, bioethics – at the heart of her reflection –, challenges the artificial evolution of humans and the drifts of pro-gender selection. The Terracotta Daughters group of sculptures created in 2013, an army of 108 girls, the eight original ones of which will be shown in the museum, refers to the first emperor’s terracotta soldiers, and is a tribute to the millions of girls that will not be born because of pre-birth selection.

The humanist dimension of Prune Nourry’s oeuvre, at the heart of today’s scientific topics and debates, accompanies her works and her monumental Buddha, and is echoed in the museum collections. Last, exploring the notion of religious and prophetic geography, an important space will be given to the sacred imprint, an immaterial and incorporeal relic, intensely syncretic. The culmination of this Carte Blanche, it will be unveiled on 21 June.

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