Galerie Louis Simon
Cours de l’Europe, Royan
From June 2 to 15, 2017
Open everyday from 12h to 17h (22h on June 2)
Artworks by Sophia Lahlil: Créatures Chimériques
There exist on earth “chimerical creatures” which only a handful of people have been able to observe and which are maybe never to be seen again. We have very little information that allows us to describe them and it is only through the writings and images of these few specialists that we can guess or imagine the form and color of these strange creatures. Sometimes marvelous sometimes monstrous, red, yellow or blue, transparent or luminescent, microscopic or colossal, with wings, claws, jaws, tentacles or gigantic eyes, these creatures carry the elaborate names that men have given them: Vampyroteuthis infernalis, Enypniastes eximia , Grimpoteuthis , Satyrichthys , Periphylla periphylla …
These strange creatures looking like dragons, vampires or snakes live in total obscurity, in a world of darkness which is actually the largest habitat on the planet: that of the deep ocean. The number of species inhabiting the deep sea constitutes the greatest diversity of life forms that have ever existed. Unfortunately, because of direct or indirect human intervention these creatures, true mysteries of evolution, are under constant threat of extinction. Like the legendary beings, they belong to an in-between world, that of the real and the imaginary.
With Chimerical Creatures, the artist aims to sensitize communities on the abundance of the realm of the abyss and the need to preserve the oceans, by bringing the creatures of the deep sea to the surface of the earth in the form of a work of art. Based on the writings, photographs and scientific videos collected over the past few decades during dive expeditions with submersibles, Sophia Lahlil uses various media, such as video, hand-made toys, paintings to turn the exhibition space into an immersive installation evoking a fantastic cabinet of curiosities between art and science. Accompanied by extracts of texts describing creatures in the literature, mythology and ancient legends across cultures, the artist draws an interesting parallel between natural species and imaginary creatures; poetics of the bizarre that aims to provoke confusion, and awaken a sense of wonder and curiosity in the minds of the visitors.
When entering the gallery space, some “cages” made with some grids will be placed in the middle of the exhibition space. Inside these “cages” will be suspended representations of the deep-sea creatures in the form of toys. The artist plays on the modes of representation of the real and the imaginary: the creatures of the abyss, often defined as monstrous, will transform into adorable toys.
The circular space of back of the gallery is organized as a cabinet of curiosity where people can interact. On the wall, frames of different shapes and colors will present drawings, illustrations and texts of legendary or real beings. Mythological descriptions will alternate with scientific descriptions, creating confusion in the visitor’s mind. Some 1960s furniture, table, chairs and showcases will be installed to create a research office space where people can sit, read and leaf through texts and drawings.