Prune Nourry, artist-in-residence at the Invisible Dog in Cobble Hill, has made a few stops along her journey to Brooklyn. From Paris, where she was born, to London, Tokyo and, most recently, Delhi, she has lured many urban dwellers toward a fixed point of interest. The streets are the building blocks for much of her artwork.
Nourry’s latest exhibition, Holy River, which opens May 12th at the Invisible Dog, reflects the relationship she has formed with the people and the streets of India. Like all of Nourry’s projects to date—always asking more of complicated topics related to bioethics—this one took years of careful research. Starting in about 2009, she spent time in India interviewing scientists, academics and locals about the preference for boys over girls in a country that traditionally worships the female cow deity as the basic source of life.
“There’s a paradox between how you can respect a symbol but not respect reality,” says Nourry. (Despite national initiatives over the last several years to support the birth of girls, India still lacks around 50 million women due to feticides.)
In 2010, Nourry placed resin versions of her life-size hybrid girl and Indian holy cow sculptures on the streets of Delhi. Crowds instantly began forming, mostly packs of men.
“They recognized this holy daughter but they couldn’t remember where,” she says. Willingly, these men and women spoke with Nourry about the issue of gender selection in India. She recorded many of the reactions.
But the project didn’t end there. When local Indian craftsmen told her they would have made her hybrid sculpture differently, she encouraged them to do so. The result: a similar hybrid girl and Indian holy cow deity. Only this one stood 16 feet high and infiltrated the Kolkata Durga festival with the deity spurred from Nourry’s imagination.
In New York, Holy River will incorporate photographs on vintage x-ray light boxes and video projections from the events that make up the October 2011 Holy River performance in Kolkata. Bronze hybrid girl and Indian holy cow sculptures will also be scattered throughout the space, and an IV-bag reflecting pool will greet guests upon entry. Nourry will use water and human hands as central themes throughout. Be warned, however, Nourry wants you to taste, smell and hear water. Like all her previous exhibits—such as the Spermbar and Le Dîner Procréatif—there’s much for the audience to experience first-hand.
Through a host of multimedia, interactive and performance-based components, Holy River will recreate a world that’s only possible today.
Studio portraits by Loren Bonner