NEVVEN is proud to present The Naked Girl Walking Backwards Like Crayfish a solo show by French artist Chloé Arrouy featuring a new body of sculptural works presented digitally in the off—site setting of a cavernous basement in Brussels. The exhibition is part of the NEVVEN ON SITE program.
The show takes its name from an ancient Medieval pagan ritual carried out in Europe until at least the 11th century. In periods of drought, this magic ritual entailed bringing a group of young girls led by a virgin to a meadow outside the village where the henbane plant (Hyoscyamus niger) grew. The virgin was then stripped of her clothes and ritually picked the herb, which is a powerful narcotic, together with the other girls, following specific gestures. The ceremonial was completed by bringing the virgin to a river where the bewitchment was performed, using twigs of the herb, hoping to make rain fall. Sources narrate that the sortilege was concluded then by the girls escorting the naked virgin back to the village by hand “walking backwards like crayfish.”
The show investigates the idea of pain, and in particular torture and the ancient objects crafted for such purpose. Arrouy’s sculptures explore the capacity of akin artifacts to evoke a sensation of pain in the viewer by their sheer sight, and an ontologic quality that the French artist individuates in physical and imagined suffering. “[Pain] raises some very existential questions for me: is suffering the sign of existence? In pain, we feel ourselves, physically, emotionally, is that what makes us alive?”, asks herself Chloé Arrouy and, with The Naked Girl Walking Backwards Like Crayfish, she lyrically asks us too.
Chloé Arrouy’s (France, 1993) art practice deals with the concepts of torture and magic in the popular European Medieval culture, which she uses as tools to investigate – formally and idiosyncratically – existence, sexuality and culture. Her material of choice is metal, which she rusts, burns and overworks to create ominous and fascinating objects, that often recall ritual or torture tools. She often juxtaposes her sculptures to material-based abstract paintings, installatively expanding the language of her mysterious works in metal. Arrouy holds a MFA from ERG in Brussels and has exhibited (among others) at Alice Gallery (Brussels, 2019), Jakob Kroon Gallery (Worthing, 2019) and at Biennale de Belgique (Gand, 2019). Arrouy lives and works in Brussels, Belgium.
NEVVEN ON SITE is a format of exhibitions that wants to question and expand both the classic idea of art show and the artist’s agency in the curatorial process. Using the possibilities given by the digital dissemination of artistic contents, the artists are invited to conceive not only a body of new works for an exhibition but also to define an off—site setting in which the works are installed and documented. These exhibitions are non—viable to visit in person and would be impossible to fit a gallery space. The goal is to expand the program of the gallery and the possibilities of the invited artists, specifically their control over, not only the shown works, but the very environment in which these works are presented and their perception. NEVVEN ON SITE is a regular program of 6 exhibitions per year that from May 2020 sidelines the regular events hosted by NEVVEN’s gallery space in Göteborg.