Serendipity

By Prune Nourry

USA | In English, French and Mandarin with English subtitles | 2019 | 74 min 48 sec | NC16 (Nudity)

 

What is the role of art in human illness and suffering? Serendipity addresses this question through a dive into the life and work of multi-disciplinary artist Prune Nourry. Filmed by Nourry herself, it shows how she embraces the elements of chance and uncertainty in her practice.

Many of Nourry’s earlier works explore issues pertaining to the body, including genetic selection and gender bias. However the shock of Nourry’s own breast cancer diagnosis made her practice more personal, forcing her to turn her gaze inwards. She documents her treatments—mastectomy, chemotherapy, acupuncture—as well as her struggles with panic attacks and loss with intense vulnerability. In the process, Nourry translates her pain into material for artmaking. Her new artworks testify to the profound beauty in deep brokenness. Among them are Catharsis—a sculpture series that began with The Amazon (2018), a monumental concrete sculpture of an Amazon woman with her torso pierced with incense sticks that allude to the paradox of healing during the process of acupuncture—and Serendipity. 

Serendipity is based on a book published for Nourry’s solo show in 2017 at the National Museum of Asian Art—Guimet in Paris. Made with the support of all who journeyed with her— including executive producers Darren Aronofsky and Angelina Jolie—the film was selected for the Berlin International Film Festival, MoMA’s Festival of International Nonfiction Film and Media, and Art Basel, all in 2019.

The screening on 23 July is reserved for Gallery Insiders. This film is also available for online viewing in Singapore, during the festival period 2-25 July 2021.

Prune Nourry (b.1985, France) explores the issue of bioethics through sculpture, video, photography, and performance. Her  work has been exhibited internationally at spaces such as Centre Pompidou. Backed by in-depth research and largely influenced by anthropology, her landmark projects about gender bias began in India with Holy Daughters (2010–2011) and Holy River (2011–2012). The third part of the project, Terracotta Daughters (2012-2030), consists of 108 life-size sculptures of young Chinese girls modelled after the ancient Xi’an warriors. This work toured internationally before it was buried in 2015 in an undisclosed “contemporary archaeological site” that will only be excavated in 2030.

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