Prune Nourry’s project on recreating the famous Chinese Terracotta Warriors as Terracotta Daughters is brilliant, wonderful and the perfect political comment on the long tradition around the globe of parents preferring a male to that of a female firstborn.
In the continuation of her Holy Daughters project in India, Prune now reflects upon gender preference in China and infiltrates the local culture through the familiar symbol of the Terracotta Soldiers, by creating an army of 116 life-size Terracotta Daughters.
India and China alone represent 1/3 of the world population and both encounter a similar gender imbalance. This sociological phenomenon is due to the preference parents give to having a son. The number of single men has been increasing ever since the 80’s, and the misuse of ultrasounds to select the sex of the child. This leads to disastrous consequences for the situation of women in Asia (kidnappings of children and women, forced marriages, prostitution, population migrations…).
The work process for each one of Prune’s projects always begins with a research trip where she meets specialists on the societal subject of interest. It’s at the University of Xi’an that the most eminent sociologists study the question of gender preference in China, notably Professor Li Shuzhuo. Prune interviewed him in June 2012 during her first research trip for this new project. Li Shuzhuo initiated the Care for Girls government campaign aiming to ameliorate the condition of girls within Chinese families.
It’s also in Xi’an that are located the Terracotta Warriors familiar symbol Prune has chosen as inspiration to her project. The artist nods to the beauty and cultural richness of the Chinese artifacts dating back to 210 BC. The army, that was discovered in March 1974 by farmers digging a well, had for purpose of protecting China’s first emperor Qin Shi in the afterlife. The warriors are now a national pride, exhibited all around the world, and registered as a UNESCO site. Estimated at more than 8,000 and measuring between 1.80 and 2 meters, the soldiers are all unique.
Emulating the style and ancient techniques of the Terracotta Warriors, Prune collaborates with local Xi’an artisans specialized in the copies of the terracotta soldiers to create the Terracotta Daughters project.
Prune sculpts 8 life-size Terracotta Daughters modeled after 8 Chinese orphan girls. The clay used in the process is the same one that was dug up over 2,000 years ago for the original warriors. For this project, the artist learns the local copyists’ technique based off of the ancient practice.
Once the 8 original sculptures completed, the craftsmen use the molds interchangeably to create an army of 108 life-size Terracotta Daughters. The faces will then be individually personalized and signed by the craftsmen, as it was done with the ancient soldiers, to make each Terracotta Daughter unique.
The army, along with other Artworks derived from the project, were presented in an exhibition in September in Shanghai at the gallery Magda Danysz. The exhibition design is mostly be focused on the installation of the 108 life-size sculptures displayed in accordance to the archeological site from which they are inspired. The other Artworks include the 8 original Terracotta Daughters, bronzes, plaster molds, as well as a video – between Artwork and witness of the process. This exhibition will then be followed by a world tour throught 2014 with shows in Paris in April, Switzerland in June, curated by Tatyana Franck (Curator of Picasso at Work. Through the lens of David Douglas Duncan at the Museo Picasso of Malaga, the Museum of Art and Industry La Piscine à Roubaix, the Museum of Art and History of Genève 2012), New York in October commissioned by FIAC’s Crossing the Line festival and one last American destination in December.
Prune met the 8 orphan Chinese girls that inspired the Artworks of the project through the non-profit organization The Children of Madaifu, which was founded in 1999 by Marcel Roux, former Vice-President of Doctors without Borders. She photographed the girls during her visit of their respective villages in August 2012, and uses the portraits as models for the sculptures.
With the idea of continuity in mind, Prune works hand-in-hand with The Children of Madaifu to support the education of the 8 little girls for a minimum of 3 years thanks to the sale of the 8 original sculptures. In addition, each one of the little girls will be invited to the exhibition in Beijing in order to meet their terracotta double. The girls will also receive a 30 cm artist proof of Prune’s Mini Terracotta Daughter.
Thus, each collector who acquires one of the 8 unique original terracotta sculptures supports the project, as well as 3 years of the education of the little girl depicted in the Artwork.
Terracotta Daughters by Prune Nourry