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.