Prune Nourry’s Terracotta Daughters / Earth Ceremony

Prune Nourry’s army of Terracotta Daughters is being buried in mainland China this week. The burial follows a performance entitled Earth Ceremony, in which participants become eyewitnesses to the birth of this “contemporary archeological site.” An excavation of the statues is planned for 2030.

The 108 life-sized sculptures of young Chinese girls were presented at New York’s China Institute from September 11 through October 4 as part of the 2014 edition of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)’s acclaimed fall arts festival Crossing the Line. A feature-length film on the project will be completed in 2016.

To create the Terracotta Daughters project, the French-born and Brooklyn-based Nourry uprooted to China for a year and a half, working with local Xi’an artisans who specialize in creating terracotta soldier replicas. Emulating their style and the ancient techniques of the Chinese Terracotta Warriors, Prune sculpted eight life-size Terracotta Daughters, each modeled after a real Chinese orphan dressed in school uniform. The craftsmen became a part of the next step, using Nourry’s eight original molds interchangeably—per her instructions—to create an army of 108 life-size Terracotta Daughters.

— Natascha Bodemann

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