Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian presents Shiny Gold, an immersive, in situ installation-experience! Visual artist Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian accepted La Gaîté Lyrique’s invitation for its 10th anniversary and created Shiny Gold, with guidance from the narrative superpowers of Capitaine futur. This vibrant installation draws from scientific references to interweave non-linear narratives that expand the horizons of our knowledge and reimagine our techno-ecological environments. World premiere.
Science has not been given its just due by our media-driven societies, which worship the present and real-time information, but features prominently in Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian’s work. Her rococo realm Shiny Gold pairs spectacular aesthetics with a narrative informed by scientific knowledge, to recount the symbiosis of energy and lifeforms while using distortions in scale to underline our microscopic place in the universe in relation to the sun, and our obsolescent existence.
Natural history: from the solar system to the Internet
Because everything we see is a solar composition, the Shiny Gold installation-experience homes in on the unparalleled power of the star — sun-sensation, sun-sovereign, the sun as an extraterrestrial agent essential to life — and on how are ideas are formed, interconnecting all forms of energy. Monumental and fragile, the installation reminds us that before we covered our entire planet in the Internet’s electronic skin, an energy system — formed millions of years ago and governed by its distance from the sun, affected by both environmental characteristics and sudden ecosystem shifts — already rooted and connected us to plants, rocks and animals in one single space, in one single life. A life that has now reached a turning point, leaving us faced with an inescapable challenge.
A rebus of sorts
Welcomed by the glowing, wide open hands of Marie Curie, a scientific figure of modernity, we take our first shoeless steps onto an enchanted island radiating with solar light on a floor laminated with fluorescent stones. Amidst the playful mishmash of nano and macro scales, sonic vibrations and inflatable sculptures, we find giant mushrooms with properties invisible to the naked eye, a fantastical, tentacular squid, XXL organs with golden brown glints, an electric fish and a miniature ocean that form a dizzying jumble, a rebus unified and magnified by a golden hue symbolizing the awakening of the conscience and sun-soaked bliss.
An experience of belonging
As we circulate from one entity to another, from the sun to rare earths, from water to air, from intestinal microbiota to natural radioactivity, from mycelium to marine bacteria, we feel an astonishing experience of belonging to the giant body of Shiny Gold, which is vegetal, mineral and animal, moving and powerful but also precarious.
Curated by Jos Auzende
Production : La Gaîté Lyrique, 2022
Nelly Ben Hayoun
London-based French visual artist Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian is guided by an insatiable thirst for playfulness and transformation, patchwork and the demystification of knowledge. She seeks to ensure her work is within everyone’s reach.
A product of her generation and era, she works with whatever she comes across, including by chance. She’s a product of schools, as well: first in Paris, as a textile design graduate at ENSAAMA-Olivier de Serres (École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art), and then at the Royal College of Art in London, where she studied design interactions and laid the foundation for her own relational aesthetics, which combines colorful vocabulary with a vivid non-linear narrative steeped in scientific knowledge. Always juggling several projects at a time, Nelly Ben Hayoun invents worlds for entertaining experimentation that draw from her obsessions: family ancestors and independent, universal women (Hannah Arendt and Marie Curie, notably), the moon and the sun, talismanic materials and golden charms, teamwork and mindset. Nelly Ben Hayoun navigates between different universes with the same explosive creativity, from NASA to La Gaîté Lyrique, Singularity University and MOMA.