Domaine départemental de Chamarande, Exposition "Salons", mai-septembre 2012, Photo : Laurence Godart.

Fleur de Lys 2009

Fleur de Lys installation focuses on the multi-faceted cultural impact and implications of man-made clouds. In this installation, the atomic mushroom cloud takes a central point as a frightening and yet highly aesthetic symbol of technical achievement. The scale model simulates a nuclear meltdown. The cooling tower of an atomic power plant dominates a miniaturized post-industrial landscape, all of which is immersed in a water-filled aquarium. At regular intervals, a slowly spreading cloud created by a controlled manipulation of liquids emerges from the tower’s chimney. A pre-programmed sound and lighting score accompanies this miniature catastrophe and the hourly simulated explosion enters the realm of the  theatrical and cinematic, through associations with Hollywood films such as Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow or Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

In Fleur de Lys, miniaturization and spectacle go hand in hand. The artists use the strategy of so-called Disneyfication. On one hand, they take the event out of its complex socio-political contexts and shrink it down to a scale that may well evoke a shudder, but certainly not panic. On the other hand, the title of the work relates to a highly topical current context. With their atomic cloud dissipating as vegetation in the form of a lily blossom—in French, “fleur de lys”, which in stylized form has been a symbol for the French monarchy since the 12th century—HeHe subtly reference France’s current nuclear policy. The atomic cloud becomes a morbid ornament and symbol for a nation that draws 80 percent of its energy from 58 reactors. The symbolic innocence and purity of the lily, which also is part of the heraldry of the Virgin Mary, is also echoed in the rhetoric of the pro-nuclear discourse, which warmly proclaims atomic power to be “clean energy.”

Made with the support of the annual stipend Edith-Ruß Hauss for Media Art Oldenbourg, Allemagne 2010-2011
Made with the collaboration of Antoine GARCIA & Jean-Marc CHOMAZ du Laboratoire Hydrodynamique (Ladhyx) École Polytechnique
Sound score composed by Raphaël Seguin.

Fleur de Lys 2012 from HeHe on Vimeo.