Ode to Moray Eels

Fabienne Audéoud, FSB Press, Cécile Bouffard avec Eileen Myles, Pauline L. Boulba, Claude Eigan, Gustave Girardot, Aminata Labor, Natacha Lesueur, Ingrid Luche, Béatrice Lussol, Bruno Pélassy

Curated by Mathilde Belouali
| Produced by Triangle – Astérides, Marseille, France
Until October 13, 2024

Disliked for their awkward manner, their sullen look, and their life in the depths, moray eels have a bad reputation. As is often the case, it’s unwarranted: they only attack when they feel threatened; otherwise, they’re indifferent and sometimes even affectionate. Some are born female only to become male later in life or vice versa. Due to their apparent strangeness, they are associated with Ursula, the “villain” of Disney’s Little Mermaid, in whom an unclear gender identity coincides with evil intentions.[1] It also led to them symbolize a liberating kind of life and desire that falls outside of the norm in Ode to Moray Eels (1984), writer Mireille Best’s lesbian bildungsroman.

It is not surprising that this exhibition borrows its title from a book, because it draws on the porosities and exchange that occur between visual arts and writing, both in artistic practice and in the history of places. It is based in particular on the history of an art gallery that grew into a feminist and LGBTQ+ bookstore as well as an important cultural site in Nice. Founded in 1998 by Françoise Vigna and Marie-Hélène Dampérat, the galerie Vigna, over the course of its four-year existence, provided free and dense programming, guided more by friendship and experimentation than by the conditions of its commercial existence. It reflected a generation of young artists that some linked to the studio spaces at Astérides in Marseille—which became today’s Triangle-Astérides, contemporary art center and artists’ residence[2]—before becoming a bookstore and thus an intermediary between artistic, literary, and activist scenes on a regional scale.

Triangle-Astérides, Centre d’art contemporain d’intérêt national
Friche la Belle de Mai
4ème étage, Tour Panorama
Marseille, France

Exhibition view, Aminata Labor et Pauline L Boulba, Dyke JJ Still ©Aurélien Mole