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Célia Boutilier

Célia Boutilier, doctoral student at the Beaux-Arts de Paris

Research project - 'Imaginal photography': for an aesthetic of symbiosis

It seems to me today that the question of representation (of who speaks and how this one expresses himself) actually poses the question of imaginaries, i.e., the fabrication of new fictionalities. The issue of imagination is crucial, because it opens up perspectives of therapeutic narratives. These proposals of circulation (in the making itself or in the setting in space of the creations) are multiple hypotheses of resilience. On the other hand, I have recently become interested in interdependencies in ecosystems and the principle of hybridization between species, because I believe that there is a real aesthetic, philosophical and political stake in linking Art (culture in general) to Ecology. Botanical science and in particular the concept of symbiosis seems to me to be able to achieve this necessary alliance. In this sense, I will carry out this doctoral research project in collaboration with the team of the laboratory of plant symbioses of the Museum of Natural History in Paris. In my plastic practice, making symbiotic relationships, unexpected alliances, will allow me to provoke a "suspension of evidence" which, through the intermediary of the image, will invite the viewer to share the experience of a different look. From this point on, the very nature of the perceived will be to admit ambiguity. It will be a question of "milieu" in that it takes us in its mesh. It will be a question of resisting any hierarchical placement of knowledge and exploring the plurality of deployments that they allow, substituting for the aim of unity the problematic of articulation.

Preliminary questions

  • How can symbiosis suspend the rational relation of things to each other?
  • To what extent does this suspension allow for evasion of designation and nomination?
  • How can the new representation of the world that symbiosis proposes change the way we act and inter-act?


After a DNAP at ENSA Dijon (2016), a year at the ERG in Brussels (2017), a collaboration with the fluid hydrodynamics laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique (2014-2019), I joined the Beaux-Arts in Paris (2017) to support a DNSAP (2019). Since 2016 my work has been exhibited at fairs, international events. Since 2020 it also integrates private collections.


Learn more (FR)

1 The word symbiosis defines a sustainable interspecific interaction of mutual benefit. With biologist Marc-André Selosse, I will focus specifically on mycorrhizal symbioses: those that create networks between individuals and different species, particularly between fungi and plant roots.