Imaginary Creature

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Date: 2012
Ref: 5512
Materials: 80 resin bones, wood, acrylic paint
Dimensions: 23m x 5m x variable height
Exhibition history: 2012 Lille Town Hall, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta

In December 2012, as part of Lille Fantastic, the citywide contemporary art festival attended by over 1 million visitors, Lucy + Jorge Orta unveiled their ambitious new commission Imaginary Creature. Thousands of children around the city joined together to reconstruct a fabled past in order to better envision a future.

Over the span of three months, school children across eight counties were invited to participate in archaeological digs. Each site was composed of several strata to provide a multivalent opportunity for study and learning. The first layer contained remnants of contemporary everyday life, followed by a second layer of older fragments from real, downgraded sites (including Gallo-Roman pottery and utensils). Yet beneath these layers of history lay another discovery: brightly-colored, handcrafted bone sculptures cast in resin. These bones, monumental in size (the largest measured 3 meters long) belong to a fantastical creature. The project was realized when each of the 80 sculptural bones were reunited at the Lille Town Hall, where the creature’s skeleton was reconstituted and placed on view until January 13, 2012.

Imaginary Creature was born out of Lucy + Jorge Orta’s Amazonia project and draws from their previous collaboration with the palaeontology department of the Natural History Museum London. The project brings together scientists and artists to raise children’s awareness of a shared past, both real and imagined.