Often referencing and involving combat weapons, surgical instruments, or coercive repression equipment, Floryan Varennes’ (b. 1988 in La Rochelle, France) works engage in a distinctive representation of violence, and present narratives of polarising forces between fascination and abjection as well as the absence and materiality of bodies.


Created during the artist residency in a French hospital, La Meute (2020) is an installation of translucent neo-medieval armours made of transparent, shimmering, indigo-colour PVC, armour fasteners, straps, and various ornaments, which investigates the notion of institutional and systemic care. In this work, armour may be a gear of protection from external violence, yet, it is also a constriction that binds the subject unconsciously in the Foucauldian sense of biopolitics that involves an internalised form of self-regulation. The use of PVC in his sculptures is not only meant to be an aesthetic decision, its transparency signifies the discarnate, diaphanous violence paradoxically suffered by queer bodies in the homonormative regime. Driving gay politics in the direction of social acceptance and integration into society as a whole, on one hand, seemingly protects sexual minorities who have longed for acceptance; however, it constitutes a homonormative privileging of the ‘good’ gays over the bodies of transgendered, non-binary, and promiscuous members of these groups, inflicting invisible pain to the periphery of the marginalised across psychic, physical, social, material, social and legal domains. Despite the societal systems and governments answering the mainstream gay politics’ demands in the name of care, what Varennes concerns with is the silenced violence that is imposed on the non-conforming queers who have even limited discursive power.


To convey the duality of violence and care beyond the concept and through the senses, Varenne created an unconventional work Millefleurs (2020), which is made of kilograms of shelled lavender from Provence, France. The installation pays homage to fifteenth-century wall tapestries and it invites the viewer to step and crunch on the dried flora, allowing the aromatic floral perfume to diffuse in the space. Lavender’s twofold attribute makes it a crucial motif in Varennes’ practice. Lavender, on one hand, has various purifying and medicinal properties, acting as sedation, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and tranquiliser; on the other hand, its overwhelming and intense aroma can irritate one’s senses. Despite the plant infusing the space in curative and prophylactic effluvia, It becomes an unpleasant stench. Through audience engagement, Varennes induces sensational bombardment to the viewer to ‘feel’ the unconscious violence stemming from plants that supposedly take care of our well-being.