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CréaTIC at the Arab World Institute (AWI): “Paroles de bêtes (à l’usage des princes)” exhibition

Inaugurating the partnership with the Arab World Institute, CEN Masters students have produced mediation videos for the exhibition which runs until 3 January 2016. If you haven’t been yet, you still have the Christmas holidays to enjoy it.

This collection of texts that give animals a voice. Through the stories they tell, these animal fables aimed to give princes the material and moral compass they needed to govern well. At that time, giving animals a voice was a subterfuge to free speech. From the 8th century, with translations in Arabic, these fables spread around East and West and reached as far as France. Around 25 of La Fontaine’s fables have been directly or indirectly inspired by this collection.

The story

Kalila and Dimna are two jackals living in the courtyard of the lion, the king of the country. Although Kalila was satisfied with his lot, Dimna, on the other hand, sought more recognition, however he could achieve it. Each of them justified their position by linking together stories depicting people and animals, and delivering guidance and morals.

Video presenting the touchscreen interface for presenting the fables in the exhibition

The exhibition route covers each of the journeys in the text, the life lessons each one provides and its contemporary interpretations. Indeed, next to the children’s books and puppet shows that highlight the fun and educational nature of moral dialogue between animals, other, more subversive, readings bring the political dimension contained in this “princes’ mirror” back to life. Contemporary artists and directors put the potential of the bestiary in the fables to good use in order to offer a critique – at times extremely sharp – of certain practices of power.

Video presenting the exhibition tool from September 2015

In addition, the exhibition raises the question of models and the fabrication of images that illustrate these fables; it also reminds us that twenty of Jean de La Fontaine’s are taken from the Book of Kalila and Dimna.