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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Anaïs Serres

Anaïs Serres (b. 2000) is a Franco-Nicaraguan artist that makes use of their background in philosophy and literature as a starting point for their research and artwork. After completing their BA in Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts in 2022, they started the MA in Contemporary Art Practice at the RCA.

I am a multidisciplinary artist using performance, installation, writing, and sound work to question and disturb language and structures. My practice often takes language as a starting point, looking into its limiting and unbinding qualities through a structuralist and post-structuralist lens. This linguistic research has led me to explore broader issues connected to systems and their successes and failures.

I aim to explore the multiplicities of things as constantly in movement and change, and not as static. Whether in communities, language, gender, or identity, I try and seek out what's in-between to understand and disrupt pre-established mechanisms. I hope to share that feeling of plurality and offer different ways of perception and being by creating liminal spaces between imagination, speculation, and rationality.

During my MA, I started looking into therolinguistics to explore non-human ways of perceiving the world and destabilise preconceived structures, using fiction and storytelling. This research was mainly informed by the Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (Vampire Squid from Hell) and its fleeting, sensuous, and passionate nature. Inspired by the humorous and fascinating propositions of Ursula K. LeGuin and Vinciane Despret on animal literature, and extended research and speculation of Vilem Flusser on said Squid, I hope to give a glimpse of it within my work and generate questioning. I utilise fictioning as a tool to bring into existence those alternatives and multiplicities to life, while also sharing the disappointment of their poor accessibility.

Artist performing. Tentacles in the background, blue and pink lighting. The artist is wearing a piece of fabric

Azure yolky droop dried up so fast in these heights

They’re not so horrorshow.

Blue fiction evaporating in a clear mist

To be inhaled

To be absorbed

So the Vampyroteuthis Infernalis can inhorb you

I am it/me/you

The visceral tendrils of the abyss

Ordealed at the surface

Corporeal fantasies 

Lyrical octoxistence

Constellations of nervy cobeings

Singular and multiple

Language anarchy in an orderless world

It bleeds on my skin

The depthless dries me up of my blues


I am it/It is me/you

Azure yolky droop dried up so fast in these heights

They’re not so horrorshow

[At the surface, there is a dying squid.

At the surface, there is an order of being. 

At the surface, there is a dying fiction.

The constellations dim until only one is left. 

Speculation is not allowed.

Absorbing the wor(l)d is not allowed. 

Being absorbed by the wor(l)d is not allowed.

Being multiple in one does not exist.

Only one truth is permitted.

At the surface, there is a dying squid.]

metal structure with fabric with agar and glue, tentacles, resin basin, blue LED in the basin and at the top of the sculpture
Meshed fabric filled with agar and glue, hanging from a metal structure. The fabric imitates the form of the Vampire Squid from Hell retracting its tentacles into itself when protecting itself.
Basin with blue LED, tentacles around it, fabric filled with agar, glue, and screwed in clay sculptures that are teeth-shaped
close up in the soft sculptures tentacles, with a small publication laying on top made with clay and transparent paper
3 copper sheets with photo etched drawings of scientific research on the vampire squid from hell
Photo etched copper sheets with drawings from a report by the Institut Scientifique de Recherche Paranaturaliste
photograph taken from the ceiling, pieces of blue gelatin hanging from plaster copper structure with four legs
Vampyroteuthis corpse (blue gelatin) on the defined foundation of its being

The Vampyroteuthis Infernalis is a squid from the abyss, living in impermanent hierarchies, ephemeral existences, and ever changing language. 

This is the tale of how it came to the surface and melted from its pressure. The depthless’ imposed rationality, truth, and orders are incompatible with the Squid and has led it to a slimy death. The love of three hearts is inadequate. It thrives in the abyss, where it wears the world on its skin, devours what it encounters, and gets devoured as well. It prospers in constant change and movement, and the surface’s urge to define and order has brought it to its fall. What’s left is its retracted tentacles, holding a nest of its fiction and poetics, standing next to its melting corpse, and the imposed definitions of its being. 

Sound piece inside the nest, accompanying the installation.
Photo of the artist performing in a Squid costume
Performance night at the Steamship curated by Layan Harman "Fleshy Wisdoms"
Photo of the artist performing in a Squid costume
Documentation by Karin Sarkizova

Siana is a vampire squid from hell that has descended from the abyss, after their world started to fracture from the surface’s pressure. They invite us to hear their story and join in the remnants of their dances and cries. 

Performance Transcript

A pool of darkness opened interrupting our dances, a pitch-black scream, perhaps silent. 

I was the universe. The Feverish beings. 

Then time came. 

I entered the black pool, leaving the shimmering colours and lights of our whirls, the timeless constellations of universes, and our cannibalistic love. 

My land is not to be described. It is meant to be ungraspable, like the murmur of the wind, the froth of the sea, the impenetrable sucking sight of the night skies. 

My language was my nerves, and theirs. I still hold them inside

I descended from the abyss and I entered the black pool.

We had no names, no language, no time. 

My waters were dense, pleasurable, slimy, loveable, orgasmic, fatal, creator and destroyer, boiling with passion and absurdities. 

This other water I swam into is tepid. Its current singular. 

I laid my eyes on a human for the first time. I had to let go of my diversities - it did not like the chaos. 

The breach opened up to the Kingdom. That's what the human called it. It called it the Kingdom. The kingdom of idolatrously worshipped notions.

The Sons of the Kingdom were too scared to disintegrate under the pressure of a reality greater than their minds, and my body lost its lights under the pressure of the imposed rationality and proclaimed truth of said Kingdom. 

I wanted to eat it all and let it devour me, but its ways are one-sided. The love of three hearts is inadequate. 

The Kingdom sucked me in its ways, traumatising my body and multiplicities, and I crumbled. It is as a pathetic ghost beyond decomposition i say those words. 

I have tried to ascend downwards again, to the pits of language and eternal existences. It seems I am stuck in the Kingdom, its rules engraved on me, the passage is now impossible for me to get through. I will melt here from incompatibility until my death.


Photograph of a blue box on a plinth. The box is slightly open and there is a strong light coming from it.
Blue wooden box inspired by Mulholland Drive by David Lynch. Contains LEDs, acrylic sheets, and the empty promise of answers and reason
Excerpt of a 10-minute video accompanying the box.

Inspired by Mulholland Drive by David Lynch, this work aims to examine the inversion of reality, of what we call the truth and fiction. The box acts as a portal filled with promises - but only offers deceit.

It's all an illusion!