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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Lauric Mahé-Stephenson

Lauric Mahé-Stephenson (b. 1998) is a French-British visual artist working across moving image, photography, writing, print and digital painting. His works seek to build complex worlds where queer identity and monstrosity merge to embody a liberated sense of identity and sexuality. With a background in fashion and film, Lauric works both within experimental fiction and commercial filmmaking, creating powerful visuals and developing new pathways of expression. His BA in Film Studies at King’s College London has encouraged him to look at film and art in a more historical and sociological context, while actively engaging in contemporary debates around race, class, gender, and sexuality.

Using fantasy and folklore, his current project revolves around the creation of a corpus of Queer Fairy tales, both new and familiar, which reclaim and bend conventional archetypes. His multimedia practice enables him to develop and expand these narratives across different media, offering a varied and textured world for audiences to delve in. Throughout these works, he uses ideas of monstrosity as an empowering representation of queer identity and sexuality, thus reversing societal binaries and exploring the possibilities of limitless bodies.

A fictional illustration of the artist, Lauric Mahé-Stephenson, standing in front of a dark landscape, bare-chested,  eyes shut.

Release the Succubus! Release your demons! Release your desires! Release your love!

Throughout this year’s body of works, I want to celebrate stories of sexual awakening and gender fluidity, of limitless bodies and infinite minds that merge and wrap into one another. These Queer stories cannot be merely generated by a programme or credibly rehashed by the machine-like structure of media conglomerates. For their representation is far too limited in history to form a sufficiently large database to recombine and readapt infinitely. This is particularly striking in comparison to the abundant heteronormative romances that overflow our collective subconscious. Instead, Queerness is perceived as monstruous, a curse that one must carry with them and navigate with, and recent narratives have done little to amend this vision.

So how does one go about to create these Queer tales? To own monstrosity, for it is what allows us to live our individuality to the fullest. The monster cannot be kept in the closet and must instead be let out in the open, free to roam and thrive. For it is far too grand and animated to be tamed. Then, to write these tales, a profound work of excavation that must be carried out, with hidden narratives that have been censored, dumbed down or reappropriated. One takes the duty of a historian to correct these heteronormative mistakes. And, more importantly, these experiences must be lived and embodied to be told, testaments of their vulnerable humanity. To then open one’s heart is to share the happiness, the sadness or the anger through rich stories that might stimulate or excite another’s imagination.

Guided by the figure of the Succubus, I have spent my final year of MA excavating the fairy tales, folklore and myths that have shaped our collective subconscious, whilst also deconstructing the Christian ideology and iconography that I grew up with. The sleep-demon became an anchor point to my artistic intentions, a reminder of the queer bodies and monsters I want to celebrate and put forward. What resulted from this work is a multimedia corpus of tales, both new and familiar, which I now present to you through this online show. I now wish you an enthralling trip down the cave of the Succubus.

Warning: This section contains mature or explicit content.

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The Prince & The Succubus

The Prince & The Succubus is a direct adaptation of the tale from the eponymous book of fairytales. The piece adaptes the story to the specificities of the medium, offering a looser narrative structure more in line with experimental filmmaking. It is is a live-action silent film that celebrates the erotic and the reverie, ultimately blurring the binaries of good and evil in conventional Western folklore. Through the guidance of its eponymous sleep-demon, The Prince & The Succubus crafts a narrative of self-acceptance and inclusivity, inviting us to release our innermost desires.

With intricate costumes by Aloïse Mahé-Stephenson, Emilia Lunney and Elliott Adcock, alongside rich set-design by Lauric Mahé-Stephenson, Makiko Harris and Yu Huaixi, the film is a powerful visual feast which transports the viewer into a singular world. This is complemented by the ethereal original score by artist Jonatan Wejnold which brings a dreamlike quality to the piece.

Referencing the avant-garde movements of silent filmmaking, notably German Expressionism, the film also pays homage to the rich history of queer filmmaking, from early figures like Kenneth Anger, James Bidgood and Jean Genet, to the more contemporary works of Yann Gonzalez.

The above extract shows a climatic moment from the film where the young Prince travels to an enchanted woodlands and encounters a Nymph, hungry for his flesh. Ultimately, she notices the rose he is carrying, which contains the spirit of his dead mother, the Queen, and decides to help him in his quest. She then brings him to the Succubus who will reveal his innermost desires and awaken the Prince to his true calling.

The full film will be premiered at the artist's installation for the RCA2023 Degree Show at the Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, from July 13th to 16th 2023.

The Prince & The Succubus and Other Tales is a collection of fairytales both new and familiar, entirely written and illustrated by Lauric Mahé-Stephenson. The book aims to reclaim a history of queer archetypes from fairytales to blur the dichotomy of good and evil in Western folklore and celebrate monstrosity as an empowering part of one's individuality.

The texts are written with a creative approach, alternating between prose, poetry or dialogue, and using different narrative voices. The stories are brought to life with a wide variety of characters, from the non-binary eponymous sleep-demon to anthropomorphic bats, by way of a crafty Princess who can sew herself a new skin.

A prototype hardcover copy of the book will be presented for consultation at the artist's installation for RCA2023 Degree Show at the Truman Brewery, Shoreditch, from July 13th to 16th 2023.

An illustration of the monster, Arachne, laying in her web with her 8 arms stretched. She is wearing an elegant dress.
Extract: Arachne, illustration
A poem in 6 stanzas of 12 verses, forming a web of words.
Extract: Arachne, Poem

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A triptych of UV acrylic prints in gold leaf frames representing Greco-Roman sculptures in sexual encounters.
Triptych of Monstrosity: PragmaUV Print on Clear Acrylic, Wood Frames with Gold Leaf, 2022
A triptych of UV acrylic prints in gold leaf frames representing Greco-Roman sculptures in sexual encounters.
Triptych of Monstrosity: LudusUV Print on Clear Acrylic, Wood Frames with Gold Leaf, 2023
A triptych of UV acrylic prints in gold leaf frames representing Greco-Roman sculptures in sexual encounters.
Triptych of Monstrosity: ErosUV Print on Clear Acrylic, Wood Frames with Gold Leaf, 2023

The Triptychs of Monstrosity are a series of UV Prints created from 2022 to 2023 which use digital collage and illustration to merge and recombine Greco-Roman sculptures in monstrous shapes. Inspired by their "castration" by Western-Christian puritanism, these cheeky collages give them exaggerated genitalia and place them in erotic situations. With backgrounds that combine luscious artworks of Baroque and Rococo art, the series presents a world of vivid colours and fantasy where sexuality and bestiality merge within a multitude of bodies. Printed on clear acrylic, and using the Christian-coded form of the triptych, the series are contemporary interpretations of stained glass iconography, offering windows into an inclusive world where sexuality and gender are freed from the binary austerity of a heteronormative society.

Each triptych uses sculptures from a different city, representing London, Paris and Rome. This is inspired by the "Grand Tour", a trip undertaken by the upper-class European men when they had "come of age". This custom is overturned through irony and represents instead a queer sexual and gender awakening beyond the censorship of political and religious indoctrination.


UV Print on Clear Acrylic, Wood Frames with Gold Leaf


1 374 x 442 mm each
A deck of oracle cards laid out, with 3 turned over. They represent archetypes and characters from fairytales.
A deck of cards turned face down, with each having an eye printed on the back.

The Oracle of Queer Fairytales is an original deck of oracle cards inspired by the book, The Prince & The Succubus and Other Tales. The deck uses the illustrations from the book and draws the attention to the significance of the archetypes and characters present on each image. Loosely inspired by the Rider-Waite Tarot, the cards can be used for divination readings where the reader invites the querent to choose three cards and offers a reading based on their association. The Oracle ultimately becomes an invitation for storytelling as the reader can then offer to read a poem or text sample attached to one of the cards.