Petites Morts

The lightboxes Petites Morts stem from an ongoing collaboration with mushrooms.

Referencing the visual language of scientific and forensic photography while pointing to the reductive approach of the photographic lens, Petites Morts propose a way of seeing that is less predatory and more receptive.

In this camera-less photographic work, I act as a catalyst, allowing for biological processes to take place out of context and make their own marks on the glass surface of my flatbed scanner, thus making what could be considered as ‘collaborative’ imagery.

Through the use of the flatbed scanner, I create a blank page, a receptive space onto which fungi and intrinsic micro organisms make their own marks through touch, movement and oxygen release during an intimate encounter with the photographic device, eventually producing images of intense detail.

I am not interested in distinct imprints of mushroom gills but more in the mysterious transcripts of life’s movement…

Employing classic identification methods used by mycologists, I gather mushrooms according to their size, shape and colour from an ancient woodland in North London. I feel a particular connection to these woods, which are local to me and less popular than others due to their large crow population and the absence of a café and playground. In the Autumn, mushroom experts forage edible mushrooms at sunrise, and I pick some of what is left with gloves on, aware that it could be deadly.

Back in the studio, I position the fungus face down on the glass surface of my scanner according to aesthetic considerations and subsequently leave them to do their work. With launch mechanisms akin to catapults and squirt guns, mushrooms propel their reproductive spores over night, leaving traces of their “petite mort” onto the glass.

The spore print method is adapted so that identification is near impossible; I am not interested in distinct imprints of mushroom gills but more in the mysterious transcripts of life’s movement and representation as a collaborative act. As I remove the mushrooms’ bodies and scan ghostly imprints of their unique exhalations, daguerreotypes and associations between photography and death come to mind.

“The little deaths so recorded do indeed have a ghostly air as well as evoking the contrasting mysteries of sexual attraction and asexual reproduction. We might also be reminded of the chance processes introduced in many approaches to abstract painting, and of the frequency with which Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of ‘the rhizome’ is invoked in explaining contemporary art.”

~ Paul Carey-Kent, curator and art critic.


Nadège Meriau


Nadège Meriau


Nadège Meriau



Image credits (from top):
1. Nadège Meriau, Petite Mort II, LED Lightbox, 30x40cm, 2016
2. Nadège Meriau, Petite Mort VI, LED Lightbox, 30x40cm, 2016
3. Nadège Meriau, Petite Mort V, LED Lightbox, 30x40cm, 2016
4. Nadège Meriau, Petite Mort IV, LED Lightbox 30x40cm, 2015
5. Nadège Meriau, Petite Mort III, LED Lightbox, 30x40cm, 2016


This is part of ROT, a section of The Learned Pig exploring multispecies creativity through modest tales of collaboration and coexistence amidst world-ending violence and disorder. ROT is conceived and edited by Julia Cavicchi.


The Learned Pig


Nadège Meriau

Nadège Mériau’s experimental practice is principally photographic, but encompasses sculpture and video work. She completed an MA in Photography at the Royal College of Art in 2011. Recent shows include Fire: Flashes to Ashes in British Art 1692-2019 at the RWA, Bristol and Auto//Fiction Symposium and Exhibition at Dyson Gallery, London.