Heather Elder Represents
Reps Journal

From Concept to Exhibit: Andrei Duman's Organogenesis Shines in Paris

When our photographers create on personal work, it’s not common for them to envision where it might end up. Personal work is meant to be explorative, enhance their craft, and push their creativity, so a longer-term goal is not typically assigned to them. Such was the case with Andrei Duman’s Organogenesis project, created in collaboration with Nathan Sawaya, a LEGO® brick artist. The two set out to create a series of images that blend science, art, and philosophy, provoking thought and reflection on existence, and the delicate balance between life and decay. So, when Nathan’s ART OF THE BRICK® exhibit featuring an entire room of the Organogenesis project traveled to Paris as part of it's international tour, it was an unknown dream realized. 

The exhibit will be in Paris’ Montparnasse, in the former Galeries Lafayette until early summer 2024. Andrei was invited to view the exhibit as part of the pre-opening press viewing and was blown away by the scale of the room and the meticulous production done by the organizers. We spoke with Andrei about his experience and wanted to share our conversation in an effort to inspire a trip to Paris to see the exhibit in real life. And, link here for a BTS video. 

When did you first know that Organogensis was going to be included in Nathan’s ART OF THE BRICK® Exhibit?

This was certainly not the intention when we decided to collaborate on this project. However, after the third or fourth organ we created and shot together, I think we both realized this was something that could live beyond the still images. Nathan got really excited about the project and we just kept creating. Once there were numerous organs Nathan thought it would be a great addition to the exhibit. I never imagined it would be its own room in the exhibit, but I am so proud of what we created together.

What was your initial reaction to stepping into the gallery for the first time?

I was really taken by the scale of not only the room but seeing all of the LEGO® organs in the same space for the first time. They had all been in my home and studio when I was shooting the project, but to see them all displayed together alongside my imagery was incredible. These organs are much much larger than life and the gallery did a great job with lighting the physical LEGO® pieces as well as my images to heighten the impact on the viewer. I also was pleased by the precision of the floating LEGO® pieces, which was an idea I had during the photography process.

Can you paint a picture of the floating pieces aspect for the reader?

When I was shooting the images, I wanted there to be some aspect of movement. So depending on the organ, I worked with Recom Farmhouse to include a number of individual LEGO® blocks to create the illusion of movement within the still image. Once I heard this project was going to be displayed in a gallery, I knew I wanted that same feature in the physical displays. So I communicated with Nathan and the exhibit organizers to create this and when I saw it in person I was so impressed with how it came together. I think it adds a dynamic element to the pieces to enhance the experience.

What is the future of this exhibit and project?

We are in talks with other major cities to bring this to different audiences around the globe. I think this project lends itself to being on display and there are opportunities for audiences of all ages to enjoy it. The reviews from local Parisians, tourists and a number of magazines and local papers have all been really positive, so I am excited at the future of where this can go.