Alyson Sillon


By Gabriela Emilova Encheva


What immediately catches my attention before even entering the space, are the colours that shine through the opening of the room. Warm colours of purple, pink and orange light up the different elements of the installation. Upon entering, what is probably the first thing I sense is the smell in the room. It is rather soft but also strong at the same time. It feels like it calms me down while at the same time giving me some sort of energy.

What I see when I enter the room is a lot of elements placed evenly throughout the space. There are both big and small objects. On the left of the room upon entering, there is a flag hung with chains from the ceiling that says ‘BEFORE’ on the very bottom of it. The design consists of a moon symbol in black with what looks like a lotus in white on top of it. Below it lay the phases of the moon. It is hard to tell what the colours are because of the coloured projectors that light the flag but from what it looks like, the top half is blue/purple while the bottom one is orange/pink. On the ground, I can see small compositions consisting of tall, wide and unlit candles and a material that looks rather industrial, as well as some chains and seashells laying around them. These pieces can are laid all around the installation. To the right of the flag is a screen that displays a performance of the artist doing movements from Kemetic yoga that closely resemble dance moves performed at raves. It has no sound, and the music designed for the room is rather serene in itself which contrasts the active movements of the performance. However, close to this installation is another one that has loud techno music playing in the background which if the doors to this room are open, can be heard quite well. When I listened closely to the music of the other installation and watched the performance I noticed that they are in sync. It was quite interesting to observe how elements from different artworks can influence each other. Even if it wasn’t intentional.

Further, what I see next is a hanging compilation of dark blue/purple Egyptian and modern symbols arranged in a circle with one element left in the middle. Their arrangement looks like one of a clock. This installation was first exhibited at the artist’s graduation show in 2022 and for it, she provided a small pamphlet. On it, there is some information on the meaning of the symbols.

Further, what is to me the next part of the installation is a flag laid on the ground that says ‘MEDITATION’ and below it, ‘INITIATION RITE №3,’ referring to the third spiritual concept. It is light in colour. It is again quite hard to tell the original colour due to the lighting but it looks like it is light blue and has tints of pink. Above the words, there is a complex graphic that consists of multiple elements. The bottom part of it has a pink circle that looks like it would represent the Sun, and is being held by something, connecting it to a bigger structure. The top part has a moon symbol in black and an Egyptian hieroglyph on top – the ankh which is a symbol that resembles a cross but has a circle at its very top instead of another vertical line. In ancient Egypt, it has been used as the symbol of life. The design that connects them looks very light and angelic, symbolising harmony. Further, the structure in between resembles a scarab which is again another reference to ancient Egypt. Around the flag, there are more candles, small pieces of chain and the industrial-looking element previously mentioned. It looks like a centrepiece in a temple. To the left of it, I can see some ceramics that seem to have two of the symbols from the compilation of elements arranged in a circle. They are also accompanied by a short text. One of them is the symbol of Ego Death and the other of Revival. They are again hanging from the ceiling by chains, and in themselves are also connected. Ego Death is hanging above Revival, perhaps symbolising the order these two occurrences follow. The last element of the artwork is another flag hanging from the ceiling by the same material as all the previous ones. However, contrasting to the first one, this says ‘AFTER.’ Its colours are mostly pink and orange and similarly to the ‘MEDITATION’ one, it looks very serene, and the design is again quite harmonious. What is portrayed is what to me looks like two small human figures sitting on the ground with their arms up and a huge sphere that is the Sun which looks like it has two wings on the side. It is a completion of the circle this installation displayed.

What this artwork made me feel was curiosity. I was curious to observe all the small elements, to watch the performance, to know what the Egyptian hieroglyphs mean and to understand how they all connect. Walking around the installation felt rather peaceful as the music inside was calm and collected but at the same time energetic because you get inspired to learn more and more.


Alyson Sillon (she/her), born in 1997 in France, has been passionate about graphic design and fashion as an art form and has experience in both. The artist studied Fine Arts in Toulouse, France where she felt rather conflicted about the structure of the program. Three years ago, she moved to the Netherlands and graduated from The Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam where the artist followed a program that was better designed for her interests and needs. She is most passionate about installations and performance art. Alongside her career as an artist, she has also been a freelance designer and a styling assistant for the German magazine Acthung in her home town Paris.

In an interview, I had with the artist, Sillon shared that she has been passionate about music since a young age because her parents would always play different music in their home. At the age of 17, she went to her first rave which sparked something in her and further inspired her artistic career, as observed in ‘before/after’.


In the interview, I asked Sillon to elaborate more on what the ‘Before’ and the ‘After’ represent for her. According to the artist, they are two different “ritual moments” as she described them. While the before is the time before the event when you are gathered with your friends, getting ready and having conversations, the after resembles the time after the rave when you are still in this adrenaline rush and are looking for ways to prolong it.

“Those words also refer to me as a transformation, we are a different person before and after the rave.”

For Sillon, the before and after represent the different dynamics before and after the event, as well as the internal human state during them. Another concept for the artist is the symbolism behind the Before and After. The Before is represented by the moon because according to the artist, it marks the beginning of the night, whereas the after is represented by the sun since raves end at about the same time the sun rises. The artist further discusses that she decided to put them in opposite corners of the room to create a rather in-between space where the repressed body can finally be freed.

The artist’s research on techno music led her to the discovery that techno has in fact black roots. She found out that there is a practice of Kemetic yoga in the region of Sudan in Africa. This was very influential to the artist and her research as it represented the relationship between the body and mind as she perceives it.

“If we consider that the mind is our emotions, then it’s the same as our body since emotion is nothing less than hormones. I want to share with my project that we basically have all the power within ourselves if we dare take time to look deeper in ourselves.”

According to the artist, the mind and the body are inevitably connected and through her practice of going to raves without drinking alcohol and using drugs, she created a connection with club dancing as part of well-being.

The artist also shared in our interview what the smell in the room is actually made out of. The candles from where the smell comes are part of the second spiritual concept ’Space Cleansing’. After doing research, she found out that the smell of burning scent is quite common for cleansing spaces and decided to implement it in her installation. Sillon finds scent to be very influential for memory and wanted to find a way to capture the smell of a techno party which to her is a mixture of the smell of beer, sweat, cigarettes and Red Bull. How she did that was by cooperating with a perfumer from IFF, Shinichiro Oba. Together, they created a scent that is supposed to wake up your mind for the night that is yet to come. It is a mixture between an incense stick, warm amber, the wellness smell for which they used tiger balm menthol camphor scent and techno smell – sweetness of Red Bull, smoke of cigarettes and a few sweaty notes.

As an art director, collaboration is very important to the artist. She sees it as an opportunity to combine talents for creating something bigger. Important collaborators and contributors for her project are Joel Harder, Lisa Tabord, Eljesa Beka, Shin Oba, Alec Mateo, Natalia Ruhe, Liane and Alaa Amaar.

Photos by Tom Meixner