Laure Prouvost’s work ranges freely between different systems of representation, alternating fiction, nonsense, and an imaginary, dreamlike world with the concrete reality of everyday life and human perceptions. Her projects combine a naïf, bric- a-brac aesthetic with ordinary objects and maze-like installations, as well as unstable structures and an elaborate use of technology. By sharpening and engaging all of the visitor’s senses, including smell and taste, they work to broaden the imagination and stretch the boundaries of visual reality. In her videos, Prouvost plays with the lexicon of pop music, mass culture, and internet imagery. She employs a surfeit of images, incorporates text, and uses feverish editing to alter the normal flow of the narrative, while the presence of her own voice and the direct participation of the viewer—who is pulled into the thick of it and often invited to perform actions—eliminate the conventional distance between cinematic fiction and its audience.
Laure Prouvost (b. 1968 in Yeovil, France) is based between Aruba and London. She graduated from Central St Martins College of Art in 2002 and Goldsmiths College, London, in 2010. From 2003 to 2013 she directed tank.tv, an online platform for video art. She was awarded the Turner Prize and the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2013, and has exhibited her work at art institutions around the world.
I met her inside the parallele world she created in the Pirelli HangarBicocca' Shed where we talked about Nature, languages, new technologies and woman artists...
by Federica Tattoli
Which is your relationship with Nature?
We are living this clash between super technology, glamorous plastic together with Nature. Nature is a place where you go back to basics, and you become an animal again. You have the very deep sensation surrounded by Nature, which is the essence of human and the right being, in some ways. I'm feeling right connected; I need it. It’s a complicated thing to explain, I did this film recently called Leak in the past, where there is a glamor LA teenager, which is not on this show but is really into the idea of the desire of Nature, but which such a clash with today's life... So you are waiting in the car listening to fantastic tracks and when you are in a sort of dream… what is Nature? Is a kind of dream, it’s just an ideal almost.
Is Nature a dream nowadays?
Yes, it is. And Nature is definitely part of my work. There are always raspberries in the shows because I like this idea of sensual. Here there is also like an insects which are being cocooned for all winter. It keeps, and than is coming out and its want to drink every pollen, eating every side of it, everything it can consume, and then dies. This is very very connected to Nature, I guess... and it’s only an insect and a plant, and it's also very sexual and have sided more related to human sexuality but without comparing it to in some ways…
A lovely artist called Peter Kubelka, who talks a lot about how we all learn from childhood… are not the green raspberries, is not gonna be tasteful, and then you learn, the red are the better one. It's all about tests to compare things if you have an excellent raspberry you will remember, and you will compare to every other raspberry even if, it’s in your subconscious. The same with images, you compare images with each other, with an experience you had, so with Nature is a physical side, and I use it a lot for my work.
Your relationship with new technology?
I just always used it. The video is being a very a practical tool, just have a little camera, and you can film Nature. You can eat it. You can show it back and you can eat a few flower - there is a film that teaches you how to make money eating flowers -. New technologies are so glamorous, it’s attracting, being able to capture images is quite fascinating… I just use new technologies because I live in this world now. I love the idea how you play with pictures, question images, if you put two different soundtracks you will have an entirely different feeling.
In your works you find a lot of words and phrases, could you tell me more about your way to use language?
I use words a lot… there is a lot of subtitles in my video, with them the viewers use his voice. When you read you use your voice, so you become part of it, you are a protagonist, unconsciously you put yourself in work, it’s another layer. I lived in London a long time; I was a sort of an immigrant... how do yo relate to language, how do you invents its meanings as well, you use so much imagination. Words can let you imagine things as well…
What could you tell me about the sounds, in your works?
I maybe work more on music, just because of its layers, is very subconscious.
Your work enters into a relationship with the viewer at different levels, for example in GDM - Grand Dad's Visitor Center you are like in a parallel universe, you are immersed into a world of images, sounds, texture… is it correct?
I propose different ways of looking at life or art. Is a place where you can question the way we do things and create some over realities or new realities, but it's all having a lot of basis of the subconscious, as well, of the subconscious of the museum, what the museum wants to be. Someone desire what an artist is meant to represent and this clash of amateurism; it’s my Grandma building, is not finished, it's in between, over the expected what a museum should look, is not exactly what a museum should be, the windows are fake windows…
Is it like a dream?
Yes, exactly, is Grandma’s dream. The museum is her idea as well.
Do you have reference artists, especially woman, or some woman artist that you like and you want to collaborate with?
I’m collaborating a lot with my Grandma; she is an artist, she makes pottery, she always wants let me on her show; she is everywhere I exhibit. Women artist, there are so many fantastic ones… this is a hard question, I work a lot, often with friends of mine, which are female and male, I invite different artists to show with me.
You think that to be women in the art world is harder than for a man?
No, it’s different, it's changed. It was very hard at the time of my Grandma, and Barbara Steveni. It is different stories. There are still more male artists, but I have a very supportive background. Here, for example, there is a team of fantastic girls supporting the whole project. So I don’t know enough about the big story, but I know still so much work to be done for women, especially and even more outside the west of the world… it’s still a lot of work… women sell less; there is less exhibition by women, there us a lot of issues like that, but myself I feel grateful what I'm doing.