Grandfather has been missing for some time now. He began building his tunnel to North Africa years ago and never came back. We tried to follow him at one point, calling his name in the dirt and bringing him crisps in case he was hungry. A welcome center to commemorate Grandfather’s artwork – and his prodigious digging – has even been erected on the point where his tunnel was supposed to end. None of these attempts have brought him back.
Laure Prouvost’s artistic output consistently returns to themes of escape into unfamiliar worlds or imaginings of unexpected alternative environments. A strong narrative impulse propels her practice, resulting in immersive, trans-medial installations with interwoven story lines that combine fiction and reality.
Visitors to her exhibition with carlier | gebauer will be greeted by a library belonging to her conceptual artist Grandfather. Among shelves laden with poetry, art historical surveys, and literary travelogues visitors can access a secret portal that will take them into the gallery. A central element of the exhibition will be the video Into All That is Here (2015). Continuing the motif of “tunnelling” that appears in Wantee (2013) and Grandma’s Dream (2013), Prouvost’s new video takes a decidedly more sensual turn, conflating subterranean exploration with an erotic encounter. Claustrophobic imagery shot underground thus gives way to humorous, rapid jump cuts between blossoming flowers, pulsating lights, and public fountains. A series of related sculptures depicting branches and shovels teem with organic and technological prostheses: breasts, mirrors, cellphones, and mouths, to name only a few.
Sensuality meets the abject in Dinner Party (2015), a three-panel tapestry. Produced according to the traditional art of tapestry-making in Flanders, the textile depicts a riotous dinner party comprising both feline and human guests — including several manifestations of the artist herself — gathered around a tea party of dirty dishes, bespoke ceramics, taxidermied creatures, and figures borrowed from Flemish painting. Crude speech bubbles animate the scene with statements rife with double meanings: I am boiling for you, what are we digging for?, the cat will clean it up.
Laure Prouvost (b. Croix-Lille, France) lives and works in London and Antwerp. After winning the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2011, she was the first French artist to win the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013. Her work has been exhibited at the Tate Britain, London; Musée départemental d’art contemporain de Rochechouart, Rochechouart; Whitechapel Gallery, London; CCA, Glasgow; Portikus, Frankfurt; and the National Centre for Contemporary Arts, Moscow. Prouvost has forthcoming exhibitions at Haus der Kunst, Munich; Fahrenheit, Los Angeles; Consortium Dijon, Dijon; Kunstmuseum Luzern, Luzern; and Centre for Contemporary Art Laznia, Gdańsk.