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Laure Prouvost

Artist 150

Laure Prouvost Fictional Identity Installation Art

Laure Prouvost (born 1978) is a French artist living and working in Antwerp, Belgium.

Her video art blends fiction and truth, objects, images, and sound into large, ramshackle Rococo realities.

Known for her immersive and mixed-media installations that combine film and installation in humorous and idiosyncratic ways, Prouvost’s work addresses miscommunication and ideas becoming lost in translation.

Playing with language as a tool for the imagination, Prouvost is interested in confounding linear narratives and expected associations among words, images and meaning. She combines existing and imagined personal memories with artistic and literary references to create complex film installations that muddy the distinction between fiction and reality.

At once seductive and jarring, her approach to filmmaking employs layered storytelling, quick edits, montage and wordplay and is composed of a rich, tactile assortment of images, sounds, spoken and written phrases.

The videos are often shown within immersive environments which comprise found objects, sculptures, painting and drawings, signs, furniture and architectural assemblages, that are rendered complicit within the overarching narrative of the installation.

She won the prestigious Turner Prize for her installation ‘Wantee’ (2013), a video-diorama about her grandfather, a friend of Kurt Schwitters, disappearing down a hole he was digging to Africa. That will be today’s focus.

Prouvost was shortlisted for a piece first shown as part of a Kurt Schwitters exhibition at Tate Britain. Prouvost was intrigued by the artist's partner, Edith Thomas, nicknamed Wantee because of her habit of asking "want tea?".

From that starting point, Prouvost wove in a fictional story about her grandfather – a close friend of Schwitters and also a conceptual artist – who she fashioned as bottom-obsessed.

Prouvost often references her grandfather, who in her fictional world once decided to tunnel to Africa through the living room floor and never came back. The story is told in a film shown in a gloomy room that could be straight out of the Mad Hatter's tea party.

Prouvost added a companion film about the dreams of her grandmother about riding a motorcycle and disco dancing that is viewed from a sloped, carpeted area.

The installation lasts around 30 minutes and accommodates only 15 to 20 people, which has led to queues. Local schoolchildren have served tea and cakes from a trolley.

"How you might relate to the past and your own grandparents is real," said Curtis. "That's why it touches people. People were responding to the ideas Prouvost was conveying – that you at once know your grandparents well and don't know them at all, like snatched memories of film clips.”

I love how Prouvost creates fictions in her art. She plays the imagination and the beauty of absurdity.


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