During her brief appearance in Berlin last Friday at the abc – art berlin contemporary, we caught Laure Prouvost for a surreal chat about her work showed at the fair by the gallery Carlier Gebauer. The presentation included a brand new tapestry piece, as well as a performance related to the installation.
Same as her previous work, the installation is a compound of layers of her personal and made-up history, with references to art history, internet and virtuality. The multimedia setup combining video works with objects and collage-like tapestry follows one thread of the story about Laure's fictitious grandparents; after her grandfather disappearing in a tunnel which he dug for the purpose of an art project, she tries to bring him back with the help of her grandmother. The installation is a supposed part of the centre for her grandfather's return, and the performance sort of a charity tea party collecting donations for building it. This unlikely course of events originates in the artist's Turner-Prize-winning piece, „Wantee“, with which she started this grand hommage to her made-up grandad, a conceptual artist and a friend of Kurt Schwitters.
In line with her consistent blurring of boundaries between facts and fiction, Laure kept reaching for the answers from the odd and brilliant narrative developed through her art practice. Within the few given minutes we could only get a peek into the labyrinth of parallel worlds, and merely dip our toes into the vortex of possibilities and philosophical concepts of truth and reality. If curious to dig deeper, don't miss to see her recently opened solo show at the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt *, where the entire exhibition space (and possibly beyond) is transformed into a large-scale installation.
Laure Prouvost, "behind the lobby doors, the pepper is in the right eye" @ abc - art berlin contemporary 2016
Photo: Trevor Good
From the performance by Laure Prouvost @ abc - art berlin contemporary 2016
Can you tell us about your presentation with Carlier Gebauer here at abc? We heard it is a premiere of a brand new piece of yours.
Yes, it is a premiere of this tapestry piece, which my grandma has been weaving. She lives in Lake District and she does all the tapestry for me. It is called „behind the lobby doors, the pepper is in the right eye“. We are trying to make a lobby for the future visitor centre that we will build for my grandad when he comes back, so that's why here we did a little performance, to try to raise money to make this visitor centre. That would be the welcoming entrance with a few things that my grandparents have been making with me. And there is two doors, one might take you somewhere and the other somewhere else.
So all of the different parts of the installation, the new and the older, are related and continuing your previous work?
They all blend together, there is no hierarchy between the one or the other, the tapestry or the video. I finished the other work few weeks ago as well, so they're all new. I quite like this mixing of history, there is no hierarchy, the before and after. It's sort of history getting lost in its layers. Art in general is layers of voices and people making things one on top of the other, so it's also about being lost.
How did you get into making tapestry? Did you move to Antwerp specifically to learn this technique?
I learned a bit, and I taught my grandma how to do it, she already knits a lot. I went to live in Belgium to understand how these things are made. And also, Belgium has been a strong influence through the history of my family. Part of my family is from the north of France and Flanders. So I'm linking the two together.
Are you planning on moving elsewhere?
I'm in Belgium, but I also live sometimes in the Croatian desert, in a trailer. For the last year I've been moving around places. It's a sort of escape from this non-stop world, trying to reconnect with the elements.
Laure Prouvost, "Lick In The Past", 2016, installation view @ MMK, Frankfurt
© Laure Prouvost, photo: Axel Schneider
Laure Prouvost, "DEEP TRAVELS Ink.", 2016, installation view @ MMK, Frankfurt
© Laure Prouvost, photo: Axel Schneider
Can you tell us about the other projects you are currently working on?
At the moment I have a show in MMK Frankfurt, which is a selection of five videos of mine. It is sort of melting into the ground. I managed to bring to Frankfurt the travel agent of my uncle, who lives in the north of England. He has a travel agent called Deep Travels, it's a wink on the work of digging, on going somewhere. It can take you far, we can go dig deeper into things with that travel agent.
Next big show will be in Milan. We are starting to build the visitor center there, in an art space Hangar Bicocca. And then we are going higher, in Luzern.
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* The exhibition “all behind, we’ll go deeper, deep down and she will say:” at the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main (on view until November 6, 2016) is the second and central chapter of a three-part survey of the work of Laure Prouvost, which began in June this year with the installation, “Dropped here and then, to live, leave it all behind”, at Le Consortium in Dijon, and will continue in October at the Kunstmuseum Luzern with a presentation titled “and she will say: hi her, ailleurs to higher grounds”.