[…] Prouvost’s cosmos are in fact “cosmos of references”: it is partly the task of the visitor to create the world through the attention we focus on certain objects or aspects of a room, through our personal memories, associations and imagination.
[…] It does not depend only on the extensive use of video, but on her peculiar way of constructing her multimedia installation in general. In this sense, Prouvost’s artistic practice is also a specific contribution to the perception of cinema.
After winning the Turner Prize in 2013, Laure Prouvost’s career took off and now she can take advantage of realizing majestic exhibitions like her most recent one at the Kunstmuseum in Luzern. The large dimensions suit her works particularly well. Prouvost has a performative attitude and has produced her exhibition in Luzern with a site-specific approach: a slightly elevated blue runway extends one of the architectural motives of the KKL, creating an ideal connection between the lake and the path that the visitor can follow to discover the different works. Actually, each of her installations is nothing but the creation of a world, each one working with the principle of immersion as it is often taking the organization of entire rooms to constitute a work of art. With each encounter, we do not simply have a relationship with an art object, but we enter a cosmos.
This way of working can be also seen as a reflection of the museum institution, which was equally born as a specific development of the habit of collecting rare objects: using these objects to comprehensively represent the entire world, or an aspect of it. It is no surprise, then, to discover that Prouvost’s cosmos often display a critical dialogue with the institution itself, not only by reinterpreting the exhibition spaces and using them to her own end, but also by thematising the concept of what a museum is. In the Luzern exhibition, the work that most explicitly discusses the idea of a museum, If It Was (2015), is also an important interpretative key for the entire exhibition. «If it was my museum, I would…» is the refrain of this video work, and it marks the programmatic intentions of the artist. «Ideally» is another recurring opening word of programmatic slogans spread throughout the entire exhibition. Intentions and references to ideal worlds constitute a sort of basic theme of her poetics.
Prouvost’s works present a strong physical sensuality, which constitute another important theme for the French artist. But, as it is particularly clear in the video work Swallow (2013), for example, such sensuality is explicit in her videos and is also the result of the different cosmos she creates. In this way, I want to stress the fact that we don’t access her ideal world of sensuality directly but always through some form of mediation: the video medium or the evocative force of an object, the meaning of a sound, the telling of a voice… Prouvost’s cosmos are in fact cosmos of references: it is partly the task of the visitor to create the world through the attention we focus on certain objects or aspects of a room, through our personal memories, associations and imagination.
After these few reflections on our perception of Prouvost’s cosmos, you will understand why I think that her art is eminently cinematographic. It does not depend only on the extensive use of video, but on her peculiar way of constructing her multimedia installation in general. In this sense, Prouvost’s artistic practice is also a specific contribution to the perception of cinema. Here, one must not try to relate her work exclusively to the experience of classical movies. Her work After, After (2013) is a sort of paradigm that speaks for all the other works in the Luzern exhibition. In a black box with voice-overs, the sudden highlighting of objects, paintings and sculptures, together with the intermittent presence of a video, tell a detective story that concerns another movie – that is an “after movie” –, which is largely madeup of impressions, atmospheres, and bizarre situations. Her multimedia installation is a literally “expanded cinema”.
Text: Giuseppe Di Salvatore
First published: February 14, 2017