Laure Prouvost: An Immersive Migration – National Museum Norway


Laure Prouvost is an enigmatic multilayered artist. Her elevation from a relative unknown to winning the Max Mara Art Prize for Women (2011), followed by the coveted Turner Prize (2013) and representing France at the Venice Biennale (2019) has set her career on a stellar trajectory.

Her latest site-specific, immersive installation for the Light Hall at Norway’s new National Museum is perhaps her most ambitious work to date. Titled ‘Above Front Tears Oui Float’, the work is mounted in two large windowed rooms zoned by mist-spewing rocks, a grotto and a central screen inhabited by a flying granny who turns out to be the artist’s actual grandmother. Murano glass birds are scattered about in the rooms and ponds of oil leads one to speculate that the artwork is about migration and the shocking state of our degenerating planet. Yet, there is hope and Prouvost remains a great proponent of eternal optimism.

 'Above Front Tears Oui Float'
Laure Prouvost ‘Above Front Tears Oui Float’

The second room is accessible through the grotto and incorporates VR technology where nude female spirits cross lines of intimacy, encircling the viewer, whispering to join, levitate, communicate and migrate.

I asked Laure about her practice, “My practice is about translation and mistranslation. Emotions and empathy become one another. Medium to medium, where words become mailable like clay. My work is quite layered.

She adds, “The audience becomes a protagonist; You’re part of the family. I use the family a lot as it’s a good way to connect. Most of us have a grandmother or parents and siblings, fictional or not, as a starting point. So it’s a way of gathering what’s close to us. I’ve worked most recently on the emotion of the beginning of life, pre-language, where your brain loses everything it has learned and you become a baby again. ”

This installation is the first Fredriksen Family Commission for the new National Museum. This series of five biennial commissions over ten years will enable large-scale works by leading international artists to be seen in Norway for the first time. Each artist will be invited to create a work or an installation for the Light Hall, exploring the possibilities of this unique space.

 'Above Front Tears Oui Float'
Laure Prouvost ‘Above Front Tears Oui Float’

Prouvost challenges the boundaries between fiction and reality. She pays homage to the Dada Movement in her work. It is a blurred reality with art historical and religious references, including ancient fountains, caves, animals, mythical humans, birds and fish. In addition, the exhibition seriously considers nature, environmental challenges, migration and the pandemic, conveyed with warmth and sometimes absurd humour.

 'Above Front Tears Oui Float'
Laure Prouvost ‘Above Front Tears Oui Float’

Laure Prouvost was born in Lille, France (1978) and is currently based in Brussels. She received her BFA from Central St Martins, London, in 2002 and studied towards her MFA at Goldsmiths College, London. She also took part in the LUX Associate Programme. Laure Prouvost received the MaxMara Art Prize for Women in 2011 and the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013. She represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

Exhibitions include We, On The Rising Wave’, Busan Biennale, South Korea (2022); ‘ARS22’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland. Recent solo exhibitions include: ‘Deep Travel Ink’ at Atelier Hermès, Seoul, South Korea (2022); ‘Our elastic arm hold in tight through the claouds’ at Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark (2021); ‘Re-dit-en-un-in-learning CENTER’ at Lisson Gallery London (2020); ‘Melting into one another ho hot chaud it heating dip’, Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon, Portugal (2020); ‘Deep See Blue Surrounding You / Vois Ce Bleu Profond Te Fondre’, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, France, LAM – Lille métropole, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France (2020), and Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, Netherlands (2021); ‘AM-BIG-YOU-US LEGSICON’, M HKA – Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, Belgium (2019); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2018); BASS Museum, Miami, FL, USA (2018); ‘They Are Waiting for You, Performance for stage at the McGuire Theatre, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2018). Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy (2016); Haus Der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2015); New Museum, New York, NY, USA (2014); Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, Mexico (2014); Max Mara Art Prize for Women, Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK and Collezione Maramotti, Reggio Emilia, Italy (2013); ‘Laure Prouvost / Adam Chodzko’ as part of ‘Schwitters in Britain’, Tate Britain, London, UK (2013).

Prouvost represented France at the 58th International Art Biennial Venice, May-November 2019 and was included in ‘NIRIN,’ the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020). June 2019 saw the artist’s first public commission in the UK through Transport for London’s Art on the Underground.

Words/Photos: P C Robinson © Artlyst 2022

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