Looking at you looking at us
05/04/2023 – 05/09/2023
Laure Prouvost(°1978, Lille) is known for her mesmerising installations combining film, sculpture, found objects, performance, and language. The artist is interested in emancipation, globalisation and ecology. In her work, Prouvost combines personal memories, artistic and literary references, and fiction. The installation with which she won the Turner Prize, for example, was a recreated, imaginary living room of her imaginary grandfather, a conceptual artist who had been rejected by the art world.
Her work is seductive and compelling, unexpected and unpredictable. It is a labyrinth, both literally (where, for example, in French Pavilion, she completely reverses the use of space – you enter by way of the basement, through what looks like a hole in the ground) and figuratively. Through language, she stimulates the imagination, using humour to disrupt linear narratives and the expected associations between words, images and meaning. In her work, an orange symbolises love, a piece of bread represents work, or an octopus represents the earth. The elasticity and power of the written word are central to Prouvost’s approach. Words become the symbols through which the audience forms its own mental images.
This Billboard Series coincides with Façade – a project by artlead on the facade of the showroom of the Brussels museum Kanal Pompidou, which is currently under renovation. In Brussels, Laure shows plants blooming out of the showroom’s skeleton, creating a post-apocalyptic garden. Here and there in the teeming flora appear voluptuous shapes and tentacles, and flapping flags with slogans.
Laure Prouvost is an activist artist. Whereas the work in Brussels focuses on ecology, in Ghent she takes a decidedly feminist stance. Two women’s breasts fill the billboard. Below them the text ‘Looking at you looking at us’. These breasts are not objectified as in advertisements and other images of women’s bodies in public space. On the contrary, they are the subject and they are looking at us – literally, like eyes. The text below makes you feel momentarily diffident as a viewer, you are caught off guard. But as always, the tone is playful. Breasts, buttocks and other female forms do appear frequently in Prouvost’s work. They depict a gentle power: natural, feminine and inclusive.
Laure Prouvost lives and works in Brussels. In 2019, she represented France at the 58th Venice Biennale. In 2013, she won the prestigious Turner Prize. She has had numerous solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, the Munich Art Centre, the New Museum in New York and most recently the National Museum in Oslo. Her work can be found in the collections of M HKA, Antwerp; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C; De Pont Museum, Tilburg; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris; Lucerne Art Gallery; Arts Council of England, London.
All images courtesy of the artist
Installation photography: Valentijn Goethals
Billboard Series is a long-term art project in public space, for which every three months an artist is invited to create a new, site-specific work for a 50 m2 billboard on Dok Noord, Ghent. Through changing presentations, Billboard Series wants to build a sustainable and productive dialogue with the surrounding neighbourhood and urban landscape, reflect on the changes that this neighbourhood is currently undergoing, and introduce a broad audience to different visual languages and ways of looking at the world.
Billboard Series is a project of artlead, together with 019. Billboard Series is curated by Thomas Caron, takes place within a scenography by architect Olivier Goethals, and is being developed with the support of the City of Ghent and the Flemish Community.