While the future KANAL-Centre Pompidou museum is currently under construction, the scaffolding installed adjacent to the former building’s showroom window has proven the perfect place to launch a new series of artworks in the public space. FAÇADE invites artists to create images that cover the entirety of what was previously the glass display windows of the Citroën garage and headquarters. Each of these works will create a unique conversation with the city for a period of six months. Covering more than a thousand square metres, these works are undoubtedly the largest of their kind in Brussels to date.
Laure Prouvost has been invited to inaugurate the series. For this first FAÇADE, the artist has composed a work in which flowers and plants emerge from the showroom’s skeletal depths, creating a post-apocalyptic garden. Here and there among the teeming flora, voluptuous flesh and tentacles appear, while flags bearing slogans undulate in the wind. At the tips of the vines, two flowers come face to face while the words “we belong” hover below them.
Photos by Bart Grietens
Plants in full bloom and the erogenous parts of women’s bodies evoke transformation and renewal. The slogans are directly addressed to the audience, provoking thought, issuing wishes, and calling for action. Prouvost plays with language and the meanings generated by her word gymnastics. Her slogans sometimes combine different languages, such as “soon oui will swim in het kanal”. Our individual dreams are expressed in one multilingual voice. The scene represents both the powers of nature and of bodies. It is an optimistic and hopeful image that attempts to redefine the public space and imagine a more compassionate future. Here, humans are in harmony with nature, and everyone is granted a place in this new life together.
Prouvost is known for her immersive and compelling installations in which film, sculpture, found objects, performance, and language are intertwined. The artist is interested in the notions of emancipation, globalisation, and ecology, which she touches on in a conceptual and poetic way. In her work, Prouvost combines personal memories, artistic or literary references, and elements of fiction. She uses language in a humorous way to provoke our imagination, and to disrupt linear narratives or the expected associations between words, images, and meaning. An orange symbolises love, a loaf of bread represents work, an octopus the planet. The elasticity and power of the written word are central to Prouvost’s approach, as the words become symbols that allow the audience to form their own mental images.
On the occasion of the work’s inauguration on March 25, a parade complete with a brass band and majorettes will leave from Place Sainte-Catherine towards the KANAL construction site for a celebratory gathering. Echoing Laure Prouvost’s piece, banners will appear at the heart of the parade displaying slogans collected by the artist and author Leïla El-Mahi during workshops with the citizens of the neighbouring areas.
The monumental work by Laure Prouvost will be given a grand public opening on March 25. A parade complete with marching band, majorettes and choir members from Singing Molenbeek will march from Place Sainte-Catherine to Sainctelette at 4pm, banners at the ready. Hopeful messages from Laure Prouvost’s work will be cried out in all languages. Some of them will originate from the minds of local residents, after a series of writing workshops with the artist and the author Leïla El-Mahi around Prouvost’s enchanting world.
Laure Prouvost lives and works in Brussels (Molenbeek). 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 the M HKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., U.S.A.; De Pont Museum, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France; Lucerne Art Gallery, Switzerland; Arts Council of England, London, U.K.
The FAÇADE series is co-curated and co-produced by KANAL-Centre Pompidou and artlead.