To recover from the intensity of the Venice Biennale, French installation artist Laure Prouvost has created In Reflection We Rest, her answer to an airport lounge, in Kreuzberg gallery Carlier | Gebauer.
Laure Prouvost is tired. With representing France at the Venice Biennale and a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in her new adopted home of Antwerp under her belt this year, the Turner Prize winner feels she deserves rest. In her new installation at Carlier | Gebauer Prouvost has created a haven of peace and recuperation populated by leftovers and remnants of her artworks. After passing through the security gate and brushing past her signature boobs it’s adorned with, we stole her away from the installation work to talk about the show, missing Britain, working with her grandma and digging tunnels.
What’s behind the title of this exhibition In Reflection We Rest?
Venice was big for me as an artist, it was very intense. So now I wanted to do a show here where it’s a moment of reflection and relaxation. Of course I had to work really hard for this rest! When you come into the exhibition you have to pass through a security arch with boobs on it, it’s almost as if they are trying to check you out. On the other side we offer for you to leave your phone there at the entrance. The idea is that you leave behind what has happened in your day before, and then you come in and it’s like a campsite where you can hang out.
We saw a bed being set up in the gallery, will visitors be invited to lie down on it?
Yes, they can sit on the bed, lie down. They can rest. As soon as you lie down, you yawn, you know. It’s connected to hard work, the end of hard work. There may also be someone massaging people and there’s a room where you can see bits of my video from Venice that’s falling apart, like the pixels are undoing themselves. I wanted to talk about that moment after something quite important has happened, but also about how the gallery can be a very relaxed place. There are a few duvets I have painted, they are my grandmother’s, I just stole them. I doubt she reads Exberliner, so I can tell you.
And there are some decorative fabrics in the show, did you make them?
My grandmother makes them: I tell her what I’d like her to do and she makes them for me. But in this show you’ll see the ones I didn’t like. At first I complained and now I just use them as carpets. They’re leftovers… My grandmother is often busy in my studio, making pottery, tapestry and duvets. I once made a video called “Grandma’s Dreams” where she complained that I’m not a very good artist and that she could do it better. She loves creating, which is good for me. She is of that generation where she was an artist but didn’t get that much attention. So now we are doing it together, bringing the female power out!
You lived in London for 18 years, did representing France at the Venice Biennale feel like a seal of approval or a welcome home?
It’s of course like a welcome back. But it’s funny, my practise really grew in London so I don’t even have the words to talk about my work in French. The great thing nowadays is that identities are more and more complex and we don’t just represent a single point of view anymore. Our personal experience plays out in a larger world. I personally have a very strong history in France, my whole family does. And of course the French support of my work at this level is amazing. It’s the biggest thing a country could offer someone.
Has Brexit changed how you think of your own identity?
The world changes so fast and so does British identity. My husband is from the UK and my children are half British. I still absolutely love the country and being in London. But I don’t think I would have gone there to study now, I couldn’t have. Just the cost of education would have been too much. Things would have been very different. But maybe it’s good for England that they don’t get too many of me!
We heard you were digging a tunnel between the French and the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale, did you finish it?
Well, I did ask the British to make an effort as well, to maybe meet us half way. We will carry on and I’d like to keep the tunnel there. For political reasons, too. We definitely need to feel connected in some ways.
In Reflection We Rest | Carlier | Gebauer, Kreuzberg. Through Nov 9.