Laure Prouvost: Stranded by Your Side

New York, September 7 - October 14

from the depths of my heart
to the depths of the sea
from high in the clouds, to my brain set free.
in the womb of this galaxy
I will draw you to the deep
where you never dreamed to sleep

- Excerpt from Four For See Beauties, Laure Prouvost, 2022

Laure Prouvost’s second solo exhibition with Lisson Gallery in New York is a multifaceted exploration of motherhood, migration and above all, empathy. Immediately conspicuous upon entering the gallery is the presence of Prouvost’s protagonist: a new, monumental octopus sculpture, cast in bronze and washed ashore to join visitors in the center of the space. The exhibition, titled Stranded By Your Side, also features oil on canvas paintings from the artist’s  new ‘Octopus Body’ series as well as an immersive film, Four For See Beauties (2022).

Prouvost – who represented France at the 2019 Venice Biennale, and was awarded the Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2011 and the Turner Prize in 2013 – has gained international acclaim for creating environments where the senses converge, adopting a corporal approach and often addressing the viewer directly. Within these environments Prouvost plays with translation across languages and materials, working with a particular allegorical vocabulary to address complex contemporary issues with intimacy and humor. Often found in her lexicon is the octopus, recurring in installations, paintings and films as a representation of the foggy border between feeling and thinking. With the overwhelming majority of an octopus’ organs and receptors formed in the tentacles, the creature thinks by feeling and feels by thinking. Just as the sentient octopus extends her tentacles in various directions, Prouvost’s narratives branch out, intertwining the personal and collective.

The octopus is also a symbol for the bearer of life and the interweave of motherhood and ecological vitality. After a mother octopus lays her cluster of eggs, she refrains from any further nutritional intake and wastes away, dying by the time her eggs hatch. Prouvost’s octopus, Landed Here To Sea You With All Our Very Breasts (2023), has traveled across the Atlantic, purposely leaving the safety of her aquatic home to strand herself closer to us. She will take care of us while she still can. The paintings I Will Dis Arm You, You Are Mine and There Furth Her (all 2023) further the analogy, positioning the marine life amongst soft human breasts. Softly Yours, We Were In A Spiral D’Ame Our, Grow In You, and On Our Way (all 2023) feature tentacles interacting directly with the human baby.

The caring cephalopod and other aquatic creatures are also found in the film Four For See Beauties. The enveloping film installation was originally co-commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Finland for the 2022 edition of the annual ARS exhibition and La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain, before traveling to the 2022 Busan Biennale. The 15-minute video is installed in a womb-like space in the back of the gallery, and stars three women nurturing each other and a baby, the artist’s youngest daughter, along with starfish and other marine animals. Following the birth of her own child, Prouvost filmed the work in a sauna, creating an environment that emphasizes warmth, touch and love to return viewers to the sensations of early life.

Laure Prouvost’s largest exhibition to date in North America, ‘Oma-je’, is currently on view at Remai Modern, Saskatoon, SK, Canada through January 28, 2024. ‘Above Front Tears Nest in South’, the artist’s first solo exhibition in Texas, opens at the Moody Center for the Arts from September 15 – December 14.

See more images here: Lisson Gallery

October 03, 2023

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