A year after Laure Prouvost was chosen to represent France, Franck Riester, the Minister of Culture, was in Venice on Wednesday 8th May, where he inaugurated the French Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, alongside Paolo Barratta, the President of the Biennale, and Pierre Buhler, the President of the Institut français. The work will be on display in the Giardini of the Biennale from 11th May to 24th November 2019.
Laure Prouvost, who won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2013, developed the project of Deep See Blue Surrounding You / Vois Ce Bleu Profond Te Fondre in resonance with the context of Venice, a floating city built on and by water, and with the French Pavilion, which is located in the heart of the Giardini, an enormous garden containing 28 national pavilions from amongst the 89 countries represented this year.
The Minister of Culture saluted the relevance of the artistic proposal: “For an artist, accepting to represent France at the Venice Biennale is a great responsibility. It’s a question of representing the nation, in a world where the reality is of art which circulates across continents. Laure Prouvost has seized upon this paradox, inherent to her project, to call into question the concept of identity, which is so important and so sensitive in our contemporary societies”. He continued: “The relationships between generations, memory, language and translation, and fiction are some of the themes of the collective journey offered by the artist. What is striking about Laure Prouvost’s proposal are the values which she brings into play, forged by alterity, benevolence and humanism, and the attention she pays to her environment.
The artist, Laure Prouvost: “I like to question what we present and represent, who we are and where we are up to, both personally and on the scale of humanity. Being given the opportunity to represent France is both a great honour and a great chance for me to pursue my artistic process, my quest for an ideal otherwhere which would enable us to learn to know ourselves better, as men, women, young people, old people, French people and foreigners”. She continued: “I worked with the idea of an octopus in mind, and my project for the French Pavilion offers a metaphorical immersion into the stomach of an unknown tentacular animal to find out who we are”.
The curator, Martha Kirszenbaum, agreed: “The octopus of Deep See Blue Surrounding You / Vois Ce Bleu Profond Te Fondre has, in a way, a head that is the fictional film piece projected at the centre of the Pavilion. It’s an initiatory journey - from the Parisian suburbs to the north of France, from the Palais du Facteur Cheval to the Mediterranean Sea - and finally to Venice and the French Pavilion. From this head stems an installation made up of objects from the film, made of resin, earth, glass, plants or water vapour, supplemented by performances. The installation is a kind of sensorial extension of the film, where the spectator is invited to find their place. Laure Prouvost wishes for them to enrich the experience of the work with their own stories and feelings, and to feel themselves becoming another tentacle in the project.”
After Sophie Calle and Annette Messager, who won the Lion d’Or for the installation Casino in 2011, Laure Prouvost is the third woman to feature at the French Pavilion.
Laure Prouvost was chosen to represent France in May 2018 by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, on the proposal of a selection committee made up of six contemporary art experts: Guillaume Désanges, art critic and exhibition curator, Gilles Fuchs, President of the Association pour la Diffusion Internationale de l’Art Français (ADIAF), Christine Macel, head curator at the Musée national d’art moderne (MNAM) - Centre Pompidou, Sandra Patron, director of the Musée régional d’art contemporain Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée, Sérignan, Jean-Marc Prevost, director of the Carré d’art, Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes, Annabelle Ténèze, general director of the Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie Toulouse, as well as three institutional representatives: Laurence Auer, director of culture, teaching, research and the network of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Béatrice Salmon, deputy director in charge of visual arts at the Ministry of Culture, and Pierre Buhler, President of the Institut français.
The project for the French Pavilion was implemented by the Institut français, a public establishment in charge of French external cultural action, under the joint supervision of the Ministries of Europe and Foreign Affairs and of Culture. The executive production was carried out by the ARTER agency.
The French Pavilion is supported by the CHANEL Fund for Women in Arts and Culture and is in partnership with ARTER; La Fondation des Artistes; Les Abattoirs, Musée – Frac Occitanie Toulouse; LaM – Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut; DUNE Productions; Cité internationale des arts; Galerie Nathalie Obadia; carlier | gebauer; Lisson Gallery; The Art Newspaper; Les Inrocks.
IMAGE: Laure Prouvost's film for the French Pavilion © The Art Newspaper