Cover image of the review
Laure Prouvost, Four for see beauties, 2022, installation view, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Courtesy the artist, and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris and Brussels; carlier | gebauer, Berlin and Madrid; Lisson Gallery, London, New York and Shanghai. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Laure Prouvost: Oui Move in You

20 Apr 2024
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) 23 Mar - 10 Jun 2024

Laure Prouvost wants to take you on a journey. Her hand beckons, motioning here, this way, before becoming distracted by its own mobility, undulating up and down as if surfing outside a car window. Her voice is present, as always in her work, a feminine whisper accompanying the gesturing hand, come! This untitled video, installed on a small screen at the entrance to the artist’s solo exhibition at ACCA, Laure Prouvost: Oui Move in You, is more directional signage than a work as such, in that its purpose is to ensure you’ve set off in the right direction, which is the left side of the galleries. The right-side entrance greets you with a wall, onto which is placed a small painted sign warning: “NO TRES SPASSING Grand ma seas you.”

Such word play recurs throughout Prouvost’s practice. It speaks to a conspiratorial playfulness that verges on the childlike as well as an irreverence towards language, a desire to treat it materially and imperfectly. As the show’s title implies, slippages between French and English are common in her work, a practical outcome of the French-born artist living in the United Kingdom for almost two decades and an ethical imperative to refuse borders of all kinds, most flagrantly those of nations, languages, and bodies (she notoriously tunnelled between the French and British pavilions at the 2019 Venice Biennale, where she “represented” France). In conversation with curator Annika Kristensen at ACMI, after a screening of the video They Parlaient Idéale (2019), a centrepiece of her French pavilion presentation, Prouvost spoke of how important trespassing is to her, especially a trespassing of what’s expected of you, of what you’re meant to do. On the one hand, this is what art at its best can do (and has long done): trespass across categories, classifications, expectations, and thereby make them visible, and thus denaturalised. On the other hand, trespassing is an act of privilege, one not available to many, or with severe ramifications when it is done, as the heavily policed borders of the world make clear, those of Gaza among them.

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