FRIEZE 2011: Laure Prouvost

As the art fair opens today, the French artist mounts 28 signs carefully across the site, all bearing her characteristic slogans

Laure Prouvost, Ideally this sign would take you i
Laure Prouvost, Ideally this sign would take you in its arms, 2010, oil, collage and varnish on wooden panel, 25 x 29 cm Image courtesy of Laure Prouvost & MOTINTERNATIONAL

Amongst the sprawling architecture and many stands at Frieze 2011 are nestled the whimsical and touching works of French artist Laure Prouvost. Mounted in carefully chosen locations around the site and occasionally cropping up in unexpected places, the 28 signs create small punctuation points in the experience of the fair.  Each holds a statement which in the fleeting moment of comprehension removes or distracts the reader from the environment. 

Slogans such as 'ideally your mother will be waiting for you here' prompt an unwitting psychological reflex that snap thoughts from the hugely impersonal bright white walled Frieze back to the close, familial and private. Her signs, slogans and texts are often exhibited as part of installation or video works, but for Frieze Projects the artist has created them specifically for the environment of the fair. Three slogans will also be reproduced as posters to appear around London as an expanded form of momentary escapism from the everyday.

Dazed Digital: How did you approach the idea of making signs for Frieze?
Laure Prouvost: Sarah McCrory suggested that we could work with them for the Frieze project, I have been making them for while and this context seemed really appropriate.

DD: What's your interest in language?
Laure Prouvost: Words for me are very visually powerful, because with words people create their own vision.  I am just hinting and suggesting possibilities, the audience is making its own image in its head.  It is also about misunderstanding, misinterpreting, miscommunicating - words also suggesting failure and other senses.

DD: What are your influences?
Laure Prouvost:
Going to a busy African market, the intensity of all that surround us and also of course many classic novels, films and artists work.  I think in some way everything influences everything - I know it's quite a romantic idea. I like this quote by Marcel Broodthaers, "I don't believe in film, nor do I believe in any other art. I don't believe in the unique artist or the unique work of art. I believe in phenomena, and in men who put ideas together."

DD: Do you like the idea that you will have an effect on people's everyday experience?
Laure Prouvost: I like the fact that it's not really me that makes the work but the person looking, and yes if it can make us look a little bit differently at things that surround us…

DD: What's your favourite sign?
Laure Prouvost:
'Ideally those vegetables would now fly pass you to the sky...' (3 vegetables near the sign)

Do they reference slogans, literature, instructions or plaques that we are used to interpreting?
Laure Prouvost: Signs are seen as a way to get direction and information so it's quite nice to change their purpose.  They can also tell you a very short story, like 'someone lived here', it's a medium than has been used by many people.

DD: Explain about the ones that will be up around London?
Laure Prouvost: Ideally they take you somewhere else ;)

DD: How does it feel to have the signs independently shown outside of the context of your installations and sculptures?
Laure Prouvost: They work in a very similar way I think as they are trying to relate ridiculously, or not, to the surroundings in which they're presented.

DD: What is different about their role in your broader practice and their role in Frieze?
Laure Prouvost: I think in Frieze they are of course part of an art fair and the art market.  I use text in a very similar way in my videos which is quite virtual - I think what I find interesting is that in the art fair the fair setting is so strong, they are bound to loose control but I find this interesting, they turn into objects.

DD: How are you responding to the site of the fair?
Laure Prouvost: I was not interested in having a direct critic or comment on the fact of the market and I think it's almost too obvious.  I prefer that they offer other vision possibility and play with the space the architecture of the fair.

DD: What are you most excited about for Frieze week?
Laure Prouvost: Seeing people I like, and discovering though provoking work, or just seeing something indescribable.

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