Laure Prouvost’s Exhibition “Ohmm: Age Oma Your Ohomma Mama” at Kunsthalle Vienna

2023-05-11 14:00:00

For the only exhibition of the Wiener Festwochen, the French artist Laure Prouvost has chosen a famous Austrian to uncover complex connections: the small statuette of “Venus von Willendorf”, which in the Natural History Museum tells of the first artists of prehistory and early history. As the ancestor of many generations, she fits into the grandmother concept that the Turner Prize winner Prouvost put in front of her exhibition concept for the Kunsthalle. She feels electively related less to a sexualised “Venus”, as she was placed in a series of 130 similar female statuettes by male research after her discovery because she is naked, but she sees this as a corpulent grandmother. In the meantime, science has also come to this realization, but the artist’s way of thinking consciously stays away from the analytical and steers into the principle of the game.

Niki de Saint Phalle once brought her colorful nanas closer to the Stone Age art object; She is now one in a line of famous women from all branches of art and science whom Prouvost uses to construct a fictitious genealogy around the grandmother’s ancestral figure. Her recent film “Here Her Heart Hovers” (commissioned by the Wiener Festwochen, the Kunsthalle and Remai Modern) is about a sisterly group, the chosen family, who move out to close a cave near Marseille visit. It is probably no coincidence that the Christian legends also transplanted Mary Magdalene into a cave for asceticism, since Mary’s “immaculate conception” is also mentioned.

Prouvost, born in Croix in 1978 and currently residing in Brussels, comes from experimental film, and you can feel that when entering the exhibition space, which is kept almost in the dark like a cinema. Individual islands of art are highlighted in a complex sound, language and light installation: the spotlights sometimes illuminate mobiles dangling from the ceiling, sometimes heaps of sand with found objects on the floor and sometimes half cages into which one can withdraw like in caves. From these open semi-domes one can also follow the film on two screens or let one’s gaze wander from one installation to the other until the nightly theater begins again from the beginning. It’s 45 minutes, sometimes marginalia on the wall – such as spider beetles and a tea towel – come into view. The mobiles consist of found objects: feathers, branches, paper and plastic fragments, shells, but also a mobile phone or a tangle of cables, i.e. electronic scrap or a dry lily blossom from which a cable with a plug dangles.

Archaeological artefacts are loosely and humorously combined with today’s rubbish, sometimes kitschy elements are also seen: artistic glass objects are also hanging in the threads or lying in the sand on the ground, depicting birds, branches, shells and fantastic hybrid creatures.

sisterly women

In the film, the sisterly women hold hands as if in a ritual round dance and speak of Marie Curie, Rosa Luxemburg or the artist Artemisia Gentileschi, of feminist and queer philosophers. In keeping with the original form of Greek theater, there will be a performance on Saturday at 4 p.m. in which choirs will play a role. In the film, women with feathers on their heads dance behind curtains like the fortune-tellers of Delphi, roaming through nature at dawn on a scientific expedition.

The sound from the exhibition is already received at the entrance to the Kunsthalle like an echo, the first delicate mobile dangles in the brick foyer, and before you enter the exhibition space, four cymbals begin to beat: in the eventful narrative thread, the little “Willendorferin” is propagated to become a pop star. She’s used to it, hundreds of science and art projects have already been dedicated to her, especially from the feminist side through to Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Venus” made of pink steel as a pure art market icon.

The title of the festival show seems like an incantation or a song text to be hummed, a line like from Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha”, a favorite text of the hippie generation, although it was already written in 1922. Prouvost remains polyphonic and cryptic, as in her Biennale contribution in Venice 2019. The important soundtrack integrates Elisabeth Schimana’s composition “Zwiebelfäden”.

#Exhibition #Cave #Nanas

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