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This is your last week to see Max Mara Art Prize for Women recipient Laure Prouvost’s exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery in London. Whitewall attended the opening reception last month for the artist’s two-part installation entitled, “Farfromwords: car mirrors eat raspberries when swimming through the sun, to swallow sweet smells,” and includes a panoramic painting-inspired structure and the film Swallow (2013).
The Max Mara Art Prize for Women is a biannual program that nurtures emerging female artists with a six-month residency in Italy. The work produced during that time (quite lengthy by typical residency standards) is acquired by Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Prouvost’s work will be on view at the collection starting this May through November 10, 2013. Past winners have been Andrea Büttner, Hannah Rickards, and Margaret Salmon.
It’s important to note how rare it is that an artist is allowed six uninterrupted months to create. We spoke with Dr. Luigi Maramotti, the Chairman of Max Mara, in London, and he explained that the jury even has to make sure an artist is ready to become the winner; if they really can make a six month commitment. “The act of creativity of an artist, is often for me, an act of solitude, because it’s the outcome of meditation, of your own experience. It’s a kind of magic, an act of courage,” Maramotti said.
He said that the prize “is about buying time. It’s about going back to an education of the mind, of the senses, a visual education that you reach only if you don’t speed up things. It is giving a young individual and a young woman the possibility to be open to something. The project is there but the project is open and the residency will shape it in a way, like what happened with Laure is incredible. It’s really telling a lot …there is no work like it that could exist without the residency.”
That’s completely evident walking around “Farfromwords…” especially watching its film Swallow. A series of quick cuts and close-ups, with the sound of heavy breathing (and the visual of an open mouth) keeping time, it is narrated by Prouvost in her now signature language of mistranslations. Lush green scenery and sensual shots of bare skin, squished raspberries, water, and sky, are seen in rapid sequence while we hear Prouvost whisper things like, “This film is inside you,” “Take all the pictures and swallow it in one go,” “Lick the skin,” “This bird is in your mouth,” “The Man that was here before disappeared into the rock,” and “A cloud has fell from the sky.”
We could feel the warmth of the sun, the feeling of cold water on skin, and the taste of raspberries as we watched Swallow. To our delight, we didn’t have to imagine the taste of a raspberry for too long, as outside the film’s enclave were two walls lined with car mirrors offering a handful of raspberries for the taking. The work’s puzzling title “car mirrors eat raspberries when swimming through the sun, to swallow sweet smells” slowly started to make sense. But never completely, as we’re sure Prouvost intended.