Critics’ Picks

View of “Laure Prouvost,” 2018.

View of “Laure Prouvost,” 2018.

New York

Laure Prouvost

Lisson Gallery | 508 West 24th Street | New York
508 West 24th Street
March 9–April 14, 2018

Laure Prouvost’s travel agency has all the right fixtures: desks with padded office chairs, brochures and getaway magazines taped over with the company name (Deep Travel Ink), paper posters and maps in various stages of decay pasted to the wall. The extensive transformation of the gallery serves an elaborate punch line about the imagined white Western male traveler who goes on expeditions to “exotic” destinations. The agency is supposedly the artist’s uncle’s, and her newest video piece for the exhibition, Monteverdi ici, 2018, predominantly features imagery of a nude woman’s back as she conducts plein air breathing exercises and extols her integration with nature in heated whispers, arousing the sexually charged tones of “deep travel” and “discovery.” (“You know, there is always someone following you to make you his torical,” another video proclaims.) Yet for all her self-aware play with language, Prouvost makes some odd choices. Grammatical errors in texts throughout the installation do little more than mock a composite stereotype of a non-native English speaker’s small business, while other interventions seem to engage without critiquing an exoticizing or racist imagination: On one of the travel agent’s desks sits a color swatch of flesh tones, from pale pink to terra-cotta, as if used to evaluate potential travelers. On a poster for Air India showing a large group of cartoon people on a stage, Prouvost scrawls in broad strokes, “A FAMILY BUSINESS.” Over a tourism advertisement for Indonesia, she writes, “GO TO PLACES THAT DON’T EXIST.”

As a reconfiguration of a 2016 exhibition at MMK Frankfurt, the installation may be forgiven for attempting to weave together too many commentaries into its tapestry, but ultimately, Prouvost’s simplest inventions are the most compelling: a fountain composed of leaking breasts, hiking sticks fitted with truck mirrors, and a fish tank in which a clunky video camera has been submerged. More of that liquid vision could have served it well.