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Nicolas Provost

Ten Film Works

Nov 17 2011 - Jan 12 2012

Works in the Exhibition


(lobby: projected)


Gravity, 2007

HD video 5ʼ40” looped 16:9

ed. of 5 + 1

(lobby: monitor and headphones)


The Divers, 2006

SD video 7 mins looped 4:3

ed. of 5 + 1


(main room)


Stardust, 2010

HD video 20 mins 16:10

ed. of 5 + 1


(large flat screen monitor on the floor)


Suspension, 2007

SD video 4 mins looped 16:9 (vertical)

ed. of 5 + 1 


(middle area, right: floating screen)


Storyteller, 2010

SD Video 7 mins looped 4:3e

d. of 5 + 1


(middle area, left: on wall)


Plot Point, 2007

HD video 15 mins looped 16:9

ed. of 5 + 1 a.p.(Sold out, for viewing only)


(small back room, far left)


Papillon d'amour, 2003-2005

SD video 4 mins looped 4:3

ed. of 5 + 1 a.p.(Sold out, for viewing only)


(large back room, far right)


Long Live The New Flesh, 2009

HD video 15 mins looped 16:9

ed. of 5 + 1


Young Projects is proud to present Nicolas Provost: Eight Film Works. Provost’s experimental films have won over 60 major awards worldwide, including over ten first place/gold medals. He has also received solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, Haunch of Venison in London, the Tim Van Laere Gallery in Antwerp and retrospectives in Brazil, Japan, the Netherlands and elsewhere.

“My field of interest is to question the phenomenon of cinema," says the artist. "My work is a reflection on the grammar of cinema and the relation between visual art and the cinematic experience. Foremost, I try to grasp our collective film memory and make poetry.”


Indeed, for much of his career Provost has been breaking down and exploring the nature of the cinematic through his short-to-medium length works. In the process he has created an extraordinary body of work that ultimately remains critical of the medium, yet at the same time, realizes its full potential. In each case, whether working in short or long form, he often pares down his approach to a single technique or element. The early work Papillon d’amour (2003), for example, uses a single editing gesture to tease out the underlying subtext from a moment in Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950), while at the same time creating an entirely new cinematic event in and of itself. Long Live the New Flesh (2009), by contrast, uses data mashing to compress and abstract a number of classic horror scenes in a way that extends the promise of the horror genre (the mutating body) to the very medium itself.


If there’s a common theme that crops up time and again in his work, it’s the notion of the double. “Papillon” and “Suspension” (2007) are the most obvious examples of mirroring, but other works exhibit a more subtle kind of echoing, where images and ideas oscillate continually between two poles: between surface and depth, fact and fiction, and the psychological and the distanced. “The films of Nicolas Provost,” states Roberto Manassero, “are split in two by an uncertainty between two possible outcomes: the emotion of the ecstasy, in which the admiring gaze remains suspended in time, and the manipulation of the images, which dismantles filmed reality and recomposes into new forms.”


Provost’s exhibition will include eight large-scale projection works that span his career, including Papillon, Long Live the New Flesh, Plot Point (2007), Gravity (2007), Storyteller (2010), Suspension (2007), and The Divers (2006). It will also include Stardust (2010), one of the artist’s most recent works. In this film, which is the second part of a trilogy, Provost uses classic Hollywood film codes (music crescendos, dialogue, and heightened montage techniques) to transform documentary footage of unsuspecting and entirely random people in Las Vegas into a believable crime film. (While the footage is original, some of the audio is culled from well-known films, offering a different take on the appropriated film genre). Filmmakers from both, the comedy traditions (ie. Woody Allen) and experimental film (ie John Smith), have re-edited preexisting material in a similar fashion, yet their goal has generally been to create a humorous effect. Provost, on the other hand, is searching for something more nuanced and complex. In films such as Stardust, Plot Point and The Divers, he’s not only laying bare the mechanisms of narrative filmmaking and their manipulative characteristics, but showing that all filmic languages (including non-fictional) are paradoxical by nature.


Nevertheless, there tends to be a deep humanity, generosity and romanticism at play in his works; whether it’s the hopeful subtext of Gravity’s cinematic embraces or the desperate sadness of Stardust’s fly-on-the-wall glimpse into the denizens of Las Vegas (which includes real Hollywood stars such as Jon Voight, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson). As Jeroen Laureyns writes, “as a pictorial artist, Provost has an unusual sense of style and tragedy. His decoding of film language is a stylistic technique; its objective is to tell an accessible and touching drama. By deforming the images, he is not out to confuse the viewer, but simply to touch him. Provost believes in image and fiction; in his work, personal imagination quenches its thirst at the sources of mass culture. Within the context of contemporary art, an unproblematic use of image and story is rather exceptional. Clement Greenberg argued that art needs to leave images to mass media in order to create its own ‘image,’ and that continues to be the norm. Much like the strategy of the storyteller, it is still considered a ‘bourgeois strategy of presenting an illusion’” Provost is one of those rare artists who can present an illusion of an illusion, where it’s a mirror image and question at the same time.”


Provost was born in Belgium in 1969 and graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Gent, Belgium in 1994. He began his career as an illustrator, graphic designer and art director in Oslo, Norway. He lives and works in Belgium. He recently completed his first feature film, The Invader, 2011, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival


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