Closeup of person eating a strawberry
Laure Prouvost
French, b. Lille, 1978
Single-channel video; color; sound; 12:06 min.
Joseph H. Hirshhorn Purchase Fund, 2018 (2018.019)

Swallow blends imagery of fruit, nude figures, and the Italian countryside into a lush collage interrupted by periodic flashes of an open mouth and the sound of inhaled breath. Laure Prouvost created the video during a residency in Italy in response to the Grand Tour, a historical rite of passage that exposed wealthy young men to Europe’s classical art and architecture. Focusing on idyllic images of nude bathers in a stream, Prouvost considers how we produce romantic ideals of place that diverge from reality. Her visual collage and soundscape pull the viewer into a world of intense sensation: a rush of images of flopping fish, crushed berries, and exposed flesh that hovers between earnestness and absurd humor.

Watch Laure Prouvost in conversation with Hirshhorn assistant curator Betsy Johnson in 2019