Laure Prouvost, Betty Bee

The new solo projects by Laure Prouvost and Betty Bee organized by the Fondazione Donnaregina per le arti contemporanee in collaboration with the Fondazione Morra Greco in the context of Progetto XXI.

From April 11 to May 24, 2014, the Morra Greco Foundation will be hosting new solo projects by Laure Prouvost (France) and Betty Bee (Italy). The exhibition, organized by the Fondazione Donnaregina per le arti contemporanee in collaboration with the Fondazione Morra Greco, is part of the Progetto XXI exhibition project.

Laure Prouvost. Polpomotorino

curated by Francesca Boenzi

The outcome of a reflection and a production that Laure Prouvost began in late 2011, during an artist’s residency in Naples, and on subsequent visits, the exhibition’s central motif is Polpomotorino, the city of Naples’ sprawling and irreducible character.

During her stay, Laure Prouvost observed the city and its corporeality; by day and night she filmed the streets, the social dynamics, the rituals that take place here. She recorded the incessant and hectic rhythm of life, the deafening noise, the briny air of the sea and the unhealthy air of the alleys. She interpreted its artistic and historical tradition, its complex interweaving of decadence, nobility and violence. The divergent sensations of this exploration flow into an exhibition that has the fragmentary structure, expressive tension and synaesthetic density of a poetic text. The center of Polpomotorino consists of a great sculpture created by assembling different parts of old scooters. It is distinguished by an ambiguous character, both monumental and playful: resembling an obelisk, it looks like a carousel, a cactus; it recalls certain fountains in the city’s squares. This sculpture is part of a large video installation that brings the street into the basement level of the Fondazione Morra Greco. The exhibition includes a number of smaller works and a large projection.

Polpomotorino is characterized by strident tones and the harsh, metallic flavor of raspberries, vivid contrasts of light and shade, and shot through with a wild, sensuous energy. It stages an interplay of reflexes and mirrorings, blurs reality and fiction, remixes forms, assails, deafens and dazzles. Laure Prouvost’s research is based on an attempt to overcome the limitations and specifics of language, and succeeds in articulating, in a non-linear narrative, complexly intertwined intangible and physical sensations. Her work explores the shifts between reality and fiction, the limits of communication, interpretation and meaning, the potential for misunderstanding and error. Her videos, characterized by a very rapid montage of images and sounds, interspersed with texts often directed at the viewer, are inserted into large installations in which the artist combines multiple languages – from sculpture to painting, drawing, collage and performances – in an attempt to grasp the physicality of reality and translate it into an equally complex artistic experience.

Betty Bee. Second Life

Betty Bee’s work can be seen as a process of self-therapy through art, disguise on one side and laying bare her soul on the other. Her existential journey and the social and affective dynamics that have distinguished it, coincide with her artistic journey conducted through performances, videos, painting and photography. If provocation and irrepressible pop-kitsch exuberance tend to characterize her photographic works, videos and performances, her output of paintings takes on a much more intimate character and the story that Bee wishes to recount on this occasion is not of violence and expiation but of change and liberation.

Second Life, the exhibition’s title, is an example of the transformation fixed on canvas by the artist, who through the exhibition of five pictorial works, discovers herself and gives a voice to the emotional developments that have characterized the most recent period of her life. The paintings on show were all produced in 2013, with the exception of a single work dating from 1998, which foreshadowed her more recent output. Indisputable symptoms of the need to protect the artist’s inner life are the two motifs recurrent in all her works: the elements of protection and fluorescent paint. Instruments of defense, such as chains, barbed wire, wire netting and honeycomb mesh attempt to fix a boundary between the viewer and the unveiling of Bee’s soul. This delimitation is necessary to safeguard an innocence preserved with difficulty because it has never been lived. At the same time fluorescent paint is used to make the existence of this other being constantly concealed less visible to the naked eye, being never shown in the physical gesture but only in the work, dominated by a naivety almost dazzling in its purity. So while in her previous works, apparently the protection was necessary because of the aesthetic aggression and arrogance of the artist with her disruptive and provocative femininity, here it is made clear that the most dangerous part of her being is the inner aspect, to be strenuously defended and made to glow with light only at night.

Each of the works occupies a room on the first floor of the Foundation, allowing each work to breathe without encroaching on the sensations of the others. The work Crust, 2013 represents the artist’s world along with the earth, the planets and intelligent thinking beings, whom Bee scrutinizes from above as if she were a huge head capable of looking at everything during the great break of the night, which with sleep takes only time away. Then follows Loneliness, 2013 in which the feeling of distance from others experienced by the artist is accentuated by the presence of the netting and the rock it is set in, a sign of her capacity to remain rational and conscious despite the temptation to get lost in herself. Again, Life,2013 recovers the optimism and childlike aspect of her painting, joyful and childish, in search of happiness between the vision and the representation of scenes like an animated cartoon. In Couple, 2013, however, the two branches in bloom at the edges of the space of the canvas are the two members of a couple, increasingly distant and unable to experience the feelings that make it possible to follow a single path in life. Untitled, 1998 launches us finally into the fabled romanticism that characterizes Betty Bee’s new output. On the occasion of the exhibition the work has been renamed The Great Beauty because, as the artist states, “It touches on the world but one that leads to nothing, because when there is something beautiful, things finally bloom again.” The little girl in Betty, grown-up outwardly but never truly inside, can therefore begin to really live and cease hiding behind gestures, impulses and actions, which she finally has the courage to abandon. Betty Bee, as a woman, has finally attained her second life, whose pulsation, this time, will not be contaminated by the viewer’s eye.


(Text by Anna Cuomo)