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21.02.2017 | Words by: Mathis Neuhaus.

Collective memory can be fascinating. There are people, places and things in this world that are so excessively depicted (in the cinema, the news, the television) that there is simply no way around them. Being unbiased is an impossibility. You think that you know what New York is supposed to feel like, even though you’ve never been. Or you brush off Las Vegas as a neon-lit Gomorrah, a conditioned anticipation essentially shaped by Hollywood. The image machine that just never stops. It constantly produces stories and experiences that are implicitly embedded in many of us, our doings and our beliefs. 

In his video works, the Belgian artist Nicolas Provost tries to maneuver around this setup, or more precisely: use it as the starting point for a subversive approach that provides further possibilities of interpretation. By tapping into our collective filmic memory and subtly changing it, he creates new narratives from old imagery. A strategy that pays off. By doing so, he produces not only visually stunning works, but adds something to the ever-present and ever-important discourse of authorship, power and the possibilities of its disruption.

The exhibition in De School will be compiled of four short films: In De Aula, The Perfect Wave is going to be shown. EGO from 2016, the newest of the four works, has its place in De Cinema, Storyteller is screened in De Garderobe and Papillon d’Amour in Het Kunstlokaal – different stages in an environment that provides just the right surroundings for thinking about alternative readings of (supposedly) set agendas. Once again, the satisfying combination of night life and visual arts will come to fruition. While floating through the building, be prepared to be taken away by not only the music, but also the shown video works and their hypnotizing appeal. 

Enter De Cinema. EGO is on view, a dizzying and vibrant trip through cosmos, relying on images from existing films such as Stanley Kubrick’s opus 2001: A Space Odyssey. Steadily rising its intensity, it only offers release through a climax that should not be spoiled here. One thing has to be said about it though: it is a release in the truest sense of the word.

Afterwards, drift over to Het Kunstlokaal. A room that has proven to be just the right space for anything hypnotic. This observation will be affirmed repeatedly, when Papillon d’amour, from 2003, is on show during the next weeks and lures all you curious people into the room. Based on mirrored fragments from the film Rashomon by Akira Kurosawa it transforms a woman’s reverse chrysalis into an imploding butterfly. There is a simple cinematic trick on use here, but nonetheless to a striking effect. And wait, until you hear the music accompanying it.  

Nicolas Provost uses a comparable approach, to a different effect, in his work Storyteller. It shows recomposed aerial shots from the Las Vegas casino skyline. The work is everything mentioned in the preface of this text in a nutshell: subtly modified images of a place with a certain reputation. Storyteller taps into collective memory and provides an alternative interpretation, one that balances between the figurative and the abstract and one that shines a different light on Nevada’s exploited desert oasis.

And finally, you will see The Perfect Wave. The title already reveals a lot. Everyone certainly knows the feeling of being on a streak. That everything works out just like it is supposed to. The Perfect Wake evokes this excitement and emphasizes a desire that comes with it: hopefully this never stops.
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