Raymond Queneau’s 1947 novel Exercices de style recounts the simple tale of a man taking a bus journey 99 times, and each time the story is told in a different style. Most of us take the same journeys very regularly – to work, to school, to university, to the shops. We walk down the same roads, take the same trains, go to the same grocery store, and repeat the same things over and over again. The overall experience might appear the same on the surface, but the minutiae of what is seen and felt are entirely different every time. Laure has described the impetus to make Deep Blue Sea as a wish to try and understand ourselves better. Yet will we understand ourselves better by remaining in familiar territory or by travelling somewhere else? Will we escape ourselves through travel, or will we arrive only to realize that we’re the product of where we came from? Although she often uses everyday behaviours and objects, Laure’s work has a fairy-tale quality: the stories are often fantastical in nature, as if the protagonists are seeking a treasure at the end of the rainbow, the mirage across the desert, a cottage made of candy – some kind of radical transformation at their journey’s conclusion.
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Like me, and like many people, Laure is searching for something. But, like me, and like many people, she doesn’t quite know what it is, which makes it impossible to actually find. Each time she discovers or learns something new, she quickly realizes that she’s misunderstood it – that its surface, image, letters or sound are not what they initially appear. And each time she realizes this, she pushes through the image to find what’s behind it, rearranges the letters to see what they reveal, and whispers the words out loud to hear their secrets. Laure described her idea for Deep Blue Sea Surrounding You/Vois ce bleu profond te fondre as being entirely about the journey that took place to make it – one which, like my volcano ascent, has no climax, nor tangible ending, but is ultimately about the experience of being with other people along the way.
Deep See Blue Surrounding You/Vois ce bleu profond te fondre, May 11 to November 24, French Pavilion, Venice Biennale.