Laurent Pernot was born in 1980, and lives and works in Paris. He holds a university degree and is a graduate of Le Fresnoy national studio of contemporary arts. His unique career has been punctuated with numerous residencies and exhibitions in both France and abroad.
Laurent Pernot experiments with temporal, poetic and immersive processes by exploring all forms of expression, from the conception of installations to the production of images.
His creations recurrently revolve around the notions of the visible and invisible, time and the confusions of memory, and are inspired by the imagination of science and the history haunting both the individual and society alike. Identity, fragility and the origins and limits of life are among his major themes, and are often developed against the tide of the principles belonging to modernity and mass culture. The exploration of the fictional potential of exhibition spaces and the relationship to the viewer are also crucial to the artist.
Elene Pritchat, AQNB, An interview with Laurent Pernot, August, 2013 – Excerpt
Laurent Pernot is among those enlightened artists who are neither boring nor condescending. If his work is often backed up with the cerebral social sciences, it has a deep and immediate sensitivity, turning up that way because the topics haunting him surround individuals and society, since time immemorial, and are universal in scope. Some of them include the elusive nature of power, childhood tales and memories, death or the passing of time. Using symbols that our imagination and childhood memories can refer to –like a King’s cross on a pile of dust, an enclosed window with curtains still moving –the first level of understanding is easily reached; his approach to art, frugal, intimate, and effective. The next step, for most viewers, will be to understand why the atmospheric power of his art lingers on for so long. Most of his works are opened-ended poems, combining joy or hope with the idea of death and hopelessness. They engage the audience on a very personal level, with craft, imagination and subtlety.
The unbridled intellectual curiosity of the artist involves travelling through time -from Antiquity to the present day -to the point that it may be a question of recognising the past to provide a better understanding of the future.
This goes hand-in-hand with Pernot’s permanent development in the use of media. Indeed, at the start of his young career, he was focused on purely image-based work, being immersed in learning photography. But, he quickly realized that he was “not at all interested in the commercial pictures market”, while studying photography and multimedia under the guidance of renowned critic, Dominique Baqué, at the University of Paris VIII. That’s when he started opening up to video, digital pictures, the history of photography, semiology and contemporary art.
At 33 years old, Pernot gives the impression of a calm strength, the kind that was built slowly but surely. There is an air of the “self-educated man” around him, probably due to the fact that he came from a family with fewer cultural resources. His intellectual and personal development, as opposed to a model probably too restricted, took the path of art, travel and, of course, extensive reading. One of his recent pieces, ‘Cartography’ (2012), embodies the role of books in access to the outer world, as an object of knowledge, but also the precariousness of memory and culture for each individual. Committed to representing the globe, the artist used the ashes of his own books by the likes of Gaston Bachelard, Charles Baudelaire, Samuel Beckett, John Keats, Susan Sontag and Simone Weil. But Pernot is not the type to waste time name-dropping. Discreet but open, deep and talkative when comfortable, Laurent Pernot’s is certainly an intriguing presence.
An angel, Laurent Pernot is an angel. He stands gazing at the visible and invisible, reaches out and touches the stars, marveling at what is evanescent, unstable and ungraspable, at the volatile – and of course, fragile – figures that pass, shine, then in the blink of an eye, fade back into limbo to renew themselves. To do this, Laurent Pernot uses video, installation and photography which is sometimes projected, yet always favors movement and the impermanence of things.
Philippe Piguet, L’Oeil Magazine, N°652 – Making the Invisible Visible – Excerpt
To the idea of flow, the artist joins the quest for a state which wavers between appearance and disappearance. His latest exhibition at the Odile Ouizeman Gallery was a new formulation between historical reappropriation of a past fact – the Scopes Trial – and poetic imagination. Photos, video, objects and neon lights were assembled to inform a separate world whose content rested on the quest for origins – of the universe, life and humanity.
Dominique Abensour, Phenomena – Biennale of Contemporary Art, Bourges – Exhibition text – Excerpt
Heterogenous, inhabited by innumerable constellations of questions, his limits remain undetermined. Rather than clear, distinct zones of knowledge and experience, the artist prefers those of doubt and uncertainty, at the borders of reality and imagination. From the conception of installations to the production of static or moving images, his projects take multiple forms through which he explores the realms of human adventure: life and death, the corners of memory, the dimensions of time, the visible and the invisible. Enigmatic and at times spectacular, his works are fueled as much by current research in anthropology, astrophysics or ecology as by references to film, painting and literature.
Guy Boyer, Connaissance des Arts, September 10, 2012 – Poetic itinerary for autumn gallery openings in Paris – Excerpt
Young Laurent Pernot recomposes nature through video by recreating primitive nature and shifting clouds, while alluding to the Monkey Trial which took place in the US in 1925.
Marianne Derrien, Turbulences Vidéo, October 2012 – Excerpt
Laurent Pernot’s sculptural video installation plays even more with the quality of mediums and their overlapping. Untitled (Rose), a modest and effective work, is an actual rose that lies burning on the floor against a wall (…). Visual counterpoint or enchanted readymade, this work examines through artifice the very question of vanity.
Bénédicte Ramade, Monographic catalogue – L’Eldorado – Excerpt
All the images were actually shot using flashlights, the etchings also spring to life beneath the circles of light then disappear as if blown out, giving viewers the feeling they’ve missed the truth. Light reveals and hides, and also wonderfully embodies Laurent Pernot’s investigations. The exploration of these images takes place by retinal groping, like a slow pulsation in an intentional confusion of issues. [...] The image excavates entrails, unearths rustles and sparkles. The light diffracted and beheld in myriad particles deploys its diamondlike, hypnotic properties. Gold is miraculously everywhere, we believe. These rocks turn liquid, fluid. Time melts like the places Laurent Pernot contracted, in a relationship of brutal consequences.
Roxana Azimi, Le Quotidien de l’Art, N°33 – Sweetness Incarnate – Excerpt
Laurent Pernot lets images create their own secret tale. By tracking ghosts of the past both in cavernous darkness and in Baroque liturgical art, the film plays with apparition, or better yet, epiphany. The light from flashlights skims and caresses the dripping walls of the caves as well as the flaking angels touched by grace.
Raphaël Cuir, Moods Magazine – Excerpt
(…) Laurent Pernot’s works are often figures of time, in other words, of the open (Bergson), of what changes each moment in the flow of life that joins what is infinitely near with what is infinitely far within us: star dust. (…) We are confronted here with the incongruity of our tiny stories that make up the great and derisive human adventure before the expansive macrocosm: vertigo of magnitudes.
Damien Sausset, Excerpt from The Passenger, monographic catalogue, éditions Monografik, 2010
Laurent Pernot’s entire practice begins here, in this determination to investigate what structures our contemporary world, what provides its new myths and, in the end, offers the sole horizon which enables us to understand daily life. (…) Delving into an image and finding the clue to a crime, such was the work of Antonioni or Godard. Finding the traces of a re-enchantment in the heart of the image, such is Laurent Pernot’s. (…) Far from morbid and focused on death, several of his works question time and its objects which appear like fragments of a whole to be pieced back together.
Annabelle Gugnon, Exhibition catalogue Who are you, Peter?, Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton (2010) – Excerpt
Laurent Pernot is a lamplighter. In the night, he sets off sparks, they light up stories. Unlike the lamplighter the Little Prince meets on the fifth – and miniscule – planet, the world Laurent Pernot explores is infinite. (…) “Where do we come from?” The question is the black canvas onto which he projects people and stories, makes wind blow and voices call out. (…) The question insists until permafrost sets in, collecting the phosphorescent silence of icebergs or branching off toward an accelerated birth of mountains. In quest of traces.
Stéphane Bouquet, Excerpt from press release, Théâtre de la Cité Internationale, Paris
Laurent Pernot’s work enjoys a strong relationship with an imagination inhabited by the complexity of life, and the representation of origins of the universe. (…) Contradictions are used to organize the viewer’s gaze and make him or her feel how unsure perception can be.
Irène Bellier, La Séance, curated by Alexandra Fau – Excerpt
A trio by Schubert replaces a long speech to evoke the earth’s breathing and situate us within a temporality that enhances the fragility of the individual.
Hubert Charbit, DAAC Grenoble – Excerpt
Looking over his works, we quickly realize that they constantly, relentlessly attempt to grasp this double mystery: the emergence of presence as well as its disappearance and recollection. (…) The effect is undeniably aesthetic, but no doubt more of an aesthetic of the Sublime than the Beautiful, in the sense that here pleasure is rather close to that of dreams and there is also an element of anxiety. (…)From Christian Boltanski to Laurent Pernot, to my mind, there is a potential family tie.
Harry Bellet, Le Monde (10.01.2009) – Excerpt
Born in 1980, Laurent Pernot is one of the revelations of the famous Le Fresnoy school. This personal exhibition lets us take stock of the quality and extreme sophistication of an art that is already fully developed. Photos and videos with the pretext of night, a more provocative darkness than natural, in keeping with the unsettling title of his exhibition “Le ciel est devenu noir” (The sky’s gone dark).
Louis-José Lestocart, Art Press n°342 – Excerpt
(…) One by one, these bodies appear and fade in a sort of Fleischerian meditation on the passage of time, destination and memory.
Anne Malherbe, Art & You – Excerpt
Laurent Pernot’s works are developed around an investigation of the boundaries separating reality on one side, from imagination and the void on the other.
Vanessa Morisset, How to Reconcile with the Universe – Excerpt
A “skull revival”, an era conducive to “necromancers”, this current creation bears a strange relationship to death and time. Maybe because “vanitas means a state of emptiness: an atemporal sensation that finds a particular response in our era of overconsumption and intense communication.” In the context of this macabre tendancy, Laurent Pernot’s work suggests an entirely different stance in terms of finitude – one that is downplayed and serene.
Raphaël Gatel, Exhibition catalogue What Meaning?, Odile Ouizeman Gallery, Paris, 2007 – Excerpt
His work paints the portrait of a fragmented and multiple identity, characteristic of the end of the cult of images*, whose virtual manipulations underscore its illusory nature.
*Serge Tisseron, L’intimité Surexposée (Overexposed Intimacy), Hachette littératures, 2003
Marie-Thérèse Champesme, Once Upon a Time, Fondation MIRO, Barcelona, 2006 – Excerpt
Laurent Pernot’s world is peopled with intermittent presences, bodies we cannot grasp because they are nothing but particles of light. They are rendered visible through projection (video or slides), making us starry-eyed witnesses to their apparition. But no sooner are we touched by their presence than they fade back into the shadows. Occasionally leaving the place to others who, in turn, emerge then disappear. As Laurent Pernot says, “they blink between life and death.”