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The Hidden Camera Fictions of Nicolas Provost

In Pictures is a still and moving image gallery for significant works, events and places

Stardust (film still), 2010
Stardust (film still), 2010 © Nicolas Provost 2010. Courtesy Haunch of Venison London

Nicolas Provost is an award-winning artist and filmmaker whose work has been shown at film festivals and galleries around the world. This week sees the opening of his first solo exhibition in the UK, at the Haunch of Venison. His work reflects the grammar of cinema and the relationship between visual art and the cinematic experience. “I feel that my work is both art and cinema”, explains Provost. “The most powerful idea to me is that we are all part of a collective film memory. I think we tell each other the same stories with the same archetypes and structures, but with new actualities and new ideas...

Nicolas Provost is an award-winning artist and filmmaker whose work has been shown at film festivals and galleries around the world. This week sees the opening of his first solo exhibition in the UK, at the Haunch of Venison. His work reflects the grammar of cinema and the relationship between visual art and the cinematic experience. “I feel that my work is both art and cinema”, explains Provost. “The most powerful idea to me is that we are all part of a collective film memory. I think we tell each other the same stories with the same archetypes and structures, but with new actualities and new ideas. Retelling the same stories in new ways is telling a new story.”

The exhibition’s title, Stardust, is taken from Provost’s 2010 film, which was in competition at the Venice Film Festival in September. Filmed in Las Vegas and featuring cameos from Jon Voight, Jack Nicholson, Danny Trejo and the last recorded footage of Dennis Hopper, it is the second in a trilogy of films that investigate the boundaries between fiction and reality.

“It started with Plot Point [2007] in New York,” explains Provost. “I wanted to make a semi-documentary, and film real cops but at some point ask them to act out fictional scenes. Since it was impossible to get the NYPD to collaborate, I decided to do it with a hidden camera, using real people as fictive characters and the city as a film location. The idea of filming with a hidden camera and turning it into a Hollywood style fiction film seemed to raise interesting questions about whether it is reality or fiction that influences the other.” The third chapter of the trilogy, which follows the journey of a fictive serial killer as he prowls around Tokyo looking for victims, is still in the editing process.

Whereas during the making of Plot Point, everything was filmed by a hidden camera, around ten percent of Stardust was set up. Provost remains guarded about exactly how he came to include four Hollywood heavyweights in the cast list to Stardust. “How I managed to film them all is something I like to keep secret for the sake of the concept of the film,” he says. “The viewer prefers the experience of being intrigued to knowing the mystery, but I can say that I met them and filmed them myself. It is not found footage. I thought that blending Hollywood stars with real people would be an interesting thing to do in this trilogy. But it is also my tribute to them, because they have offered me so much inspiration and love for cinema.”

Text by Caroline Lever

Stardust runs at the Haunch of Venison from 30 November 2010 – 29 January 2011

Caroline Lever is the Dazed Group Editorial Project Manager

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