‘You are deeper than what you think’ by Laure Prouvost is the artist’s first public commission in the UK, an ambitious city-wide series of posters infiltrating advertising sites across all 270 London Underground stations.
Prouvost has created posters in print, for digital screens and the cover of six million pocket Tube maps as well as major installations at Heathrow and Stratford stations that bookend the project from east to west London. In these sites the artist draws on her own tradition of sign-painting alongside London Underground’s early history of wayfinding and graphic design, where signs were produced by hand. Each poster is a digital reproduction of a hand-painted sign complete with a sentence devised specifically for the Underground in its iconic Johnston typeface, with corporate logos painted too.
Synonymous with Prouvost’s distinctly playful and poetic voice where English is her second language, the crux of the project begins with the poster ‘you are deeper than what you think’, an interplay between the literal place the work is encountered and a reminder that there is more inside all of us than we might initially feel. Further works include ‘oh stay with us the party has just begun’ that fills the atrium at Heathrow station and ‘ideally these words would pause everything now’ a 20 metre sign at Stratford station that directly addresses the millions of passengers who commute through Stratford station each day.
Recurring throughout the commission is Prouvost’s Grand Ma, a long-standing figure in the artist’s work. Floating through blue skyscapes Grand Ma appears in Bethnal Green, Notting Hill and Stratford stations as well as on the cover of the Spring 2019 edition of the pocket Tube map.
‘You are deeper than what you think’ combines language and images to construct invented storylines that explore the slippage between fiction and reality, inviting viewers to question how we read, look and understand or misunderstand the world around us.
The commission launched on 20 June 2019 with a performance by Shards Choir at Stratford station, written by Prouvost, and celebrating London, the UK and our relationship to the EU.
The project formed a part of Art on the Underground’s 2019 programme exploring what it means to be on the edges, whether individually, collectively, politically and socially.