This documentary video presents the work created by brook & black for the Ashmolean as a culmination of the project Beyond the Balcony. In their research, brook & black discovered the great great granddaughter of Mlle Fanny Claus, Sophie Prins-Gapinski, which opened up new ways of interpreting Manet’s painting.
A professional female musician, Fanny moved in artistic circles and was married to the Impressionist artist Pierre Prins. The umbrella installation (the manufacture umbrellas contributed to the Prins’s wealth) opens and closes, and we hear a collage of sounds from contemporary Paris and words spoken by Fanny’s descendent Sophie Prins-Gapinski. She reads from a catalogue published by Fanny and Pierre’s son, Emile Pierre Prins in 1949. The extract recalls his visit to Manet’s studio shortly after his mother’s death and the conversation between himself, his father and Manet on looking at his mother’s portrait.
The video shows a woman looking directly from her easel across to the painting of Fanny Claus. This is Sophie Prins-Gapinski, herself an artist living in Paris. These moments, of mixing the colours and blacks found so often in the works of Manet, directly onto the screen, are cut with views of Paris today. The city may look the same, but the view of our world and Paris itself has radically changed with the passing of time and the events of November 2015.