For several years, Dominique Blais has explored the potential of light and sound in specific spaces, occupying a land of the in-between and infinite smallness, in order to create intimate atmospheres and conditions that lend themselves to mental projections. He plays with questions of time and light, even that which is imperceptible – as much on a visual as on an audible plane – as well as with energy and flux.
The artist’s work is characterized by the simplicity, and sometimes even a minimalist manner, with which the apparatus and mediums are displayed. Although his exhibitions are most often occasions to engage with in situ interventions, he makes an exception for his third exhibition at the Xippas Gallery. He chooses to present an ensemble of so-called “domestic” pieces; the term references the scale and independence with regards to the space. Together these artworks question time and shape an informal space into moments, energies, and movements.
On the first floor, the spectator discovers Light House, a video that serves as an introduction to the exhibition and that was produced during a recent residency at the Nida Art Colony in Lithuania (which has a lighthouse). The color red that saturates the image decontextualized and dematerializes the object and gives it another function: here, the uniform rhythm of the lamp’s beam functions as a timepiece.
Currently at the CIRVA Residency (International Center for Glass and Visual Arts Research) in Marseille, Dominique Blais has produced a series of pieces that he considers a statement regarding his collaboration with the art center. Untitled (The Air Columns), Sans titre (Les colonnes d’air), are glass sculptures stemming from a pilgrim’s staff that refers to the quintessential instrument of glass blowers, the blowpipe. “Similar to the field of music and more precisely that of wind instruments, the blowpipe becomes an extension, a member, an appendage.” This cane is an effusion of man’s breath and the tool that extends the body’s movement It also stands at the intersection of the artist’s research concerning the idea of time through phenomena linked to transformative material and also the moving body. The cane’s movement, whether it punctuates the exhibition space or accompanies other artworks, becomes a metaphor for thought as a creative act. The object has been positioned at an angle with the wall that recalls Yvan Salomone’s exhibition.
The artwork Concrete Soundproof is made up of a high fidelity stereo and two gray parallelepipeds sitting directly on the floor. The two concrete blocks, which seem to be faux speakers due to their shape and their position, are wired to a tape recorder and an amplifier. In reality, these shapes are the “negatives” or the inside shape of the speakers. The artist poured a mixture of cement and various other soundproofing materials into the wooden exterior of the speakers. After having first removed the speakers’ baffles, he dunked them in a mix of concrete fibers. Having become functional again, the apparatus plays music that is barely audible, similar to a soft humming that drifts throughout the exhibition space.
Now that a new lunar month began January 31st, Dominique Blais has begun a daily correspondence with the Xippas Gallery entitled Phases of the Moon. His protocol is to systematically send an envelope with a card inside, signed and stamped with an image corresponding to the phase of the moon the day the letter was sent via the postal service and their date stamp in turn activates the piece day after day.
The Conductors, Les Conducteurs (2007-2014), are composed to two transparent light bulbs sealed to contain the copper fragments; the placement and/or potential residue from an in situ installation produced in 2007 at the Dojo in Nice. The hanging cables of the original artwork The Waves, Les Ondes, evoke, among other things, the fact that the venue houses an advertising agency and an exhibition space in the same space.
The diptych Ten Hours Stories (Jan.15), a series of framed photographs depicting the sunrise and sunset at Los Angeles January 15th, 2003, functions as parenthesis that opens and closes: an elliptical spacetime or a space of mental representations. A second piece, present in a hidden space in the gallery acts as a manifestation of this process. Two light boxes frame images of a sunset and a sunrise taken at Nida (Lithuania) and they illuminate for one minute a day, at the exact times that the pictures were taken.
Dominique Blais was born in 1974. He graduated from the Regional School of Fine Arts in Nantes and the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts in Paris. His artwork has been featured in solo exhibitions at Mac/Val (Vitry-sur-Seine), at Maison du Peuple (Clichy), at BF15 (Lyon), at Transpalette (Bourges), as well as in group exhibitions such as Art By Telephone … Recalled, Between Time and History at the Vilnius Arts Academy and L’apparition des images at the Ricard Foundation (Paris).
His works are currently on display in the exhibitions Dernières nouvelles de l’Ether at La Panacée (Montpellier) and Les dérivés de la photographie – Lumière noire in the Frac Aquitaine (Bordeaux).
Dominique Blais was awarded the 2013 Celeste Prize for Curator’s Choice.