Marie-Claire Blais and Pascal Grandmaison
La vie abstraite 1 : Le temps transformé /
La vie abstraite 2 : Espace du silence
Time moves both forwards and backwards in Marie-Claire Blais and Pascal Grandmaison’s latest exhibition presented at Galerie René Blouin in Montréal’s Old Port. La vie abstraite 1 & 2 are two-channel video projections that span the space of three darkened rooms. As the films move between the abstract and the figurative, the viewer’s sense of scale, both spatial and temporal, is distorted.
Espace du silence comprises four synchronized projections that run for thirty-five minute intervals. Standing within the gallery’s first room, only two of the four projections are visible. On the screen, a crumpled piece of paper burns slowly in reverse. Tiny pieces of ash crawl up the peaks and valleys of the paper, finding their rightful place along the flamed edges; when the chronology is flipped, fire is regenerative. Seen from the second room, the panoramic effect of the four screens is fully appreciated. The two rooms present different points of view of the paper in the process of dissolution or renewal; depending on the screen, you are either moving forwards or backwards in time. As the paper restores its original shape, a blue and black grid emerges from the flames. This is an ode to Piet Mondrian’s paintings, an abstraction of colour divided by geometric lines. Rosalind Krauss writes that “the grid is a way of abrogating the claims of natural objects to have an order particular to themselves.” The incineration of the grid in Blais and Grandmaison’s film invokes a dialogue between the abstract and the natural; between a fire that illuminates and one that extinguishes everything in its path.