By Louise Déry
As Dominique Blain’s exhibition Déplacements was being presented in Paris,<sup>1</sup> Venice was suffering a flood so terrible that we were once again anguished about the possibility of seeing this incomparable treasure of world heritage disappear. Not so long ago, it was Notre-Dame de Paris that was severely damaged, this time by fire, before the incredulous eyes of thousands of witnesses gathered on the bridges, piers, and neighbouring streets and those watching on their screens the world over. The mobilization of hearts and minds is particularly pointed when such tragedies occur and the international community rises in solidarity, for good reason, to engage in repairs – often “spectacularized” – as exemplary donations and calls for contributions are made. Yet, in many parts of the world, it is not natural catastrophe or accidents that threaten the patrimony, but deliberate acts of destruction. These acts, of a hallucinatory scope, are part of a spiral of programmed eradication of peoples through war and exile, putting in danger both life and the symbols that, like art, are part of its essence.
This contextualization for talking about work by Dominique Blain, who focuses on the relationship between art and war, highlights that what we call the patrimony is a foundation for individual and collective imagination. Because it designates a shared heritage of assets and rights that we have always considered inalienable and transmissible, “patrimony” imposes the imperative that we protect it, control its theft or loss, and give it precedence as the very basis of our poor humanity, which is powerless, in too many cases, to save life itself. Déplacements, shown at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, evokes all of this; in particular, the works Monuments II and Dérives embody the main issues around the peril in which works and human lives are put when subjected to the horrors of war…
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