The ghosts of the Belgian set by Olya Zarapina

Les fantômes du Belgo fixés par Olya Zarapina

Photo: Guy L’heureux
Installation view “H3B 1A2: 2019.TBD” Olya Zarapina in Skol

This is a work that may have the air of nostalgia. But the thing is-it so simple ? This sadness seems to be set out in the first place in the materials and even the theatrical device used by Olya Zarapina. The artist shows off a technology of the recent past which will seem outdated to some, or even totally mysterious to most young people.

At the center of this installation, which looks like a sheet of film is placed over its entire length on a sort of table, which is in fact an ancient sliding door of the lift. This film, very, very slowly circulates in a loop, projected on a panel. In fact, it is a film photo used in an inventive way. Thanks to an old analog device, Zarapina took pictures, but each picture taken, she has a little rewound her film in order not to have to cut between shots. After some trial and error, the artist has finally got a huge panorama, a few meters long, which is spread over five films put end to end.

This panorama is projected continuously on a screen without the need for the complex mechanical of the film projector. The result is a renewal of the original ancient technology, more than just another sad and reiteration of it. The artist speaks of his work as a form of ” photography expanded “, as it used to be about expanded cinema (expanded cinema).

The subject treated in this work and the way it is approached to participate in this memory reinvented, this mix of temporalities between the old and the new. In a curious mise en abyme, this “film” sets the stage for the various floors of the building Belgo, a place of art in Quebec, building on Sainte-Catherine street, where the public press, in particular Saturdays, in order to see contemporary art centers, galleries and artists. This place will seem here old, the color often ochre of the image and its soft edges — obtained by the old lens of a projector soviet re-used, adding a look of old-fashioned at all.

It looks like an old-time movie remontré after years of neglect and that the colors would be a little tarnished. To complete this portrait of the Belgian, Zarapina was superimposed on the film of the names of galleries and shops that are currently closed or have relocated, but who have yet made the reputation of this building : Optica, Joyce Yahouda, SAS, Nicolas Robert, René Blouin, Dominique Bouffard, Mistral… and the list goes on ! An evil chance willed that the galerie Trois Points in its last day of operation one of the days where the artist “turned” his film. It is also noted that the store Fabricville and the restaurant Piz Pistol were part of the cultural landscape is heterogeneous. All of this amplifies the atmosphere of sadness for the whole… The Belgian would it no longer be what it was ?

This installation is therefore as a form of nostalgic cultural ? Unless this is the culture that is still a little case of nostalgia in our popular culture which still has much trouble with the contemporary. Let’s remember that this is Chantal Boulanger and René Blouin, who, in September 1986, were the first to open art galleries on the 5th floor of this building. Installed next to factories of fur, they launched this building in the art world, a place that attracted by a large number of galleries. This made the place that he had to see to know what was going on in Quebec. And our days ? One would rather perceive this work as a consecration of this place which, with its ten contemporary art galleries, is still very active. Until the day where a real estate developer will want to make a building to condos.

In the end, what is even more fascinating in this work is its resistance to the image. Plunged into darkness, with its image, evanescent, this work proves to be the most difficult to photograph, document by the image, to watch even. One examines the image to identify. We’re trying to find, then that one is oneself in the same building. The photography challenge the photography. A reminder that art — even old ones — is always a dialogue with the present moment, in a back-and-forth with a present moment always also fragile, culturally, as fragile as it was.

H3B 1A2 : 2019.TBD

Of Olya Zarapina. Centre des arts actuels Skol, until 16 February.

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