Since 2017, Martin Désilets has been methodically photographing modern and contemporary works exhibited in museums that he visits throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe. He superimposes the resulting digital images following a strict protocol, with the ultimate objective of creating a monochromatic black photograph that exhausts the gaze, a paradoxical work testifying to the sum of all that he has observed while seeming to offer nothing to see. How much time do we spend in front of a work in order to truly appreciate it? How do we consume works of art? Does the fantasy of completion lurk behind any act of collection?
The Matière noire [Dark Matter] project highlights several issues relevant to museum practices. That is why the MAJ has invited the artist to pursue his reflection with a creative residency in the Museum’s spaces. Inspired by the thematic display of the MAJ collection in the exhibition Les îles réunies [The Reunited Islands], Désilets has chosen to adapt his initial protocol to do an inventory of the still lifes, landscapes, portraits, and abstract paintings in MAJ storage or exhibited in its galleries. The resulting photographs will accompany the Museum works, along with excerpts from the Matière noire production, and will draw a unique portrait of the Museum’s collection.
Martin Désilets has completed a two-month residency in the MAJ reserves between January and July 2020.
The artist acknowledges the support of the Conseil des arts de Longueuil, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Agglomération de Longueuil and Culture Montérégie.
Martin Désilets has taken part in numerous residencies since 2015, in Bâle, New York, Paris, Berlin, and at Gros-Morne National Park, Newfoundland. His work has been the subject of many exhibitions, in Montreal (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Occurrence, B-312, Circa, Optica), Laval (Maison des arts), Toronto (G44 Gallery), Oakville (Oakville Galleries), Paris (Gest Paris), Berlin (Institut für Alles Mögliche), and Beirut (Espace SD). His works can also be found in private and public collections, including those of the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. The exhibition at the Musée d’art de Joliette follows an artist residency that Désilets conducted in the storage spaces of the Museum in 2020.