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‘Untitled/Protection’, by Artist Dominique Blain, Enters the MMFA Collection

The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) is pleased to add Dominique Blain’s Untitled/Protection (1989) to its contemporary collection, thanks to a donation from Erik Deslandres. This large-scale installation, on display in the Jean-Noël Desmarais Pavilion, is the 12th work by the Montreal artist to enter the MMFA collection.

In her multifaceted artistic practice, Dominique Blain skillfully evokes and revives historical events in a way that cuts to the heart of various political issues. Untitled/Protection invites us to meditate on the destruction of heritage, past and present. The installation transports the visitor to the middle of a battlefield, inside a trench made from hundreds of sandbags. On the central wall of the installation hang 11 photographs from the book I monumenti italiani e la Guerra (Italian monuments and the war) by Ugo Ojetti. Displayed in golden frames, the photographs are symbolically transformed into works of art.

Published in 1917, Ugo Ojetti’s work presents various constructions used to shelter sculptures and monuments from the bombings. Throughout the book, the author juxtaposes photographs of these artworks before and after being covered by the makeshift structures. His hope was to sensitize the public to the potential destruction of cultural heritage in times of war. Blain’s installation somewhat builds on Ojetti’s work. Taking images from the book, she strikes visitors’ imaginations while drawing their attention to a type of devastation that sadly persists today. She sees it as a gesture of hope and faith in humanity.

Dominique Blain (born in 1957), Untitled/Protection, 1989, gelatin silver prints on polymeric film mounted on canvas, gilt frames, burlap bags. MMFA, gift of Erik Deslandres. Photo Dominique Blain.