Extase et sublimation
The place of worship welcomes us with images like messages in a bottle, messages of promise and of warning. This buckling body, this thorny-crowned head could be our own. A woman hides her breasts and sex, a man hides his eyes: one must not give in to temptation, especially when a vengeful god is looking on. This light that pierces the darkness might indeed be divine, as is this lush nature, which gives us a glimpse of paradise. These parables are heirlooms, as, despite all the fallen crosses, cracks in the stone, and deserted mausoleums, the old dogmas still seem to hang on.
Whether in a lavish European cathedral or a modest country church in Québec, religious iconography has traditionally served to dominate thought and control bodies. The negation of sensuality and carnal pleasure has been reinforced by paintings, sculptures, and monuments, without which sinners would be exposed to the bite of the serpent and the sting of the whip. The details of these artworks, photographed by Pierre Blache and brought together on new and different altars, remind us that the impact of religion on our minds has proved to be lasting. But Blache’s photographs also manage to sublimate its symbolic power, and in so doing ritualistically exorcise us of it, freeing meaning and subverting the violence inherent in these images.
The artist thanks the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts for their support of this project.