Dominique Blain “Missa” (1992)

shoes hanging from the ceiling

Dominique Blain “Missa” (1992)

100 pairs of army boots, mono-filament, metal grid, 700 x 700 cm

In the installation Missa, a hundred pairs of army boots suspended on nylon strings are arranged in a square grid. Raised slightly off the floor, the right-foot boots suggest the synchronised movement of military marching. The overall effect conjures up the destructive violence of political regimes that manipulate dehumanized troops like puppets. Although it was conceived in 1992, Missa continues to resonate wherever it is exhibited. This sensitive exploration of a military accessory, linked to individual soldiers but expressing a collective action, spans the history of wars and the atrocities they breed.

In her multidisciplinary practice, the Montréal artist Dominique Blain denounces the oppression that stems from relationships of power. She approaches historical references with restraint, using a few carefully chosen images and objects to arouse individual and collective memories. Leaving room for imagination, her socially engaged art gives viewers the leeway needed to reflect on the subject of war and totalitarianism. Blain’s work has been widely shown in Canada, the United States, Europe and Australia, notably at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and in the 1992 Sydney Biennale. [credit]

A nearly deafening silence immediately strikes the viewer of Blain’s remarkably spartan installation. This soundlessness continues to resonate – and change – as one walks around her three-dimensional grid of strings and shoes, filling in its absences with haunting narratives and dark associations. Ominous connections between facelessness and force, blind obedience and inhuman strength, a sense of belonging and one of being utterly lost gain clarity as one contemplates her austere memorial to war and its – often abstract – if all-too-real consequences.

– David Pagel, Dominique Blain, Art Forum, 1993

many pairs of shoes

Dominique Blain “Missa” (1992-2012)