Patrick Beaulieu : for intérieur
Text by Danica Stamenic
Patrick Beaulieu’s multi-disciplined practice creates finely tuned and subtle gestures that aim to re-focus our attention on the physical world that we see and experience. In conversation with a trilogy of on-the-road Odysseys that he will be completing in 2012 with Daniel Canty, Beaulieu brings together natural and manmade remnants from his personal expeditions, breaking down their perceived differences along the way. For intérieur (Deep Down), pays homage to things that once lived, bled, smoldered, and buzzed. Through flat images and installations, a host of natural histories occupy the gallery space in varying size, height, movement, and volume.
Portable scanners capture high-resolution images of bloodstained goose feathers, each one given special attention in the center of the scan. These small particles of flight and migration – collected from the forest floor – leave plenty of questions about their former host body unanswered, but float between life and death as independent forms. Forty migratory geese wings, cast in aluminum, seem to quiver above hundreds of programmed LEDs positioned on the gallery floor. Like the bloody spots on the scanned images, the metal coating re-defines the feathers, presumably once supported by life and air. And still the glow of red light seems to whisper a path for continuation.
Digital prints of glowing embers freeze the final moment before the scanner explodes from the intense heat of the dying coal. But the show’s smallest installation is perhaps its most powerful. A tiny, black and blue night fly buzzes in tight rotation, audibly hitting the gallery wall again and again during the course of its self-destructive orbit. As with Beaulieu’s Braises, a switch is flipped on, and life is gently pushed back into the process of burning out.
The varying elements in Beaulieu’s work are lively, but running throughout you can feel a tension with the absence of life. The missing connections between these fragments and their original energy source are as notable as the images and objects themselves. Cast, scanned, and re-charged, For intérieur shimmers between burial and flight. With this in mind, Beaulieu delivers quiet, intense glimpses that tune in to the rhythmic pulse of life just as they acknowledge its limits, as well as our own. Representations and the tools that make them have their own boundaries. So do we. But by capturing these small, forgotten traces, Beaulieu asks us to reexamine our own vista, and perhaps open our eyes a bit wider.