(3-30 June, 2021)
It’s often full of holes. It can be living or emotional, like an elephant’s or like a sieve. It can be worked on, it makes us who we are, often it’s all we have left. Its loss—whether our own or that of a loved one—is tragic. Memory is precious, perhaps because, as we all know, it is irretrievably fragmented, selective.
This month on Quarantined Museum, we proposed a reflection on memory as an active process. The museum is a locus for preserving objects of the past and for creating tomorrow’s memories. With the return of nice weather and the coming launch of the summer exhibitions, the Musée d’art de Joliette (MAJ) is bustling with activity. The theme for the season’s program is collections; more precisely, the MAJ is engaging in an exercise of self-reflection on the act of collecting—an important part of its mission. Three contemporary artists have been invited to revisit our collections, each in his or her own way, while two projects directed by the Collections department showcase an array of works the Museum recently acquired or is about to acquire.
In particular, during a residency at the MAJ last year, Martin Désilets documented our works in storage following a strict, self-imposed protocol. The resulting photographs, along with the series Matière noire, raise a question in my mind: can a single photograph preserve the memory of an entire segment of a collection of art works, or even of all of art history? In his Lieux-Monuments series, also to be exhibited this season, Désilets captured iconic locations with a lensless digital camera. The outcome is something like the trace of the passage of light in a particular space-time, rather than the distinct memory of the location-monument facing the artist.