THE VOYEUR AND THE PERSPECTIVE
Painting gave him composition and sculpture, changing points of view. Scissors and his exquisite conception of human body, have given him a name. Damien Blottière is a collage voyeur.
What inspired you to make collage?
Originally, I was into painting. However, I realized I wasn’t good enough to express my vision through it, so I started making collage with pictures I would find in magazines. Then eventually I started using my own images.
Masks are also another reoccurring motif. Faces are often multiplied, reconfigured, and presented in different angles at the same time. One single point of view isn’t enough?
As I said before, I was attracted to painting and sculpture; I didn’t pursue any of those arts, but somehow they have stayed with me. Nowadays I try to patch them back together. Thanks to painting I learned a lot about composition, because painting, just like photography, is a still image that only offers the audience one point of view; that of his author. On the other hand, sculpture, being three-dimensional, gives the audience the freedom to choose their own point of view on the subject. The space between the subject and the spectator is a literal physical space where one can explore and the presence of the body plays a defining role in the interpretation. I guess these attractions explain why today I combine different elements and different angles into my work. Also, I’m always consuming visually, constantly scanning everything around me. The collages allow me to bring together and express all that I seize.
Water, masks, gender blending… there is something about an elusive and evanescent identity that’s always changing. When you put on a mask, are you a superhero?
Not at all! On the contrary, using masks or playing with gender allows me to reveal what I truly feel, instead of merely expressing what I see. It is by no means a way to hide something. I have been working on a series of masks in which I play each single character role myself, but the idea wasn’t to hide myself. I found it really interesting working on this project with a single body, mine, staging it differently to give the illusion of interpreting men from various ethnic backgrounds, a woman and even a dog. I think we’re far from superheroes with great powers; I’m not fighting, I’m just sharing what animates me, what drives me in the hope of hearing how it echoes back to me.
Tell me more about your obsession with flesh…
It’s my core material. Not only it’s the body the object, or the subject, but it’s the easiest to use. The body is also such a complex piece of machinery and an unlimited source of inspiration. Beyond the outward appearance, it carries emotions, accidents, time…It’s a universal language. Someone that takes pictures must be a bit of a voyeur since you spend your time watching everything around you. When I am not literally doing it using my camera, I am undressing people with my eyes. I’m very sensitive and receptive to other people’s bodies. I can picture their features almost immediately, even with clothes on. It fascinates me…I have also always loved dance; I used to dream about becoming a dancer, who, through hard work, keeps questioning and pushing the limits of the body.
The body seems to be the raw material from which you weave your own collection of the living, of mankind. What is the ideal man for you?
I have no idea.
And what would the ideal woman be like?
I meant Man as in human being, without any gender consideration!
What is your relationship to fashion?
It’s where I come from. I owe a lot to the fashion world – it brought me up. Fashion gave me visibility and it allowed me to question myself. By definition, fashion means “team work”. For a lone wolf like myself, it’s a relief to be able to rely upon the talent of others and their ideas.
We know that you like to be by yourself and surrounded by sharp objects. Are you a psychopath or more like Frankenstein?
Psychopath, I hope not! Frankenstein…I was never very gifted with biology and dissections. When I look inside, it’s all about feelings rather than organs.
What were you like as a child?
I am an only child. I was mostly surrounded by adults rather than by children. I lived in an adult’s world and I wasn’t comfortable at all with other children. My parents, especially my dad who raced cars and motorbikes, had plenty of hobbies and they would always take me with them wherever they would go. I had my first motorbike when I was seven. My dad would hook me on the back of his roller-skates. I would drive 4×4’s. In short, when I was a kid I was James Bond! I could spend hours quietly drawing or dismantling all the household electrical appliances and then putting all the pieces back together to create fake bombs. I was never running out of ideas and still today, I can’t stop. I’m always doing something.
If you had to choose two bodies to meet up in front of your camera, who would they be?
There’s no one in particular, I want to see everybody naked! My desire may come along as I get to know someone; it’s the body language of some people that triggers the impetus to be creative. If I don’t know them, I have no fantasy about them.
How do you come up with the final picture? Does it exist previously in your mind or is it the result of a long search?
Broadly speaking, a collage doesn’t exist in my mind. Most of my attempts to give shape to what was previously a clear idea have failed. I can start from an idea but since I’m working with someone else, be it a team or a single person, it is hard to foresee what I will receive from others. In any case, this is how it works for me and I’d rather stay open to surprises and take what others may give to me. Once I have collected this ‘‘raw material’’, I start working on it by myself. Over the years, you develop your own alphabet and it becomes like a guiding thread. What one could name “a style”.
Do you have a mentor?
If I had one, I’d stay quiet.
Recently, you have started using Instagram (@damien_blottiere). To be successful today does one need to romanticise his life and make it public?
It might be the case for some, but that was not my intention; it was rather a request from others. People want to put a face on someone’s work. Moreover, they want to see beyond a face, they want to see it all. I’m against it myself. In fact, I see no point in Instagram, except maybe to share things with friends far away or for special occasions. Most of the time I fear this platform is more about exposing, self-promotion and trying to separate oneself from the crowd even when you have nothing to give, say or to share. In the same line as Facebook, I believe Instagram is detrimental to us and it brings us down.
NB: Shortly after this interview, Damien deleted his Instagram account.
We ask this question to everyone interviewed at La Monda. We give you the beginning of the sentence and you have to complete it. So, here it goes…
That’s funny because I’ve been asking this question myself lately. Previously, I would work only thinking that if anything of me should remain, it might be those collage. As if my creation could somehow be my chance of passing to posterity. Then I realised my mistake. Instead of worrying about what may remain after us, it is better to focus on the present, to have projects for your current life so you don’t miss it. There are professional projects, of course, but also those that allow you to escape from work, and come back to it more inspired. Can you repeat the question?
‘Artistic expression as a way of…’
- Guillaume Thomas