For artist Damien Blottière, bodies are at the centre of construction when manipulating an image. Starting with various still photos, he develops the impression of movement through cutting, layering and manoeuvring, in order to create a single image of life. Blottière, unlike most nowadays, handcrafts his pieces, which makes one acutely aware of the importance of the physical when viewing his work. From body to body, he reminds us that there is more than a moment behind the image, there is the human form, bodily magnifique and a mind of thoughts running behind soft tissue.
What is it about the human form that fascinates you so much?
The body represents our existence's envelope, both our container and our content, the point zero of the world according to Michel Foucault. It is from this point that we set ourselves in the world, that we move and relate to others. It's a complex structure that contains our living mechanisms, emotions, and which gives a starting point to language, identity, and links with its environment.
Some may find it surprising you don’t digitally manipulate your work. What do you believe to be the significance in handcrafting your pieces?
It’s not that surprising, considering I studied the arts when computers and the internet were not yet widespread and smartphones did not exist. I'm fascinated by digital work, but I've always had a taste for manual work, and computers don’t give me the jumble I need for creation. The resistance and the constraint of material which hollows or thickens, the risk of failing and having to redo, the relationship of my body to the subject in ‘the effort,’ the touch, the workspace, the physical object of the collage. It’s essential to the way I work.
I remain convinced that my work, once finished, could still be subject to digital manipulation, in order to bring it further. It’s a step I still need to develop, I'm actually looking for the right partner to do it with at the moment... would anyone fancy?
What relationship does your art have to the erotic?
In my work, there is a carnal sensitivity, anatomy, nudity and relationship to the body that goes through my hands, which can be referred to as eroticism. Although necessary for the construction of my compositions, erotism is more of a component than a subject, and I lead with a lot of discretion.
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How would you describe the perfect subject?
I don't describe it, I feel it.
You have worked for various fashion publications such as Purple and Dazed&Cofused. Did your time there influence you and what provoked you to make the transition from magazines to focusing on your own art?
I think I gained experience, more than an influence. My time there helped me develop and allowed me to mature my work. I learned a lot about how to produce images in the fashion industry by bringing various talents together for projects and took it as a moment to develop and enhance my visual writing. For me, it was a logical continuation. From the moment I felt that I had enough elements in hand, I was able to define the direction of my own work.
You state pornographic iconography as a source of inspiration to you. Are there any pieces of archival material that you rely on when creating?
It was more like an attempt to identify my own personality in the late eighties. Mostly I was greedy for any iconography of the body, masculinity, and sexuality that would allow me to define myself. It was a different time and my sources are not the same anymore.
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Talk us through your artistic process.
First, there is the shooting, where work is done with the interpreters of my images. I then develop a construction system, a method, where I have the freedom to rebuild a character by making the human form a ‘sensitive-form,’ in the sense that it doesn’t reflect reality but illustrates a perception that enlists imagination and sensitivity.
Take a composition made from a movement, for example, I will isolate six or eight images out of its set, an A-B sentence that groups six to eight actions; I then determine an axis that will split two actions creating a mutual space, and from the intersections of these actions I start the work of cutting in order to link spaces which lead from A to B. It's at the heart of these spaces that I manipulate my imagination and my feelings.
How do you know when to stop?
It is only as the composition progresses that I create the narration, my tale, associating one image to the next. It is when the adjustments bind as a whole and make it possible to define a feeling, a perception, an emotion, that the puzzle seems to be finished to me.
What are you most looking forward to working on this year?
I have a book project that has been running for a while. The pandemic has disturbed my initial plan and I look forward to being able to return to it with new aspirations. No matter if it takes me a year or my whole life.
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