Canada : Nicolas Baier


For his recent exhibition Liquidation Niko et ses amis in Montréal at Galerie Skol, Nicolas Baier published this statement:

"Every day, the idea of time is falsified, distorted. I see myself in the inventory of the things and the walls around me. I am anchored in the places I inhabit as in a mirror. So learning to look is also changing/retracing.

I am interested in the relationships that bind our environment to our representation of self, and the hierarchy of objects to our technological configuration. Liquidation Niko et ses amis is about the private versus the public, about ideas of inside (body/soul, one's home, belongings/belonging) and outside (conjunctive spaces, the Other and others). The task was to depict an out-of-focus zone: the minimal/vital space that separates us from the rest of the world like an invisible gradation. I wanted to photograph air, things that cannot be photographed. I devised a quite random grid of a few materials that construct daily life.

This work is flexible. Every element - in terms of either its subject or its medium - is optional, and can easily be replaced in favour of the series; hence the absence of titles in this exhibition. I use the transparent, the accidental, the conjectural to show that the constant in this work is the system, the revelation, the methodology - using, as nomenclature, this grid." (From a Galerie Skol's document)


For Liquidation Niko, Baier took over the whole gallery space, offering the contents of his entire apartment and studio (albeit in photographic form) "for sale." With the newer work in Tout le temps / Every Time, the artist's underlying sentiments and way of working are much the same: glossy photographic works centred on images of a personal environment. At the same time, the visual aspect of the current installation is very different, as Baier mounts large-scale composite photographs of a single household site. As he writes:
"I often proceed from a clear idea: visual merchandise that I draw from the design of my domestic universe. The arrangement of things, ornaments, equipment, furniture that are in that universe, the colour of the walls, the floors, the quality of light - that's me.

Seeing that I have shifted some things around in my room, a friend of mine says, 'That is so you!' Now, the nature of the microcosm that I inhabit is to be in constant upheaval, under renovation, being replaced, being interrupted by moving, by shortcuts that put everything in teetering piles, and by strokes of a broom that sweep the signs of my laziness under the bed. Nothing is ever locked down, and if my way of seeing things in my habitat isn't itself unfocussed as a result, then it simultaneously reconstructs itself." (Idem)


Here we have Baier's Chambre à coucher, a photo-work that is centred on a bed seen simultaneously in many layers of déshabille. Blankets, sheets, a bare mattress, discarded clothes, pictures all come and go, assembled together as a portrait of both home and homelife. Baier's works are not literally autobiographical but they suggest nevertheless a strong sense of place, of personality, of embedded narrative without words. A sequence in stasis. Time stopped, remembrance of things past and to come. The centre of it all.


Peggy Gale



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