The Plain Dealer | John Petkovic  |  November 18, 2009

Artist Blaise Carrier-Chouinard creates works for his exhibit as it goes along at Spaces in Cleveland

Most openings mark the culmination of the process. Artists reveal finished pieces after long months of work. More patrons see the work at the opening than during the remainder of the show's run.

Blaise Carrier-Chouinard is just starting his show, which opens (along with work by two other artists) Friday, Nov. 20, at Cleveland's Spaces gallery and runs through Friday, Jan. 15.

Carrier-Chouinard, you see, is using Spaces as an incubator as much as a gallery. The Quebec City native is building works during the duration of his two-month residency at the artist-run nonprofit.

"I basically have two months to create works that I'm going to be adding to the show," said the multimedia artist. "I've been working every day since I arrived two weeks ago."

His first work is what he calls an "epic mini golf" course.

"It's going to be impossible to play," he said. "It's a dysfunctional mini golf [course] filled with cheap creatures."

Carrier-Chouinard wasn't inspired by the game; he admits to being a horrible golfer. Rather, it's an attempt to mix the familiar with the fantastic.
"I like to transform things you come across in daily life into something weird," he says. "I want to find some new meaning in the ordinary things we overlook."

Carrier-Chouinard pursues the same strategy with "Star." He was inspired to create the inkjet print after getting a free coupon to have his photo taken in a Canadian discount department store.

"It was a cheap photo studio, and I took that photo with three women and then manipulated it," he says.

The manipulation involved Photoshopping his face, eyes closed, over the faces of the women. He didn't mess with his image, though.
"See, we're like a gang, but I have my eyes open," says Carrier-Chouinard.

"Every group has a chosen one, even when they come from the same background and look the same. I've always been interested in exploring how some are fated to be the leader, in a religious sense, but also in day-to-day life."
It's a theme that Carrier-Chouinard, 29, plans to explore at Spaces.

"All cultures have their myths," he says. "For instance, Quebec has a totally different set of myths than in other parts of Canada. There are the logger myths, the Inuit myths -- and they all come into collision with the modern world.

"The Inuit, for instance, start with a generation that hunts to survive, then comes the generation that knows how to hunt, chooses not to, because they'd rather become part of the larger mainstream," he adds.

"Then comes the generation that doesn't know how to hunt because it's already part of mainstream society -- yet it's aware of the myths."

And the myths he's discovering in Cleveland?
"For me, going to Dave's Market on Payne Avenue is so exotic, because I'm experiencing an urban environment, where people have their own codes of dress and modes of interacting," he says.

"That's what makes Cleveland so different than Quebec -- the urban environment, the bridges, warehouses, people -- and that's why it's so inspiring that I'm getting to create while I'm here, for this show."

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