The Shima Elders

Materials: pigment ink on paper, 500 x 700 mm / series of 8

Nakanojo Biennale of Contemporary Art 2017

Presented in the installation The Curves of the Hours

During her Nakanojo Biennale 2017 residency, Dominique’s studio space was located in the spa village of Shima Onsen in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture in Japan. This is a small and picturesque town built along a rushing river. These portraits represent some of the inhabitants of Shima, as a way to understand the people and the place.

Unable to fluently communicate with the locals, Dominique devised a form of portraiture to allow for a private communing in the solitude of her studio, with the accompaniment of the white noise of the torrent outside. She was introduced to eight of the ‘elders’ of Shima: people who are all still involved, in running the village, from the woman who roasts manju on the roadside, to the soba-noodle maker at the local restaurant, and hotel and shop owners. Basing the drawings on a fleeting photograph of each face, Dominique used computer technology as a form of intimacy, zooming deep into those faces to learn their patterns of ‘weathering’. Some reveal circles or waveforms, others are triangular, others yet are pointillist. Each face opened up as a landscape of particular rhythms and forms, a topography revealed only through the voyeuristic eye of the software.

These portraits were then combined into a nine metre long scroll that combines all the shapes of these facial features into a fluid landscape of lines.