Justine Blau is a multidisciplinary artist, making sculptures, installations and photographs about the nature of the photographic medium and modern attitudes towards the environment. She was born in Pétrange, Luxembourg in 1977 and has become one of the foremost contemporary artists working with environmental themes.
The 2010 series The Circumference of the Cumanán Cactus, commissioned by Manchester Piccadilly Station, consists of nine light boxes showing Arcadian landscapes. The images took the place of advertising billboards in the train station, hinting at the fruitless search for an idyllic, exotic space, provoked by the tourism industry. The images consist of collaged pictures gleaned from the internet that suggest the endless miniaturization of the world through digital interaction. They hence expose the ways in which culture imposes a grasp on how nature is viewed. The construction of seemingly natural landscapes from paradoxically man-made materials deconstructs the ‘truth’ value of photography, exposing the tenuous positioning of the medium between nature and artifice. The collages of found objects create optical illusions that reinvent the kitsch materials from which they are constructed. Blau deconstructs the trust implicated within the photographic medium, opening it up for questioning in relation to the travel and tourism industries it supports.
Blau’s 2013 series, What Colour is the Red Planet, Really?, commissioned by the Centre national d’audiovisuel, Dudelange, consists of light boxes filled with images taken from the NASA website to construct a Martian landscape. Her sculptural work examines similar ideas to that of her collages. Her series, Mountain (2012), consisted of digital prints fashioned into mountainous forms and encased within a glass dome. A single image taken from the internet is assembled through a process of copying and pasting’ until a recognisable form emerges. The works speak of both the enshrinement and entrapment of nature through humanity’s obsession with knowing the landscape in its totality. The sublime landscape is dwarfed and encased to echo the domestication of the environment in the digital age.
Blau’s work is held by collections including the Centre national d’audiovisuel, Dudelange, Musée d’art Moderne, Paris, and the Musée de la Villa Vauban, Luxembourg. She has recently exhibited at Euroartphoto, Palazzo Steline, Milan (2014), Zeitgenössische Menagerie visueller Philosoph-innen, Art Biennale, Halberstadt (2014), Arendt & Medernach, Luxembourg (2014), the National Gallery of Iceland, Reykjavik (2013), the Centre national de l’audiovisuel, Luxembourg (2013), Los primeros emprendores, Galerie Toutouchic, Metz (2013); Los primeros emprendores, Centre d’Art Dominique Lang, Dudelange (2013).
She currently lives in Luxembourg and Berlin.