Brie Ruais was interviewed by Anne-Valérie Kirmann on Abstract Room.
Could you please introduce us to your artistic practice?
I am working through movement, forms, and material to navigate an unbalanced, unpredictable world. Through sculptures made on the scale of the body, I make maps of various routes and perform my modes of navigation in clay.
You work with clay – that originates from earth – and you use your body weight of material for each of your piece. Is it a mean to desecrate art, to put it at the same level as humanity?
My work is largely about the experience of being human, I think most art is. I think clay is sacred in a sense because it comes from the earth. I use it as my main material to embody the physical and metaphysical relationship we have to our various environments
In some of your recent 2017 pieces, continuity is lost, the work being spread out in different fragments. The word “broken” is used in the titles of those works. What was your intent?
Broken Ground Red and Broken Ground White were both made by spreading the clay radially outward from the center, as I do with many pieces. I made them after some time spent in the Nevada desert, where rainfall soaks the parched dirt and then dries into cracked desiccated patterns common to arid playas. These are the first pieces where I moved away from using the cut line as separation method. The title is a play on words- it refers to the cracked earth of a parched desert and a shift, or “groundbreaking” within my practice. When clay (or dirt) covers a large surface area, it does not shrink in one direction, it shrinks and separates into fragments. I wanted these works to speak to this natural ability of the clay to literally pull itself apart as it dries.
You are currently preparing a show at Night Gallery in LA. In which direction are you working for this show?
This body of work started from the feeling that things are falling apart, that there’s a darkness and uncertainty that is resonating now. The center is not holding. To borrow from Joan Didion, we don’t know the rules of the game we are playing, and maybe we’ve stopped believing in rules anyway. In thinking about this, I created a series of movements for making the pieces, but the resulting forms seem to speak to more than just the actions that made them. They look like a system of formal signs or symbols that is evolving. The surfaces are evolving too: they’re highly textured; charred, dry, scaly, and bone-like; and I’m using more color with pigmented clay and layered glazes.
What are your interests in the field of contemporary creation?
I’ve been looking at a lot of artists who are drawing on their relationships to the natural world and using organic materials or phenomenological processes to produce their work like Letha Wilson, Sam Falls, Martha Tuttle. I also look at work that directly or indirectly addresses the body of the maker like Andrea Zittel, Ursula Von Rydingsvard, Janine Antoni, and I’m revisiting Michelle Stuart’s work.
– Anne-Valérie Kirmann
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