Brie Ruais: Some Things I Know About Being in a Body, 2021
Exhibition by Brie Ruais at albertz benda gallery, New York
December 9, 2021 – Jan 22, 2022
In August 2021, Ruais visited a small New Mexican clay quarry owned by a local artist to harvest wild clay for the first time. Before going, she asked her friend, will we need pickaxes and shovels? He responded, “No, we can gather the clay with our hands, I only take what is given.” Ruais peeled drying clay from the basin and climbed to gather crumbling clay from the cliff face. After filling up the truck bed with hundreds of pounds of clay, she set up her drone camera, walked into the thick pond of clay at the base of the mine, and developed a set of performative gestures to connect to the place.
In her exhibition, “Some Things I Know About Being in a Body”, Brie Ruais brings the human body and the earth body together, reminding us of shared vulnerabilities, beauty, and the ability to transform.
The exhibition features a series of wild clay ceramic works that bear traces of the elements which shaped them: they are embedded with raindrops and patterned by the smoke of an outdoor pit firing process. Also on view is “Digging In, Digging Out”, an aerial video of the artist’s performance in the clay quarry, where she engages, embeds, and emerges from the wet clay. The gestures she developed in the mine are used in the works made in her Brooklyn studio, and even further implemented in the gallery’s architecture by gouging holes into the walls through the sculptures.
Ruais’ ceramic sculptures, all made of 130 lbs of clay, the artists’ body weight, are shaped by and embedded with the movements employed by the artist: spreading out, tearing open, scraping away, fracturing, cutting, pushing, and kicking. The work is created by performing a foundational movement Ruais began working with 10 years ago: “Spreading Outward from Center”. The forms that emerge from this movement are circular and call to mind bursts of light, emanations, and geological terrains. For this new body of work, Ruais adds one more movement to this score: “Making space in the Center”. The voids created are reminiscent of the act of mining, marking the earth with passageways, portals, and wounds. A deeply embodied and personal practice, Ruais’ work resonates environmentally and psychichally, as we acknowledge the interconnectedness of all kinds of bodies.
Courtesy albertz benda gallery, NYC; Produced with Studio Scala, Santa Fe