Holding up a Space for Appearance: Hollow Column (Hold up a plaster-soaked length of fabric until it sets: 20 minutes), 2012 Image courtesy Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery
Holding up a Space for Our Appearance: Conjoined Pillars (Hold up a plaster-soaked length of fabric until it sets: 20 minutes), 2013 Image courtesy Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery
That we are always perceiving in folds means that we have been grasping figures without objects, but through the haze of dust without objects that the figures themselves raise up from the depths, and that falls back again, but with enough time to be seen for an instant. I see the folds of things through the dust they stir up, and whose folds I cast aside. I do not see into God, but I do see into the folds. - Gilles Deleuze, “The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque”
I have been making these plaster and fabric sculptures for a couple years now, and have only made them by myself, using only my body as the performer, laborer, and support system for 50 pounds of plaster-drenched fabric. It wasn’t until I developed a partnership with someone that I considered integrating another body into the work. I wanted to make, from a birds-eye view, an S-curve, where two people are facing each other supporting the same length of fabric, but are divided by it at the same time. My friend and I made this piece twice. In the first piece, the sheet that divided us made it difficult to communicate and to be sure we were facing each other directly. Because the plaster hadn’t been mixed thickly enough the piece was a material failure. In the second piece, the fabric that divided us had gone slack in our struggle to hold up the heavy plaster-fabric, creating a “U”-shaped window through which we could see each other’s faces. Halfway through the crucial set-time, my friend doubted his ability to continue to hold up his end of the fabric. Looking at him through the "U", I managed to convince him that he could, and in the end the piece “worked”.
In the process of making this work, the plaster-soaked sheet occupies the same space as the skin - a barrier between external space and internal - public and private. At the moment the body steps away from what has become a rigid shell, she turns to find that there is now a barricade in her field of vision: a serendipitous form has been made from the labored action of holding up the barrier sheet.
Brie Ruais was born in 1982, in Southern California. She received her BA from NYU in 2004 followed by an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in 2011. She now lives and works in New York City. Recent exhibitions have been with Nicole Klagsbrun, The Horticultural Society of New York, Salon 94, Abrons Art Center and Eli Ping in New York as well as at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels. Ruais will be opening her first solo exhibition with Nicole Klagsbrun this November.