“Argile” ( Clay) is a captivating video that explores the themes of memory, identity, and self-construction through powerful and evocative visual language. In this work by artist Eugénie Bérubé, we see the artist herself being probed in her clay-covered back by hands, creating an impression of a carcass being emptied. This visual representation is both unsettling and mesmerizing, evoking notions of vulnerability, transformation, and creation.
The video is also overlaid with images of Eugénie Bérubé as a child, interacting with her family, friends, and surroundings. We hear moments from her past life, family memories, children’s laughter, and beloved voices, creating a striking contrast with the scene of clay. This juxtaposition of images and sounds creates an artistic tension that prompts the viewer to reflect on the ever-changing nature of identity and how past experiences influence the person we become.
The use of clay as a central material in the artwork is significant. For the artist, who is also a Christian, clay is a profound symbol of divine creation, referencing the biblical belief that humans are shaped from the earth. Clay also represents the fragility and malleability of human existence, as well as the process of self-formation and transformation. At the end of the video, we see the artist emerging from the clay as if the construction is complete, symbolizing the person she has become, shaped by her memories and past experiences.
“Argile” also questions the notion of monstrosity, with its troubling and enigmatic visual aspect. The transformation of the artist’s body into a hollowed-out clay carcass can be interpreted as an exploration of otherness, difference, and self-perception and perception of others. The artist challenges traditional aesthetic conventions by presenting a monstrous vision of oneself, questioning social norms and expectations related to physical appearance.
“Argile” is a complex and profound video artwork that invites viewers to reflect on their own identity, their relationship with their past, and their perception of self and others. Through her inventive use of clay as a material and her exploration of childhood memories and life moments, Eugénie Bérubé offers a captivating and emotional artistic experience that raises pertinent questions about the human condition and the construction of identity.