Samuel Rousseau’s medium can most readily be described as video installation, although many of his works behave like sculptures, despite their video components. Such categories are not a concern for Samuel Rousseau, and yet from his most monumental and complex works, to the smallest objects, questions of the interrelationships of scale, space and setting always complement the more fundamental questions for him, of content and subject.
The artist typically uses video components in the most original and innovatory ways, from his video wallpaper and electronic tapestries, to his celebrated Giant – a building sized precursor of the new work visible at Parker’s Box. In this piece, computer-coordinated video projections in all of the windows of a multi-story building reconstituted the image of a naked giant, squirming in the discomfort of confinement. In works that can more easily be installed in exhibition spaces, or indeed those that find a home in collectors’ apartments, a feeling of the monumental persists, often as a result of the artist’s use of scale as a recurrent tool. This further reflects Rousseau’s preoccupation with the insignificance of humankind, a lofty subject that the artist brings crashing down to earth with mischievous and relentless irony.
For his new works at Parker’s Box, the artist filmed a wide cast of actors, through a partnership with the French National Theatre, providing the raw material for his constructed video projections. For example, in Untitled (Plastic Mountain), seen here for the first time, a battery of concealed projectors fills the plastic mountainside with climbing figures. In Plastikcity, Rousseau uses plastic jerry cans to build a cityscape, and projects its windows, buzzing with urban activity. While there is always a degree of humor in the artist’s dissection of humanity, this is often counterbalanced by surprising tenderness, and if Plastikcity can be seen as a kind of miniaturized Everyman theatre, another work, Maternaprima manipulates scale in the opposite direction, as planet Earth becomes a wall-sized pregnancy.
In Europe and South America, Samuel Rousseau’s deep individualism and originality has imposed itself in a manner that should at least dig New York in the ribs- which is certainly how the artist prefers his work to function!