Fakewhale in Dialogue with Camille Rouzaud

1. Can you tell us a bit about your artistic journey? How did you start, and what led you to become an artist? 
Being an artist was never a real idea. Even if my dad was a ceramist, he was a starving one and an addicted person whose kind heart died when I was turning 13. This relationship was way too challenging for me to consciously influence anything on this matter. Unconsciously tho, that part and my mom trying to introduce my sister and I to some museums, for sure had an impact on me. I have just recently started to realize it. I also come from a place where dreaming aint a thing, neither is redefining reality. School was terribly boring to me, no one really believed I could ever do anything with my life. Everyone was just busy surviving their own lives. I remember in middle school we had this school director repeatedly telling us we would all end up in jail anyways. Lol, self esteem boost.  But I did take an interest in photography and collage around 15. It was a way to capture a world that I had no access to and find beauty in the details of mine. I didn’t really do anything with it. Didn’t study, went straight to day jobs after high school to make cash, moved to Barcelona, worked in different industries, learned so much, and then at age 27 I started spending more time in Puerto Rico. Somehow, the energy there softly opened her arms to me to be able to embrace photography again. The main focus was on documentary and then evolved to gender, movement …. Little by little, completely out of instinct, a part of me started to suggest that I had the right to be. 
2. How has your background and French origins influenced your artistic work?
A lot of my work is based on experiences while growing up in the South, it’s part of who I am and this consequently influences my practice. I would say that more than a general french culture, it’s the Mediterranean culture that influences it. With its own multiculturalism, its own smells, lights and colors, its own ambiance. Take me 40 minutes away from the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and that’s not home any more. There are many shores on this one and so many diversities of all kinds to see. I don’t even know most of it. About my background, it’s tightened to my soul’s wonders and purpose. Everything I experienced, the positive and the negative, carries me and makes me who I am, with my strength and floods. So it is inevitably present in the full spectrum of my work.  I do work on my past traumas / ptsd a bunch to be able to separate my ego from who I really am and that, I believe, pushes my work into a deeper meaning.  Makes my work and I inseparable.  
3. How do you choose the materials for your sculptures, and what do they mean to you? 
They usually come from familiar materials that surrounded me while growing up. Concrete, metal car/moto parts, bikes, dust, dry, burned, sports gears, gasoline. All those things I could see around me in front of buildings, back and front yards, mechanics, real junkyards and lil’ junkyards everywhere, in the middle of nature, on the side of the road, in the middle of the streets, down to the river, by the railroad train behind the projects, down to the canyon, at the bottom of a pool. Solid materials, solid like an armor against sadness, solid enough to cover the wounds, solid so we can count on them, solid so they don’t disappear too fast.   
Camille Rouzaud, Playing tools II, Car fenders, basketball rim, 2024
Camille Rouzaud, Playing tools II, Car fenders, basketball rim, 2024
4. I’ve noticed that your works combine urban elements with natural influences. How do you manage to integrate elements of your life in New York and your experiences in Puerto Rico into your work?

The urban and natural elements are both very present in my life. I grew up til age 9 in a village 30 minutes from the sea and then we moved to public housing in Narbonne. They are both what I know. Even nature is tainted with manmade materials in my memories, I was a kid before Europe developed environmental civism.

One of the fun games in the countryside was playing and finding pieces of stuff at the junkyard which was located in the middle of nature. We would just bike over there and play till they would burn the whole spot every now and then.  With PR and NY it’s just because it’s been my living spot for the last 10 years – specifically NY – and gravitated around those places for more than 15 years …so they became familiar to me. I try to connect all the things from those different places that resonate with me. My work originates in the Mediterranean but Puerto Rico, New York and Los Angeles also helped me put a light on it. All those languages and places are indivisible now to me.  
5. Play and movement seem to be recurring themes in your works, almost like a thread connecting your past and present experiences. What role do you think play and movement have in your works?
 Liberation.  Play and movement, those two words have been deeply connected to each other. My practice, tied up to my personal mental health work, has served me as a tool to help free my soul from the fears that always seem impossible to face. And because, in the face of terror, emotions get stuck in our bodies, dissociation occurs, mental patterns are created. So, playfulness  (playing street games, jumping into rivers, jumping into rivers with bikes, riding high speed on a dirt bike, laughing, riding on random horses, being outside with friends looking for anything to entertain us….)  and movement, both are about me feeling my body, being in my body. Really Be.  That’s probably why sculpture is so important to me and is the main aspect of my practice now: a vibration of a body, to be.  
Camille Rouzaud, Handlebar III, bmx handlebar, metal, dirt bike helmet, 2024
Camille Rouzaud, Handlebar III, bmx handlebar, metal, dirt bike helmet, 2024
6. Could you describe your “Playing tools” series? What is the main concept behind these works?
The bumped car parts intend to connect metaphorically to protection, the protection of the heart, soul and body against sadness, and the beauty in details where we don’t pay attention. The elements of games ( basketball rim ), through feelings of joy and movement, talk about fluidity of energy and body and liberation from traumas. All those intentions combined suggest embracing all our emotions, the great ones and the tough ones.  
7. Are there any artists or art movements that have had a significant influence on your work?
 I don’t have a wide art history culture and to be honest I never really cared about it. I didn’t go to art school and in high school I couldn’t access art history classes cause my grades were bad and I was not going to school much. Where I’m from almost no one is famous for anything. But I do have some artists’ works that gave me power later in my life. Diamond Stringily’s Entryway resonates really strongly with me for example. But for the most part I try to keep my influence clean to my own experiences so I’ll be the most honest I can be.  
Camille Rouzaud, Playing tools I Car fender, basketball rim and net, 2024
Camille Rouzaud, Playing tools I Car fender, basketball rim and net, 2024
8. Interaction between the viewer and the artwork is often a central aspect of contemporary art. How would you like the audience to interact with your works? What do you hope they take away from the experience?
 Our universal vibration and an intrepid heart.   
9. What motivated you to move to New York, and how has this change influenced your artistic practice?

My soul has always been attracted to this city, even when it was just a concept in my 12 years old kid head. It sounded crazy to be able to jump this huge bridge and land here from where I’m from. But, somehow deep down, I didn’t understand why I could not make everything happen, why there were any rules to follow, so I just kept walking intuitively. Meanwhile my stomach got full of emotions for other cities, Paris, Marseille, Barcelona, San Juan, ( I’m not sure where LA fits tho)… but i knew they were temporary, even if they are recurring. On one hand, as a non binary queer person, New York can be a life saving place for us.  But the reality is that energy pulled me to experience what I need to experience in this incarnated life. Lots of love but also liberation for sure.

NY gave me permissions no one gave me before – and so I didn’t know I could give myself – through the loves of my life and the general acceptance that exists here. New York ( aka the people I met, my chosen family, without whom I could not have done any of it ) gave me birth again.

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