Erika Roux

video - artistiek onderzoek - documentair - schrijven - film

Erika Roux is a visual artist based in Rotterdam working mostly with video. With a rather intuitive and intimate approach to the medium, she uses the camera as a tool to create a specific bond with individuals, a group of people or a community. Her work navigates between the critical potential of fiction and re-enactment and the complications present in documentary material. In both cases, the idea that the camera is a tool registering a performing subject is put forward while domestic and private environments become a place of investigations as a politically and socially charged context. In her recent productions, she is interested in looking – with a documentary approach - at situations and spaces in which people redefine the terms and conditions for production, collaboration, or political struggle looking at social spaces and modes of being which - by their own existence and actions - question current hegemonic forms of performing and power structures.

Aujourd’hui, on est là - three channel HD video installation, 20’10”, 2021 - In 2017, I encountered the then nascent La Révolution est en Marche (LREEM), a grassroots organization working toward social justice in Aulnay sous Bois, the Parisian banlieue where I grew up. What began as a request to observe and film the collective during its private gatherings and public actions grew into an intimate bond. Over the past year, I accompanied them to rallies, protests, meetings, and assemblies as they sought to expand from what had begun as a Facebook page into a widespread social movement. LREEM’s members frequently use cellphone cameras to broadcast political objectives, record tense and impassioned street actions, and document the living conditions they seek to change. My own filmmaking captures many of these self-presentations as well generally off-camera, quieter moments of reflection among members in each other’s homes. In this video work, I film LREEM’s attempts to create a new political imaginary by joining underprivileged and under-represented communities across the outskirts of Paris.
Difficult - HD video, 46min 45sec, 2020 - Difficult is an all female music band. Their musical collaboration combines absurd lyrics with punk sensibility and improvisation, a difficult process of unlearning and transcending genres. In this film we are immersed into their musical experimentation within the safe space of the rehearsal studio. The band is composed of untrained musicians; they embrace on stage and in their composition their amateurism by making the cracks, hesitations and mistakes visible to the audience; an approach that destabilizes a traditional understanding of music making and virtuosity. This video looks at how nuanced and unassertive modes of being can carry a powerful and subversive potential; in Difficult’s case it as an empowering feminist gesture. The footages are mainly composed of the bands developing process of composing songs. The songs are composed through improvisation and jamming, the lyrics are glimpses of their personal communal experiences. Focusing on their musical process unfolding in front of the camera, the viewer is invited to look at a vulnerable but generative situation. Non-verbal communication, musical elements, empathy and affect are intertwined, revealing many complexities that the resulting music track won’t ever expose.
Vanitas, in collaboration with Anni Puolakka - Vanitas portrays four, unemployed characters in the future: a singer, a what-naut, a gamer and an office building. Revolving around the characters’ observations, it wonders about the transient and often meaningless seeming nature of human activity. The video was shot in an empty office building situated in the center of Rotterdam. It borrows from the genre of science fiction its aesthetic and narrative methods as tools to discuss on the relation of human lives to new technology and disappearance or redefinition of work, as well as timeless matters such as loneliness, alienation and mortality. The dialogue is inspired by the real life of the video makers and actors, transferred into a fictive and speculative reality. Built on a loose script containing speech, singing and movement, the actors are asked to improvise based on given characters.
The World Has Shrank - The World Has Shrank is a play set in the apartment where I lived. Non-professional actors become characters trapped in a shrinking apartment. The enacted text borrows linguistic and narrative tropes of tragic drama, clichés and platitudes used in an absurd manner. The scene evokes with minimal means an apocalyptic and unsolvable situation in which the characters seem to be stuck together. Set in a social house in Rotterdam, a city undergoing huge level of gentrification, in a time of climate collapse and neoliberal individualism, the video echoes a multifaceted feeling of anxiety. However, this feeling can be nuanced by the collaborative aspect of the work made visible by the intimacy of the setting and the playful participation of my artists friends.
A Couple Things - On a double screen installation, two larger than life teenagers embody by means of improvisation a couple in crises in the décor of a middle class British living room. The camera functions here as a tool that summons the two actors to perform a reality that they haven’t experienced yet. The improvised dialogue highlights their constructed visions of what romantic relationship between adults might be. photo by Sol Archer, exhibition at Showroom Mama
Playing the Father, the Son (2014) - My father and I are embodying a father and its son from the theater piece Marius, by Marcel Pagnol. This role-play creates parallels between the fictional story and our life. We are both trapped in the attempt to act the lines, which results in an ambiguous play between performing and rehearsing. However, we see here how performing this story can allow certain feelings to be vocalized.