Cromogenic print dry mounted on Alupanel
60.96 x 50.08 cm
255, rue Brock, Drummondville
Description of the work
Second souffle tackles the physical and psychological suffering of men living with HIV. At first glance, the face behind the fluid veil and flowing colours that slip into each other does not reveal itself. The human traits slowly appear: unrecognizable portraits of individuals and their testimonials revealing fragments of their innermost identities. The artist thus seeks to call attention to these vulnerable individuals who sometimes feel like outcasts.
Anonymous and intimate, the works embody the palpable interplay between what is said and what remains unsaid out of modesty and tenderness.
“In the 80s, I buried dozens of friends. I had just lost my second partner, with whom I had spent the last nine years, when he passed away by my side. I didn’t think anything worse could ever happen to me. But when I was 45, my doctor told me I had AIDS, too. […]
At first, I was depressed. For a while, I was overwhelmed by the fear of death because, back then, I was more concerned about those around me who were infected and their sense of hope.
In the beginning, the therapeutic drugs had a curariform effect. Two of them (ddI and d4T) damaged my liver, and my low white blood cell count weakened my immune system. But that never stopped me from working.
Today, I’m 73, and there’s room enough for both of us, the virus and me.”
About the artist
Born in Outaouais, Benoît Brousseau lives and works in Montréal. He is currently pursuing a master’s in visual and media arts, in which he already holds an undergraduate degree, at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He expresses himself through different mediums and techniques, including photography, video, sound and text, with which he explores and experiments.
His recent art projects were showcased at the Écomusée du fier monde, Foire d’art contemporain de Saint-Lambert, CDEx exhibition and experimentation centre at UQAM and Espace culturel Georges-Émile-Lapalme at Place des Arts in Montréal. He is a two-time finalist for the AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Program (2016–2017), and his work has been featured in specialized catalogues and magazines.
Brousseau is also interested in installation, which he integrates into some of his projects. He is part of the Cuisinage collective, which earned a grant from the Conseil des arts de Montréal to carry out a one-year creative residency at the Centre Communautaire Patro Le Prevost in the Villeray neighborhood. The members of the collective roam neighborhood alleyways and collecting evocative objects, such as pieces of clotheslines and fences, to create installations in the very locations at which they were found.
Revealing the essence of identity
In his artistic process, Benoît Brousseau looks at life trajectories and the factors that impact self-constructs and identities. The artist’s sensitive human approach is driven by the search for what it means to be living. He considers how challenges, moments and memories affect the genesis of the individual. Through a range of themes such as illness, suffering, death, taboos and even memory, Benoît Brousseau considers the passage of time: how it influences body and soul and leaves its marks—or markers of existence as he calls them. The changes in an individual’s self-construct, and especially the unpredictably of this evolution, are also of particular interest to the artist.
Benoît Brousseau’s career as an artist develops along with his social and activist commitment, particularly as embodied in the Second souffle project for which he collaborated with AIDS Community Care Montréal.