Reforming The Past
In his 4th installation in the past 15 years, Benning integrates issues of film, sculpture, cognition, landscape and public space. The installation Tulare Road is a 3-channel-HDprojection of the same road at 3 different times of the year. Tulare Road is located in California’s Central Valley and in this installation becomes the structuralist representation of the United States of America, and the American Landscape in particular. Benning works with a fixed camera. He combines the structural analysis of image, sound and story with autobiographical impulses and with an almost classic interest in composition, color, light and landscape. In rigorously framed settings, he develops a narrative form in which each image can claim autonomy and associative richness. He lets what’s on screen tell the story, while longing for a pure, not distracted looking.
USA 2010, 3-channel-video installation, HD, color, sound, 18 minutes
Reforming the Past
For his performance Reforming the Past, James Benning turns towards his own film North on Evers, shot in 1991. After seeing Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests again, Benning re-filmed all of the 59 portraits that occur in North on Evers with his HD camera, reframed them and slowed them down 8 times. This silent film, his most recent work, will be accompanied by a live reading by Benning of the handwritten text that ran through the bottom of the frame in the original film, comprised of his travel diary from a road trip through the USA. It is an exploration of the relationship between image, text and sound paying special attention to the landscape of American life. Claudia Slana decribes this his filmic endeavors as follows: “To understand the filmic image not as a direct representation of reality but instead as an ‘illusion of reality’, as a ‘pattern of meaning’ that is subject to continious transformation through the involvement of the viewer.”
USA 2010, Performance/Film, HD, color, 58 minutes, followed by live reading
James Benning, born 1942 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lives and works in Val Verde, California (USA). Since the early 1970s, Benning has produced films that defy the narrative and have significantly influenced avant-garde cinema.
Benning is a professor at the California Institute of the Arts.
Films (selection): 1974: 81/2 x 11. 1976: 11 x 14 (Forum 1977); 1977: One Way Boogie Woogie; 1979; Grand Opera (Forum 1980); 1981: Him and Me; 1983: American Dreams; 1985: O Panama (Forum 1987); 1986: Landscape Suicide (Forum 1987); 1988: Used Innocence; 1991: North on Evers; 1995: Deseret; 1997: Four Corners (Forum 1998); 2000: El Valley Centro (Forum 2002); 2001: Los (Forum 2002). 2002; Sogobi (Forum 2002); 2004: 13 Lakes (Forum 2005); 2004: Ten Skies; 2007: RR (Forum 2008); Casting a Glance; 2009: Ruhr.