Opening reception for selected work by James Benning | Curated by Terri Phillips and Brian Pera
Reception, filmmaker Q&A, and screening of measuring change (60 min), 2016
The Wish Book series is a triannual exhibition with a focus on artists’ films. Curators Brian Pera and Terri Phillips welcome internationally recognized artists, filmmakers, and critics to Memphis for this exciting new series, which takes its name from the famed Sears Catalog and is hosted by Crosstown Arts at Crosstown Concourse, itself once a major Sears distribution center. Drawing from a wide range of topics, techniques, and perspectives, the films index the scope of work being done by artists in moving pictures.
About the Artist:
James Benning has sometimes been referred to as a “filmmaker’s filmmaker”, though he might prefer the more succinct “artist.” Alternately telescopic and microscopic, his work often explores the American landscape and its social and environmental histories, observing the movements and moments which characterize it in endlessly mutable patterns.
Equally painterly, sculptural, and literate, his films combine elements of sound and image in ways which invite interpretation through a uniquely cinematic immersion. Landscape is a function of time, according to Benning, and duration plays an important role in a viewer’s experience of his films, endowing most of the work with distinctly cumulative effects.
The film’s narratives are generated by the highly subjective experience of prolonged observation. The rigorous formality of his approach generates meditations on place and memory, prompting viewers to look more closely and differently at the spaces we inhabit.
In an environment increasingly mapped out by remote third party GPS systems, Benning’s work reminds us what it is to see for ourselves. Benning began making films in the 1970s. Wish Book presents a selection of his most recent work, much of which revisits and expands upon themes and motifs consistent throughout his oeuvre.