Wednesday, May 30, 2018
"Benning’s recent ventures into found footage filmmaking (with Youtube Trilogy and Faces in 2011 and The War in 2012), and now his 2012 remake of Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969), have been seen as radically new departures in his work, but in fact they foreground a practice that he has engaged in since the 1970s: replication. This takes various forms in his films, including appropriating texts and objects, recycling or referencing bits of his previous films, and making works that revisit earlier works or experiences. Revisiting and recycling can produce complex temporal schemes that combine the historical time of a place or object with the time spent by Benning in observation, exploring the capacity of film, as a time-based medium, to reconstruct or even retrieve the past time registered by landscapes and artifacts (most notably in casting a glance [2007]). His art projects beyond filmmaking have revealed his love of American folk art, in the copies he has made of pictures by Henry Darger, Martín Ramirez, Bill Traylor, Mose Tolliver and others, and in the craft skills he employs, including building and quilting.

Benning’s practice of copying as a way of making and learning is not the pastiche of the postmodernist, but the apprenticeship of the folk artist, for whom originality sits side by side with eccentricity."

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