James Benning

James Benning – BNSF (2013)

James Benning’s latest is a three hour+ shot featuring light, clouds and the much anticipated return of a BNSF train. Only info about this on the net is that a recent intended screening was cancelled. Read More »

James Benning – Two Cabins (2011)

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Between July, 2007 and June, 2008, veteran independent film-maker,James Benning built replicas of two iconic American Cabins in a remote part of the High Sierras- Henry David Thoreau’s hut from Walden Pond and the one-room plywood shack in rural Montana from which Theodore John Kaczynski (the ‘Unabomber’) conducted his 16-year bombing campaign via the U.S. mail. The juxtaposition of these two simple structures invokes and implicates deeply conflicted and enduring foundational American myths concerning the scope and meaning of personal liberty, civic responsibility and the rule of law; individual conscience, democracy and civil disobedience; the transcendental value of nature, wilderness and the god-given right to exploit natural resources; American exceptionalism, environmental conservationism and faith in technological progress; the imperative to make oneself (anew), to ’succeed’ and, if necessary, to secede.
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James Benning – Twenty Cigarettes (2011)

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Naked Repose: A Conversation with James Benning about “Twenty Cigarettes”

Written by Darren Hughes

Published on 07 October 2011
James Benning

“The guard is down and the mask is off, even more than in lone bedrooms where there’s a mirror. People’s faces are in naked repose down in the subway.” —Walker Evans

“So, have you ever smoked?” I laughed when James Benning asked me this question at the end of our conversation. “Honestly, I’ve probably smoked about twenty cigarettes,” I told him. “I’m a child of the 70s and 80s. Nancy Reagan told me to say ‘no.'” That was almost the full extent of our discussion of smoking, despite the fact that Benning’s feature-length video, Twenty Cigarettes, is constructed solely of portraits of smokers. The duration of each of the twenty shots is determined by the length of time it takes each subject to light, smoke, and discard a cigarette. Benning composed each shot, staged the person in front of a flat backdrop, and then walked away from the camera. Read More »

James Benning – Postscript (2012)

It’s a 2012 short-film, text by Theodore J. Kaczynski, made of scans of a document from a FBI Laboratory, about the danger of experiments with accelerated particles:
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James Benning – North on Evers (1992)

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from link
In NORTH ON EVERS (1991) James Benning takes the road movie seriously, making his circular trip across the U.S. a marvelously photographed, intensely felt, and disturbing portrait of contemporary America. In many ways, this recent film is a departure of Benning’s earlier films which are characterized, at times, by extremely long, carefully planned takes and a minimal narrative approach. In NORTH ON EVERS, the shots are kept short with a narrative that is direct and detailed, like a diary or a long series of postcards to a friend. What this work shares with the other films is a dry wit and a deep interest in the American social landscape. Read More »

James Benning – The War (2012)

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Quote:
The first two-thirds of the 55 minute video is a selection of activist/art-activist videos produced by Voina: several acts against the police and the Russian state, both violent (turning over cop cars, setting fires) and prankish (staging a protest concert during a courtroom hearing, women activists kissing female police officers, painting a giant penis on a drawbridge facing the old KGB building), as well as more narrative or conceptual videos, including Pussy Riot’s Orthodox church musical intervention / music video and the disturbing integration of children of group members into their protests and art. Read More »

James Benning – 11 x 14 (1977)

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11 x 14

James Hoberman chose 11 x 14 as one of the top ten films of the seventies (Film Comment, January 1980) and later wrote in The Village Voice:

“One of the most praised American avant-garde films of recent years, James Benning’s 1976 feature is a laconic mosaic of single-shot sequences, each offering some sort of sound/image pun or paradox. At once a crypto-narrative with an abstract, peekaboo storyline and fractured, painterly study of the midwestern landscape, 11 x 14 points toward the creation of a new, nonliterary but populist cinema.” Read More »