2011-2020DocumentaryJames BenningPoliticsUSA

James Benning – The War (2012)

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

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.

With footage ranging from, I believe, 2006 to 2012, originally found on the Internet and much of it now no longer available (or at least easily watchable) online, these individual vignettes vary in image quality and legibility in terms of what is happening to who and why and what it could mean. They are presented by Benning in unmediated form except for his curatorial selection and ordering of them, and the accompaniment of an opening photograph with the audio of a news report about the group. Most importantly, they remain unlabeled, dated, or contextualized, and no dialog, signs or lyrics are translated. After the sequence of videos ends—with an image of the newborn girl of what can only be described as the leading couple of the videos, just as an image of the couple and the girl opened the movie—the war begins providing a linear series of title cards and subtitles, identifying each video piece, providing the translations that were missing during the videos, and some minor explanations and exposition, all over a black screen.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button