Keren Benbenisty

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What is my work about?

My work is similar to an archeologist`s digging process: an excavation of a hidden reality. It is created within time and it is about time. I reconstruct imaginary and surreal images by uncovering, unearthing everyday profane objects, monumental relics or mundane rituals. Elevating them to the surface, permitting me to grasp the current condition of human being and its psyche: consciousness/unconsciousness and desires. As relics, it deals with loss and memory: cultural, historical and personal.

 

Artist Statement

Driven by the idea that possibly nothing is contemporary, nearly my entire body of artwork suggests the terms ‘revolution’ and ‘fragment’. ‘Revolution’ traditionally refers to rupture (from the past) and renewal (for the future), but the etymology of it (revolver from Latin ‘roll back’) suggests a cyclical, circular movement, which is how it was used and understood in early modernity. This dual sense also characterizes the fragment: On the one hand, fragment connotes nostalgia, loss, and deprivation. On the other, it signifies the possibility of change.

It is this duality that I enacted and animated in the project _a_a_o_ue through the effacing gesture that I employ. The artwork _a_a_o_ue {title formed by erasing the consonants in the word Catalogue} was emerged out of deconstruction of a catalogue encompasses a collection of antique Oriental porcelains from 17th century Japan. By erasing the offset photographs, removing ink from the white surface of the sheet, the drawings were created. The gesture of effacement revisits the chosen ‘cultural object’ in its printed version, making it appear and disappear simultaneously, eventually turning it into a new image. It is an operation that marks and highlights as much as it erases. I handle the paper as skin: both absorb (sun)light (time), marked by traces (memories), and carries a story and History.

In Saxa loquuntur Stone speak, I transformed El Museo De Los Sures in Brooklyn into a temporally ambiguous location, a scene of excavation where objects from the present are revealed. The color blue, as space, is based on an ongoing project: 1140 pages of an English-English Oxford dictionary are erased with blue ink. The site-specific installation inspired by Freud`s theory that was invented through metaphors grounded in archeology: Freud loved the thought of psychoanalysis as a kind of archeology and even thought of himself as an archeologist of the psyche. By conceptualizing the gallery space as an archeology site, the exhibition questions contemporary interpretations of language and codes; the spoken vs the written, the word vs. the image. In my work, speech is not audibly spoken but inscribed across layers of history.

Kamil draws its title from a graffiti tag on the Fontaine du Palmier in Paris that I filmed before moving to New York. The Napoleonic-era fountain featuring a head of a Sphinx facing the four cardinal directions is, for me, a fountain of water and language. The sphinx, speaking in gurgling water, poses riddles in a silent language that does not have written form. Likewise ambiguous in meaning, (translated to “the perfect one” in Arabic in addition to having roots in early Etruscan, Turkish and Greek) the graffiti is in part an individual’s solution to the sphinx’s ongoing riddle, an ambiguous response to the fountain’s silent speech.

The sphinx`s language is liquid and it engages this riddle, using video, drawing and the interplay of text and image. I select a single second of footage and broke it down into 24 frames, each one of which is meticulously traced; the water constantly changing form across each frame. From these tracings, layered over each other into a single drawing in blue ink, translate, in a sense, the water into ink. Installed with the video, the water flows behind the ink, re-tracing the drawing. The video, a loop of a 1-second capture of the fountain, allows an unheard dialogue between them. Played on an infinite loop, the structure of the video echoes the cyclical journey of the water around the fountain over two hundred years; ongoing but seemingly always changing. The fountain continues to “speak” but the water never falls the same twice, her words are always different.

 

EDUCATION
Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, ME, USA 2009
École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Paris, FR 1999 – 2004
Cal’Arts, Los Angeles, CA, USA January – May 2003

 

ONE AND TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS

2015
Saxa loquuntur Stones speak, El Museo de Los Sures, Brooklyn, NY

2014
Kamil, Pseudo Empire, Brooklyn, NY

2011
Fabulous Opera, Keren Benbenisty and Jaye Rhee, Gym Gallery, Seoul, KR
Parking, Solo show, La BANK Gallery, Paris FR

2009
You are here to stay, Keren Benbenisty and Hani Rashed, La BANK Gallery, Paris, FR

2008
QuickTime, Solo Exhibition, TÄT Gallery, Berlin, DE

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2015
Of Average Means, Human Resources Los Angeles, CA (Curators Thomas T. Cordoba & Eric Kim)
Sextant, NurtureArt, Brooklyn, NY (Curator Marco Antonini)
Gatherer/ Nonfunctional Display, Artist house, Jerusalem, IL (Curator Tali Ben-Nun)
Two Different Ways To Do Two Different Things, Kristen Lorello Gallery, NY (Curator S. Callegari)

2014
Under Erasure – Tel-Aviv Museum, IL (Curator Irit Hadar)

2013
The Left Over Method, La Couleuvre – Saint-Ouen, FR
Drawing Biennale – Jerusalem, IL (Curator Tal Yahas)
F_ll in th_ bl_nk – Nars Foundation, Brooklyn, NY (Curator Shlomit Dror)
L.A. Art Book Fair, MOCA, Los Angeles, CA
DRAFTED, Schema Project Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Tracing The Fish Bladder, Radiator Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (Curator Guy Goldstein)

2012
Molecular Gastronomy, Young artist biennial, Bucharest, RM (Curator Ami Barak)
The Artis Shuk – NADA Art Fair, New York, NY
So Near The Garden But Still Miles Away, Unosunove Gallery, Rome, IT (Curator Carmen Stolfi)

2011
Plutôt que rien, Maison populaire de Montreuil, FR (Curator – Raphaele Jeune)
Ecstatic Streaming, Kunsthuis SYB Residency – Invited by Noa Giniger, NL

2010
I Know what you did last summer, St. Ceclia’s Convent, Brooklyn, NY
La nature ne fait sans objet, LA BANK Gallery, Paris, FR

2008
Forever Young, ANNE+ Gallery Art Project, Ivry/Seine, FR (Curator Ami Barak)

2007
Dessins
, Appartement 22, Rabat, MA (Curator Abdellah Karroum)

2006
Passage
, Waterloo, London, UK (Curator Eline Van Der Vlist)
It is what it is, konstbiennal, Alma Lôv Museum, SE (Curator Erik Sigerud)

 

RESIDENCIES AND FELLOWSHIP

The Elizabeth Foundation, Manhattan, NY 2013 – 2017

ISCP – International Studio & Curatorial Program, Brooklyn, NY, 2011

Creative Capital, Professional Development Grant, by ARTIS, NY, USA 2012

ARTIS, Contemporary Israeli Art Fund, NY, USA 2011

Ostrovsky Family Foundation, Jerusalem, IL 2011 – 2012

Office of Cultural Affairs, Consulate General of Israel in NY, USA 2011

French Ministry of Culture, Paris, FR 2009

Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment, USA 2009

 

GRANTS AND AWARDS

SIP – Shpilman Institute of Photography, Award, IL 2013

Installation-Sculpture Award, the friends of ENSB-A, Paris, FR 2005

Colin-Lefranc Foundation, FR (Grant for exchange program at Cal’Arts ) 2004

 

PUBLICATIONS/ PROJECTS

Gatherer/Nonfunctional Display, Artist house, Jerusalem, Exhibition catalogue 2015

Under Erasure, Tel Aviv Museum Exhibition catalogue, 2014

VECTOR, Printed Publication New York, 2014

APPARATUS, Harama Magazine, online publication, Israel, Summer 2013

Demontage, Exhibition catalogue, 2012

Bijoux by artists, Dream Magazine, Fall 2011

Material Press, Online Artist Project, 2010

HE & I, Emmanuel Moses`s Cover Book, Oberlin College Press, 2010

Stiletto, Interview, Printed magazine Winter 2009

Jeune creation, Exhibition catalogue Paris, FR 2006

Plus que vrai, Exhibition catalogue Ensba. Paris, FR 2005

La Fabrique Du Dessin, Exhibition catalogue, Ensba. Paris, FR 2005

PPR Archives, Paris Project Room, Archive catalogue Paris, FR 2004