April 16, 2017 - Triennale di Milano - Ben Rivers: Phantoms
April 16, 2017

Triennale di Milano

Ben Rivers, Phantoms of a Libertine, 2012. 16mm film, color, sound, 10 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Kate MacGarry, London.

Ben Rivers
Phantoms
April 21–May 28, 2017

Triennale di Milano
Viale Alemagna, 6
20121 Milan
Italy

www.triennale.org
Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Twitter

Ben Rivers
Phantoms
April 21–May 28, 2017

Triennale di Milano
Viale Alemagna, 6
20121 Milan
Italy

www.triennale.org
Facebook / Instagram / Google+ / Twitter

Triennale di Milano presents Ben Rivers: Phantoms curated by Lucia Aspesi, with the artistic direction of Edoardo Bonaspetti, curator of Triennale Arte.

For his first solo show in an Italian institution, the artist and filmmaker Ben Rivers (1972, Somerset, UK) erases the boundaries between ethnological and documentary film, blending memory and fiction.

His films describe unreal worlds, remote landscapes, and alien individuals from some obscure time. Predominantly in a 16mm format, his works have been presented in contemporary art centres as well as international film festivals. His language walks the line between art and cinema, exploring genres that range from thriller to noir by way of horror and science fiction.

For the exhibition at Triennale di Milano, Ben Rivers has conceived an environment that forms a reflection on memory. Three screens, each showing a film, are arranged to create an experimental narrative journey where different times and stories are interwoven. The works in the exhibition focus on the idea of collection, in both the institutional and personal context.

In Phantoms, the figure of an “unreliable narrator” comes into play, as is often the case in Rivers’ work, suggesting voyages and shifts through distant times and places. At the entrance, the film The Shape of Things (2016) projects images of artefacts from the ethnological collections of the Harvard Art Museums: a Byzantine sculpture of a hermaphrodite and an anthropomorphic jug from Stone Age China are accompanied by the voice of American poet William Bronk reading his composition “At Tikal." The poet’s words lead us to question the desire to create images of ourselves in an unending cycle of creation, destruction and renewal.

A man’s life and memories provide the context for Phantoms of a Libertine (2012), inspired in part by Marcel Broodthaers’ Voyage on the North Sea (1974). In the film, a series of visual and textual elements extrapolated from a travel diary create an ambiguous biography made up of mysterious, dreamlike clues. In Things (2014) the narration shifts to the artist and his home. The description of elements making up his domestic environment—fragments of books, images, objects and sounds collected over the years—is at the same time a voyage through collective memory and imagination.

The narrations and stories presented in the works rhythmically articulate the exhibition, conceived as a structure open to discussion and possible misunderstandings: reality and imagination blur together, creating figures and presences that appear both tangible and dreamlike at the same time, in a carousel of voices and apparitions.

The exhibition is a cooperation project with Camden Arts Centre, London; Kunstverein in Hamburg and The Renaissance Society, Chicago.

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Phantoms
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