II. Existential Frontiers: Ben Rivers and Claire Denis

II. Existential Frontiers: Ben Rivers and Claire Denis

Ben Rivers, Urth (still), 2016.

This Was Tomorrow

II. Existential Frontiers: Ben Rivers and Claire Denis

Admission starts at $5

July 18, 2024, 8:30pm
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us at the e-flux Screening Room rooftop for Existential Frontiers, the second of the four-part series This Was Tomorrow, presenting cinematic visions of the future that illuminate and comment on our present-day realities.

The films and videos in this series challenge common perceptions of time, identity, technology, and community, in a curated selection that invites thoughtful reflection while also promising entertainment. Each evening will present a thematic pairing of an artist film(s) with a cinema feature, showcasing the diverse and innovative possibilities of science-fiction storytelling.

Screenings take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 16–25, 2024, and begin after sunset.

II. Existential Frontiers
Thursday, July 18, 8:30pm

The works in this screening invite viewers to explore the depths of human isolation and the necessity for self-rediscovery in the end times, and under different conditions of survival. The films delve into the psychological and existential challenges faced by individuals in isolated, futuristic settings, where they confront their inner fears and demons, and are forced to reflect on the failures of humanity.

Ben Rivers, Urth (2016, 20 minutes)
Urth is a meditative science-fiction film set in a futuristic botanical lab as part of the failed Biosphere experiment. The film follows a solitary scientist as she tends to the lab’s plant life and reflects on the implications of humanity’s impact on the environment. Rivers uses a mix of observational footage and speculative narration to explore themes of ecological collapse, solitude, and the Anthropocene. Urth could be seen as a commentary on humanity’s relationship with nature and the potential futures we are creating.

Claire Denis, High Life (2018, 113 minutes)
High Life follows a group of death-row inmates sent on a mission to extract energy from a black hole. The film focuses on Monte and his daughter, the last survivors of the mission, as they navigate the isolation and existential challenges of space. Denis explores themes of humanity, reproduction, and the ethics of scientific experimentation. The film’s haunting visuals and philosophical depth make it a compelling exploration of human existence in extreme conditions.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Experimental Film, Video Art, Science Fiction, Outer Space, Anthropocene, Apocalypse, Futures, Futurism
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This Was Tomorrow

Ben Rivers (b. 1972, Somerset, UK) lives and works in London. Rivers’ films are typically intimate portrayals of solitary beings or isolated communities; his practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Rivers uses these themes as a starting point from which to imagine alternative narratives and existences in marginal worlds. Recent solo exhibitions include Ghost Strata and other stories, Jeu de Paume, Paris (2023); It’s About Time, STUK, Leuven, Belgium (2023); After London, Jeu de Paume, Paris (2022); Urthworks, Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo, Norway (2021) and Hestercombe House, Somerset, UK (2020); Now, at Last!, Kate MacGarry Gallery, London (2019); and Urth, Renaissance Society, Chicago, (2016). Group exhibitions include Somewhere from here to heaven, Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao, Spain (2022); Hollow Earth: Art, Caves & The Subterranean Imaginary, Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2022); and Museum of Clouds, Tate Modern, London, UK (2018). In 2013 he was awarded the Artangel Open Commission with the resulting film, The Two Eyes Are Not Brothers, presented at the derelict BBC Television Centre in 2015 and at The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester in 2016.

Claire Denis (b. 1948) is a Paris-based filmmaker and one of the major artistic voices of contemporary French cinema. After studying economics, Claire Denis enrolled in the Institut des hautes études cinématographiques, where she graduated in 1971. At the beginning of her film career, she worked as an assistant director to Dušan Makavejev, Costa Gavras, Jacques Rivette, Jim Jarmusch, and Wim Wenders. In 1988, her first film Chocolate—a semi-autobiographical story set in colonial Africa in the 1950s—was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival and nominated at the César Awards. In 1994, I Can’t Sleep was selected in the Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival, and in 1996, she received the Golden Leopard Prize at Locarno for Nenette and Boni. This was followed by Good Work (1999), Trouble Every Day (2001), Friday Night (2002), 35 Shots of Rum (2008), White Material (2009), Bastards (2013), Let the Sunshine In (2017), High Life (2018), Both Sides of the Blade (2022), and Stars at Noon (2022).

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