1084 N MILWAUKEE, CHICAGO

THE GARDEN OF …

THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS
Three Films by Ben Russell

GREETINGS (ZEBRA)

Tuesday, September 15, 7 pm, $7-10
The Nightingale Cinema, 1084 N Milwaukee, Chicago, IL

Taking its title from a 15th century Hieronymus Bosch triptych in which the pleasures of Eden are conflated with the torments of Hell, this new trilogy of (mostly) non-fiction works by artist-filmmaker Ben Russell examines the ecstatic limits of utopia in the present. Moving from a post-colonial vision of Melanesian cargo cults to a documentary portrait of Atlantis to a world populated by dream-healers and Christian Animists, these films take a visceral, embodied, and ethnographic approach towards their subject (which is also us). From Malta to Greece to Vanuatu to Swaziland to South Africa: utopia is now!  In the words of Samuel Beckett, “What do we do now, now that we are happy?”

FEATURING:
LET US PERSEVERE IN WHAT WE HAVE RESOLVED BEFORE WE FORGET
(20:00, S16mm on video, 2013)

“John Frum prophesied the occurrence of a cataclysm in which Tanna would become flat, the volcanic mountains would fall and fill the river-beds to form fertile plains, and Tanna would be joined to the neighbouring islands of Eromanga and Aneityum to form a new island. Then John Frum would reveal himself, bringing in a reign of bliss, the natives would get back their youth and there would be no sickness; there would be no need to care for gardens, trees or pigs. The Whites would go; John Frum would set up schools to replace mission schools, and would pay chiefs and teachers.”
– Peter Worsley, “The Trumpet Shall Sound: a study of cargo cults in Melanesia”

ATLANTIS
(23:33, S16mm on video, 2014)
“We Utopians are happy / This will last forever”

Loosely framed by Plato’s invocation of the lost continent of Atlantis in 360 BC and its re-re-resurrection via a 1970s science fiction pulp novel, Ben Russell presents a documentary portrait of Utopia – that relative paradise, an island called Nowhere which has never / forever existed beneath our feet. Herein is folk song and pagan rite, reflected temple and Templar Knight, the lonely body of Man disappearing into the glimmering sea. Even with our mouths full of sea-water, we persist – happy and content.

GREETINGS TO THE ANCESTORS
(29:00, S16mm on HD, 2014)

Set between Swaziland and South Africa, in a region still struggling with the divisions produced by an apartheid government, GREETINGS TO THE ANCESTORS documents the dream lives of the territory’s inhabitants as the borders of consciousness dissolve and expand. Equal parts documentary, ethnography and dream cinema, GREETINGS TO THE ANCESTORS presents a world whose borders are constantly dematerializing; it takes on the challenge that the Surrealists outlined in the 1920s – for cinema to be fully realized as the waking state of dreams, one that we all can inhabit.

TRT 72:33

 

Ben Russell (b.1976, USA) is a media artist and curator whose films, installations, and performances foster a deep engagement with the history and semiotics of the moving image.  Formal investigations of the historical and conceptual relationships between early cinema, documentary practices, and structuralist filmmaking result in immersive experiences concerned at once with ritual, communal spectatorship and the pursuit of a “psychedelic ethnography.”  A 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship and 2010 FIPRESCI award recipient, Ben has had solo screenings and exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Rotterdam Film Festival, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Viennale, and the Museum of Modern Art.  He began the Magic Lantern screening series in Providence, Rhode Island, was co-director of the artist-run space BEN RUSSELL in Chicago, IL, has toured worldwide with film/ video/ performance programs and was named by Cinemascope in 2012 as one of the “50 Best Filmmakers Under 50.”



Filed under: 16mm, experimental, film, Uncategorized

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