Serpentine Cinema: Ben Rivers and Javier Téllez

Gate Picturehouse

6 Sep 2009 - 3:30 PM

Serpentine Cinema: Ben Rivers and Javier Téllez

London-based artist film-maker Ben Rivers presented his film I Know Where I’m Going, 2009.

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Ben Rivers: I Know Where I’m Going, 2007 (16mm cinemascope, 29mins)

The outside world figures heavily in the work of Ben Rivers; not only as the non-domestic space directly outside the front door, but also the surrounding realm that is not presently pegged out by the social, the cultivated, or the local. His new film I Know Where I’m Going (2009) takes great strides away from its initial logic of a road trip or road movie into long-abandoned wildernesses and an expanded time frame through the interview recordings with geologist Dr Jan Zalasiewicz.

Zalasiewicz deals with the question of what trace of humanity, if any, might be discernable from the earth’s geological strata millennia after our extinction. In this scenario, the remote men that we encounter in the film become archetypes for the vulnerable and almost eccentric presence of human life set within the most inhumanly grand scales of time and space. The saturated imperfections in the hand-processed 16mm film frequently coincide with peaks in the soundtrack that combines wild track, interviews and field recording.

Ben Rivers studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art. Since then he has worked predominantly in 16mm film, showing in international festivals, galleries and UK theatres. Recent works have included two commissions from Paul Harnden Shoemakers – making works which fall somewhere between documentary and fiction.

His latest work is an ongoing series of portraits of people living somehow outside of (the generally accepted idea of) society. The first part – This Is My Land, was premiered at London Film Festival 2006 and exhibited by Measure Arts in London 2007. Rivers’s new film I Know Where I’m Going, commissioned by Vauxhall

Motors, was screened as a work in progress at Edinburgh Film Festival August 2009. Rivers is currently exhibiting A World Rattled of Habit at A Foundation, Liverpool. In 1996, Ben co-founded and has since co-managed/programmed Brighton Cinematheque - renowned for screening a unique programme of film from its earliest days through to the latest artist’s film and video.

Javier Téllez: Letter on the Blind, for Use of Those Who See, 2007 (16mm transferred to high definition video, 27:36mins)

Venezuelan artist Javier Téllez screens Letter on the Blind, For Use of Those Who See, 2007, which combines documentary and fiction to question definitions of normality and pathology.

Inspired by his continued interest in mental illness and the related social isolation as well as his personal experiences with his mother’s elderly blindness, Tellez took the name of the film from Diderot’s classic book on blindness. Using the parable of the blind man and the elephant that questions individual perceptions, Tellez filmed and recorded the individual experiences of the six blind participants in the best possible way to translate these different points of view. He also notes ‘it was interesting for me to conceal the “real” presence of the elephant and the people touching them to an audience who we could define as “those who see” or the sighted—a play on notions of visibility.’

Javier Téllez was born in 1969 in Valencia, Venezuela and lives and works in New York. Letter on the Blind was premiered at the Whitney Biennial, New York in 2008 and was commissioned by Creative Time. Tellez has had numerous exhibitions and screenings internationally. Recent shows include One day Sculpture, Ever ybody’s Theatre, Taranaki; Sydney Biennial; CCA Wattis, San Francisco; Extra City, Antwerp and Manifesto 7, Trentino, Italy.

Serpentine Cinema

Serpentine Cinema was a series of monthly screenings and events at The Gate cinema in Notting Hill which gave an opportunity to view rarely seen artists’ films in a cinema context. Presented in association with Sketch.

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