Ben Rivers, British artist and filmaker, studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, initially in sculpture before moving into photography and super8 film. After his degree he taught himself 16mm filmmaking and hand-processing. His practice as a filmmaker treads a line between documentary and fiction. Often following and filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society, the raw film footage provides Rivers with a starting point for creating oblique narratives imagining alternative existences in marginal worlds. He is the recipient of numerous prizes including: FIPRESCI International Critics Prize, 68th Venice Film Festival for his first feature film Two Years At Sea; the inaugural Robert Gardner Film Award, 2012; the Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel 42, 2011; twice shortlisted for the Jarman Award, 2010/2012; Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists, 2010. Recent exhibitions include: Slow Action, Hepworth Wakefield, 2012; Sack Barrow, Hayward Gallery, London, 2011; Slow Action, Matt’s Gallery, London and Gallery TPW, Toronto, 2011; A World Rattled of Habit, A Foundation, Liverpool, 2009. In 1996 he co-founded Brighton Cinematheque which he then co-programmed through to its demise in 2006. He continues to programme on a peripatetic basis.
Ben Russell is an itinerant media artist and curator from USA, 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, visual anthropology, and structuralist filmmaking result in immersive experiences concerned at once with ritual, communal spectatorship and the pursuit of a 'psychedelic ethnography'. A 2008 Guggenheim Fellow and 2010 FIPRESCI award recipient for his feature film Let Each One Go Where He May, Russell began the Magic Lantern screening series in Providence, Rhode Island, was co-director of the artist-run space Ben Russell in Chicago, toured with film/video/performance programs world-wide and performed in a double-drum trio called BEAST. His recent exhibitions include: Arts sous influence, La maison rouge, Paris, 2013; PhotoCairo 5, Townhouse Factory Space, Cairo, 2013; Uh Oh It’s Magic, ThreeWalls, Chicago, 2011; Trypps #7 (Badlands), Wexner Center, Columbus, 2011; 12×12: Ben Russell, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2010.
Ben Rivers/Ben Russell A Spell Toward of the Darkness
film, italian premiére
A Spell Toward of the Darkness, the title of the new feature film from Ben Rivers and Ben Russell, looks back to the history of cinema as dream and ritual, the invocation of a form of magic that once animated nature but was banished by modernity. One man (the musician Robert AA Lowe, best known for his intense live performances under the name LICHENS) is observed in three distinct sections, each depicting a different landscape and social situation: a 15-person island commune in Estonia, an isolated house in northern Finland, and a venue in Oslo, where a Black Metal performance is captured in a single shot that lasts nearly half an hour. Ben Rivers comments that the three sections explore "possible ways of being in the world in a positive sense, in some ways temporary utopias". Community and solitude are negotiated through the relation between bodies and landscape mediated by the camera. This is non-fiction but it is not a documentary: a hybrid document of the past/present/future, it might be described as about ways of being. In the widest sense, it prompts questions about how we might live and why we might make those choices.