Magazine article Artforum International

Sadie Benning

Magazine article Artforum International

Sadie Benning

Article excerpt

1 VALIE EXPORT, SEEING SPACE--SPACE HEARING, 1973-74 In her 1973 film ... Remote ... Remote ..., VALIE EXPORT sits in front of a large black-and-white photograph. She faces the camera with a bowl of milk on her lap and a box cutter in her hand. She starts to cut her cuticles. We hear a monotonous tapping sound. Fear builds. She starts to bleed. I had never seen anything like this. Seeing Space-Space Hearing is compelling too, but in a different way. I like the formal awkwardness of its manual video-switching, its split-screen format, and the stoic quality of VALIE EXPORT's standing-still performance. The video deals structurally with the fragmentation of space, sound, and body, inducing anxiety as it counters viewers' desire for syncopation and solidity.

2 HOWARD ALK, THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON (1971) This documentary about Fred Hampton--the charismatic, intelligent, urgently spoken Black Panther Party leader who was murdered by the Chicago police--captures Hampton's death, but it's also very much about living. Alk is a brilliant editor. He gives time and air to "being" so that you feel present in the atmosphere of the moment. He creates a kind of liveness in the film that promotes empathy and emotion without ever being corny, overwrought, or exploitative.

3 GEORGE KUCHAR, WEATHER DIARY #6,1990 In the late 1980s, it seemed that everywhere I turned, someone was showing me yet another VHS copy of Kuchar's work. Cobbling together sound tracks, overlaid graphics, and cutaway shots (sometimes editing in-camera), he made his films alone or with groups of friends and students to create experimental narratives that wove together his personal obsessions--in this episode, tornado watching, puppies, and faulty plumbing--which he recorded while vacationing in Oklahoma.

4 KASE 2 I learned about Kase 2's work from Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant's 1984 book, Subway Art. But I first became interested in graffiti while spending summers in New York City visiting my father as a kid. We didn't have a subway system in Milwaukee, where I grew up, and so it was really exciting to watch a train pull into the station covered top to bottom with cloud-bubble names. People called KASE 2 the King of Style, maybe because, as one of the most prolific and creative graphers, he was always changing up and inventing new ways of writing--"computer rock" letters, camouflage, etc. For whatever reason, one of his pieces, El Kay, managed for years to escape "the buff" (a washing system for erasing graffiti). Over time, KASE 2 grew infamous, not because his art was a crime, but because it moved and traveled through neighborhoods, starting and stopping, never held in one position in space.

5 BLINKY PALERMO, UNTITLED (TOTEM), 1964 Like his better-known To the People of New York City, 1976, this work by Blinky Palermo strikes a balance between formalist structure--the selection and sequencing of colors and materials--and interpretive openness. I particularly like its in-between nature. Featuring five small canvases serially affixed to what can be read as an architectural remnant, it's both a painting and a sculpture; a work made by hand that in turn suggests mechanical repetition. …

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