The California Trilogy

James Benning’s tour de force trilogy is at once a meditative exploration of landscape, a trenchant examination of the politics of water and labor, and an homage to the Lumières. Each film is composed of 35 static landscapes lasting exactly two and one half minutes and identified only at film’s end. El Valley Centro (1999) starts the trilogy in California’s agricultural hub. Exploitation – of the land and of the people who work it – dominates the piece. Los (2000) investigates the diversity of landscape and people in Los Angeles county. It is constantly startling in its re-imagining of over-explored territory. Sogobi (2001), named for the Shoshoni word for “Earth,” moves from the city to precariously preserved wilderness, the beauty shot through with the knowledge that everything we see is at risk.

The California Trilogy - El Valley Centro

16 mm. | 01:30:00 | col.

Sat, 15 Oct 2005
20:15 - 21:40
in the presence of James Benning.

The California Trilogy - Los

16 mm. | 01:30:00 | col.

Sun, 16 Oct 2005
22:15 - 23:45

The California Trilogy - Sogobi

16 mm. | 01:30:00 | col.

Tue, 18 Oct 2005
22:15 - 23:45

Ten Skies

16 mm. | 01:49:00 | col.

Ten Skies is shot in Val Verde, the small California mountain town where Benning lives. The structure is similar to its companion piece 13Lakes: one ten-minute static shot for each location – in this case, ten different skies, as they are affected by the landscapes and the atmospheric/environmental conditions below them. Each shot details a different effect, a different “story”: forest fire, industrial pollution, mountain air current – adding a new dimension to Benning’s cinematic reflection on the landscape. Even the skies are haunted by a history of human interaction.

Thu, 20 Oct 2005
20:15 - 22:05

13 Lakes

16 mm. | 02:15:00 | col.

13 Lakes focuses on thirteen great American lakes (including Salton Sea, Lake Powell, and Lake Michigan) along with their geographical and historical relationship to the landscape. Each lake is presented by a single 10-minute shot for which the preparation, the choice of the camera position and the moment to be filmed were chosen with great care, equally framing water and sky. The focus is not on coincidental geography – let alone social geography in any way – but rather on the play of light and reflections.

Fri, 21 Oct 2005
20:15 - 22:30

Circling the Image

Reinhard Wulf
video | 00:84:00 | col.

The American filmmaker James Benning has been one of the outstanding exponents of the structural film since the mid-1970s. A main focus of his work is an interest in American landscapes. In long sequences influenced by still photography and early cinema, Benning takes a meditative look at nature in its archaic state, and at the interventions of human technology. His film "13 LAKES" focuses on thirteen large American lakes (including Salton Sea, and Lake Powell) along with their geographical and historical relationship to the landscape. This documentary film accompanies the artist for a week as he searches for locations and as he films the first two shots for his own film. It shows the artist on the road, the unceasing search for suitable locations and motifs, Benning’s relationship with the landscape and with the solitude involved in his work.

Fri, 21 Oct 2005
22:30 - 23:55

This event is part of Artist in focus

James Benning, Ten Skies, 2005  
  • Sat 15.10.2005 - Fri 21.10.2005
  • Practical info

    Ravenstienstr. 60
    1000 Brussel

  • Artists