The work of James Benning (1942) builds on elements taken from structural film. He is at the same time considered to be one of the protagonists in the ‘new narrative’ movement of the 1980s. In Ruhr, Benning’s first film to be shot entirely outside America, he outlines his impressions of the Ruhr area in Germany in a handful of long takes. Shot from a meticulously selected spot, his studies of the landscapes with their human activity not only have a powerful pictorial quality, but also vent underlying tensions and a very dry humour. In the first part, Benning shows successively a tunnel, a metal factory, a wood near an airport, a mosque, a work of art damaged by graffiti and a street. In spite of the minimal – and seemingly objective – camera work, this throws up a story about demographic, infrastructural, economic and environmentally related aspects of the area. In the second part, Benning excels in his rigid style, filming only a chimney in a sunset. This results in stunningly beautiful images which, alternately, appeal to one’s sense of trance and prompt one to reflect.

James Benning - Ruhr

2009, video, 120’, colour, sound


Ruhr, James Benning, 2009. © the Artist, courtesy Schaf oder Scharf Film.  
  • Thu 15.4.2010
    21:30 - 23:30
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