Opening: Will Benedict
, 20:00

Opening party with DJs Josefin Granqvist & Unge Helgesen.

American artist Will Benedict’s exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall is his largest institutional project to date and demonstrates the full breadth of his practice as an artist, curator and filmmaker. Dividing the Kunsthall galleries into a solo exhibition and a group show – curated by Benedict – his own works are brought into dialogue with an eclectic selection of found visual material, as well as works by various invited artists including David Leonard, Michele Di Menna, Sergei Tcherepnin, Clegg & Guttmann, William Wiley, Sabine Reitmaier, Pentti Monkkonen, Paul Theriault and Howard Finster.

The exhibition is built up around formal and spatial references to traditional outdoor markets. The market is treated as both a physical and a social space, and as an abstracted mise-en-scène in the gallery. Furniture-like objects, loosely based on market stalls, are included as sculptural installations in combination with Benedict’s distinctive, multi-layered pictures. The market is also an appropriate setting for an exploration of the exhibition’s broad themes, addressing various ideas around advertising, global (food) distribution, manufacturing and trade in late capitalist market economies.

The “picture in the picture” has been a dominant motif in Benedict’s works in recent years. A particular set of material and visual elements recurs: paintings in gouache on canvas are mounted within larger panels of foam board where photographs (often life-size studio portraits of people) are integrated as part of the final composition. These different components are in turn mounted in glass and aluminium frames. A repertoire of such composite, multi-media pictures forms the core of Benedict’s exhibitions, and through them an ambivalent course of events unfolds via a series of enigmatic digressions and associations.

The group section of the exhibition includes a new film made by Benedict in collaboration with the artist and journalist David Leonard. Exploring the transnational politics of food distribution, Benedict and Leonard trace the complex journey of a humble onion, perhaps the most important and volatile commodity in contemporary India. In a distinctive, knowing formal idiom, Benedict’s video works expose contemporary journalistic forms and the visual tropes of the news media. Other works in this section of the show go on to address marketing and advertising languages of the last three decades, revealing the symbiotic or perhaps cannibalistic relationship between progressive contemporary art and commercial design and advertising – a space which Benedict’s own practice has frequently inhabited and exploited.

Will Benedict (b. 1978) lives and works in Paris.