In connection with the opening of the exhibition Corruption Feeds Platform invites to a conversation between Will Benedict and David Leonard.
David Leonard is an artist and television correspondent based in Los Angeles, California. In addition to earning a Masters in Fine Art from the University of California Los Angeles, Leonard is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for Feature Story News (FSN) and produces television and radio news for several television networks including PBS, Chinese Central Television, and Channel News Asia. He is also a professor in the Media Design Practices Graduate Program at Art Center College of Design, and has exhibited work at the Getty Museum, The Hammer Museum, What Pipeline, Pro Choice and The National Gallery in Washington, DC.
Throughout his youth in Los Angeles Leonard documented and wrote for local news outlets, covering the LA Riots, the O.J. Simpson trial and other game-changing events of the 1990s. After experimenting with stand-up comedy and performance, he found a place for his charmingly quixotic take on audience interaction as a television reporter. His stories have appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN and Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report”.
Leonard accentuates his career as a “man-on-the-street” with a confounding art practice, using his investigative eye to look closer at technology, current events, journalism and the aesthetic representation of these topics.
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.