Ben Russell US

Ben Russell will present Utopian Visions, a four-part program of experimental films exploring the relationship between cinema and Utopia – both idealized forms of reality.

Utopia is that horizon hovering just out of reach, that bright future on the other side of the darkness and catastrophe of our never-ending present. In the undeniable face of the Real, Utopia is an unavoidable imaginary – it is a no-place, as Thomas Moore defined it – but it is a no-place made habitable through the century-old miracle of Cinema, of time-space regained. In its most vital manifestations, cinema is a construction of time and space that offers a hallucination of the real – it is a flickering vision of radical possibility drawn from the fabric of our everyday. Cinema is an always-present that only exists while we are present; it is a utopia that is always-arriving. By way of immersive and transformative example, here is a four-part program of film and video works drawn from an international canon of artist’s films: from mushroom clouds to hypnagogic states, Buddhist haircuts to slow-motion dance parties, Red Sea ecstasies to capitalist color theory, and noise concerts to LSD trips, Utopian Visions is an invitation to inhabit the no-place called Now. 

Ben Russell is an artist and curator whose films, installations, and performances foster a deep engagement with the history and semiotics of the moving image. Russell’s work lies at the intersection of ethnography and psychedelia, and he has received international acclaim for his films. His films and installations are in direct conversation with the history of the documentary image, providing a time-based inquiry into trance phenomena and evoking the research of Jean Rouch, Maya Deren and Michael Snow, among others. Russell received a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship, a FIPRESCI International Critics Prize (IFFR 2009) for his first feature film Let Each One Go Where He May, and is an exhibiting artist in documenta 14. His second feature film, A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness (co-directed with Ben Rivers), premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2013. Curatorial projects include Magic Lantern (Providence, USA, 2005-2007), BEN RUSSELL (Chicago, USA, 2009-2011), and Hallucinations (Athens, Greece, 2017).