NEW YORK, NY.- Pavel Zoubok Gallery
is presenting Play Land, an exhibition of new works by Jane Benson that explore contemporary geo-cultural disruptions through division and rupture. The exhibition centers on Finding Baghdad (Part A), a dual-channel video installation broadcasting an intimate, virtual duet between two Iraqi brothers who fled Baghdad in the early 2000s.
Finding Baghdad (Part A) begins with the splitting of two mass-produced Iraqi instruments, an oud and a djoze. Radically altering their long-honed aesthetic conventions, this gesture requires a pair of musicians to play both half-instruments in order to activate a full tonal range. Once meticulously re-engineered, these fragments are sent to each of the brothers whose duet bridges the living rooms of their far-flung new homes in Cologne, Germany and Sanad, Bahrain. Using Skype as a platform for extraterritorial exchange, Finding Baghdad (Part A) investigates how traditional objects and digital technologies can create resonant new forms of transnational communication in a century already defined by global upheaval and evolving patterns of diaspora.
Play Land also engages sculpture, drawing and weaving to expand upon the themes of division and connection explored in the dual-channel video. The sculptural series A Place for Infinite Tuning re-contextualizes Bensons performable fragments atop mirrored platforms whose slender, angled legs evoke a sense of perpetual ambulation. In her lalala landscapes, a spectral suite of drawings render a single musical note in long graphite rows, creating shifting horizons as the viewer reads the somber melody. Family Portrait, the final body of work included in Play Land, references the brothers dispersed family, as well as future iterations of Bensons split performances. These woven compositions of primary color integrate strands of shredded flags, obscuring and revealing emblems from all of the countries in which the brothers immediate family now live: Iraq, Bahrain, Germany, Norway, United Arab Emirates, United States, Turkey and China.
Benson premiered The Splits at The Abrons Arts Center in 2011 with a performance of chamber music scored in collaboration with New York composer Matt Schickele. Subsequent iterations of this project took place at The Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT in 2012 and at the Queens Museum, Queens, NY in 2013. Trained at the Edinburgh College of Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Benson has exhibited nationally and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Thierry Goldberg Gallery, New York, NY; Black and White Gallery, New York, NY; Helen Pitt Gallery, Vancouver; Roebling Hall, New York, NY; the Chicago Project Room, Chicago, IL and the Scottish National Museum of Modern Art, Edinburgh. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at MoMA P.S.1, Long Island City, NY; Sculpture Center, Long Island City, NY; the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, TX; The North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC and the Bury Museum, England. This is her first solo exhibition at Pavel Zoubok Gallery.